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24 October 2018

After more than 2 months of inactivity, representatives of the State Migration Service of Ukraine finally began to process documents for obtaining a refugee status filed by the lawyer and representative of the opposition movement of the Republic of Moldova, detained on July 6, 2018 ,for the time of the extradition check of Olexander Balika. Activization of the SMS on this issue was stimulated by the position of the Moldovan oppositionist’s defense – the lawyers of Ario Law Firm. So, 2 months after receiving of the documents, the representatives of the Migration Service conducted a survey and an interview with Olexander Balika, and within 15 days must provide an answer, whether they accept the documents submitted.

In order to encourage the SMS representatives to perform their duties, the lawyer of Ario Law Firm, Natalia Shvets, appealed to the President of Ukraine, the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Human Rights, National Minorities and Interethnic Relations, the Minister of the Internal Affairs, the Commissioner for Human Rights and others.

According to the lawyer, the required package of the documents, which confirm political motivation of the persecution and the application for a refugee status, was signed by the client on July 5, 2018, but due to the fact that Olexander Balika was detained on July 6 for the time of extradition check and is in the pretrial detention facility, the SMS received documents on July 20 this year.

“For more than 2 months (until September 24) the Migration Service, in violation of the procedural rules, took no actions on processing of the documents submitted by the client to resolve the issue of his recognition as a refugee or a person, who needs additional protection and did not carry out their preliminary consideration. Although in accordance with clause 2 of Section II of Regulation No. 649, the decision to accept an application for recognition as a refugee or a person, who needs additional protection, should be taken by the territorial authority of the State Migration Service during the working day on which the person applied to it. After receiving of the application, the SMS must issue the applicant a certificate on appeal for the defense in Ukraine and register the applicant. In fact, such a certificate is one of the confirmations that the person cannot be extradited during consideration of the submitted documents,” Natalia Shvets said. “So this apparent inaction on the part of the State Migration Service until September 24 has all the signs of the human rights violation, namely, the right to life and protection from torture or abusive treatment or punishment, the right to choose a place of residence and freedom of movement.”

Let us recall that Olexander Balika was detained in Kyiv on July 6, 2018 by the extradition request of the Republic of Moldova. According to Olexander, his persecution in the home country is politically motivated, because he is one of the key witnesses to the actions investigated in criminal proceedings initiated against people close to the highest officials of the Republic of Moldova.

In turn, the lawyer of Ario Law Firm, Natalia Shvets, drew attention to the increase in the number of cases of the human rights violations in the Republic of Moldova. In particular, on January 25, 2017, twenty-three members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe signed the statement “Moldova: political oppression against civil society and key witnesses.” On February 23, 2018, the Chairman of the Committee on Human Affairs and Democracy of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly sent a letter to the Ministry of Justice of Moldova and the General Prosecutor’s Office of Moldova in order to emphasize the Committee’s concern about political persecution in Moldova.