The Interior Ministry in Kyrgyzstan is pushing for new rules that would allow them to expel foreigners from the country without need for a court ruling, thereby streamlining the process.
Officials say revisions to the law are intended to target people violating migration laws. They come on the heels of the Kyrgyz authorities’ recent decision to summarily expel a Russian journalist from the country without clear legal justification.
If the changes are adopted, expulsion can take place along either “administrative” or “mandatory” lines. In the case of the latter, the foreigner will be permitted to try and resolve their issue or leave the country independently, and the decision will be subject to appeal.
In the latter case, however, foreigners can be forcibly removed under the supervision of the State Committee for National Security, the border service and the police. And this would happen without a court decision.
Proponents of the revised rules say they will help fight against labor migrants violating the law. It will also clear up existing contradictions in the law, they say.
Advocacy groups are not so certain, however. The doubts arise following what amounted to the deportation of Grigory Mikhailov, a formerly Bishkek-based editor with Regnum news website. As Mikhailov explained in an interview to fergana.ru, his removal from Kyrgyzstan earlier this month was engineered largely by subterfuge. When he was stopped in the street by police and found not to have some necessary paperwork, the officers suggested he cross the land border into Kazakhstan and then immediately return — a common trick among foreigners seeking to avoid the tribulations of the registration process in Kyrgyzstan. But when the reporter attempted to return, he was informed that he had been blacklisted.
Rights activist Dinara Oshurhanova said that the law being proposed could be exploited to target foreigners involved in any kind of contentious advocacy work.
“They come to Kyrgyzstan to research developments with the law, in human rights, and it is possible the authorities have no desire to continue seeing such people. If it was previously illegal to expel people without legitimate grounds, now they will be granted this power,” she told EurasiaNet.org.
Oshurhanova said this kind of provision could have a deterrent effect not just on activists wishing to work in Kyrgyzstan, but for tourists too.
“If it becomes known in the tourism community that in this country, they can expel you without a court ruling, it will immediately send out a negative signal,” she said.
Ulan Jumakov, a lawyer, said that with the courts taken out of the picture, there will be no government body ultimately responsible for the decision to eject foreign citizens.
“This will be a potential form of pressure, where by dangling the threat of deportation, the foreigners can be blackmailed for material goods or other valuable items,” he said.
Edil Eraliyev, a lawyer with the Precedent legal services company agreed and said that only the court should be empowered to make such decisions.
“This is an unnecessary law that goes against basic principles; to just take and expel those people that are somehow inconvenient,” Eraliyev said.
The border service has said that last year, more than 200 foreign nationals were deported.