UAE and USA: UN experts warn against refoulement of ex-Guantánamo detainee and urge his immediate release
15 September 2023
GENEVA (15 September 2023) – UN experts* today warned against the forcible repatriation of Mr. Ravil Mingazov from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the Russian Federation, calling for an immediate end to the harmful cycle of extended and arbitrary detention against a former detainee.
Mingazov was previously transferred by the United States Government from detention at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba to the UAE.
Ravil Mingazov is a Russian national from Tatar origin and Muslim confession, who was resettled in the UAE in 2017, based on an agreement with the US Government. Those diplomatic assurances are alleged to include a six-month residential rehabilitation programme, followed by release, reintegration in Emirati Society, and reunion with his family. The assurances also allegedly included protection against refoulement to the Russian Federation, where Mingazov would be risking grave violations of his human rights, including torture, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance, based on his religious beliefs and his status as a former Guantánamo detainee.
“We are deeply concerned by the reported imminent risk to forcibly repatriate Mr. Mingazov to the Russian Federation, in absence of minimum judicial guarantees, or individual risk assessment, and in clear violation of the absolute and non-derogable prohibition against refoulement under international human rights, humanitarian, and refugee law,” the experts said.
“We call on the Governments involved to observe their international obligations, honour the diplomatic assurances provided for resettlement, and take into account the substantiated risks to Mr. Mingazov’s physical and moral integrity, if repatriated against his will.”
Since 2005, Ravil Mingazov consistently and vociferously demonstrated and raised his fear of irreparable harm if repatriated to the Russian Federation.
“Mr. Mingazov is a victim of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment during and prior to his detention at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba and was arbitrarily detained by the United States for nearly 15 years. Given these past violations and his extended and indefinite arbitrary detention at an undisclosed location in the UAE, he remains profoundly vulnerable to further serious violations of his human rights,” the UN experts said.
“The United States is obliged to continue to ensure Mr. Mingazov’s rights are being respected, including through his release in line with the terms of the diplomatic assurances, and reparation and remedy for serious violations of international law, including extraordinary rendition, torture, and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and arbitrary detention experienced while in the custody of the US Government. As a victim of torture, Mr. Mingazov has rights that do not end with his transfer to another country,” they said.
The experts said that diplomatic assurances must be written, specific, and provide for the transferring State to follow-up on their implementation post-transfer. Fundamentally, they do not release transferring States from absolute adherence to the principle of non-refoulement, they said.
“Mr. Mingazov has been subject to an unrelenting cycle of torture and must be treated as a victim, released, and granted meaningful reparation for serious violations committed against his human rights in Guantánamo Bay and now in Emirati detention,” the experts said.
“Abstract commitments to end torture have absolutely no meaning when former Guantánamo detainees are transferred to further torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance,” the experts said.
UN experts have previously expressed concerns to the Emirati and USA Governments and urged them to stop violations of the human rights of resettled former Guantánamo detainees.
“The Governments of the UAE and the USA must disclose terms of the resettlement programme to protect Mr. Mingazov. We urge the UAE to immediately release this former Guantánamo detainee and protect his fundamental human rights by transfer to a third country where his safety and fundamental rights are assured,” they said.
Special Rapporteurs and Working Groups are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN human rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms. Special Procedures mandate-holders are independent human rights experts appointed by the Human Rights Council to address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. They are not UN staff and are independent from any government or organisation. They serve in their individual capacity and do not receive a salary for their work.