23 June 2005

Secretary-General Seriously Concerned About Fate of Uzbek Asylum-Seekers in Kyrgyzstan

NEW YORK, 22 June (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by the Spokesman for UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

The Secretary-General is seriously concerned about the fate of Uzbek asylum-seekers in Kyrgyzstan and, in particular, reports about their possible forced deportation to Uzbekistan.  Such a decision would contradict the commitments currently given to the Secretary-General by the Kyrgyz authorities and would constitute the violation of the 1951 UN Refugee Convention to which Kyrgyzstan is a signatory.  The Secretary-General has today received assurances that no decisions will be made on returning asylum-seekers until this has been reviewed at the highest levels by the Government of Kyrgyzstan.

The Secretary-General appeals to the Government of Kyrgyzstan to strictly abide by its international obligations in the treatment of asylum-seekers and urges the Government of Uzbekistan to refrain from any action aimed at ensuring forcible return of Uzbek asylum-seekers to their country.

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