Yesterday, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture submitted an urgent application on behalf of Visam Al-Tbakhi from Nizhny Novgorod, whom the court decided to expel from Russia, with a request to prevent this expulsion. In the opinion of human rights defenders, Russian authorities violated several articles of the European Convention with regard to Visam, his wife and children.
Visam Al-Tbakhi originates from Khevron city of the Palestinian Authority. Since 2000 he dwelled in Nizhny Novgorod together with his wife, Karina. The married couple has seven children, at the present time they are expecting the eighth kid.
In 2001, Visam applied for Russian citizenship, obtained a positive decision and since that time is a Russian citizen.
In March 2010, Visam lost his passport and submitted application to authorized bodies of the Russian Federation for a new one. He was provided a new passport of a Russian citizen instead of the lost one.
On 14 December 2017, Visam was summoned to the Department of the Federal Migration Service for documents check and he was asked to bring the internal Russian passport and the international passport of a Russian citizen. On the same day Visam came to the Department of the Federal Migration Service, where both passports were seized from him.
In the acts about the seizure of documents from Visam it was indicated that it was done based on the conclusion of the check of the Chief Department of the Interior of the Ministry of Defense of Russia for the Nizhny Novgorod region, since the passports were issued in violation of the established order.
Visam appealed against the ruling on seizure of the passports and the conclusion of the check by the Ministry of the Interior, based on which this seizure was performed, in court. However, he failed to have these rulings declared illegal.
On 12 February 2018, during the refusal to satisfy Visam’s demands, the Sormovsky District Court of Nizhny Novgorod pointed out that it takes into consideration the FSB conclusion on the danger of the applicant. However, this document was not submitted for review either to the court or to Visam himself.
Until October 2018 Visam was appealing against the ruling on seizure of his passports and the conclusion of the check of the Ministry of the Interior to the superior judicial instances, however, his appeals were dismissed everywhere.
On 26 October 2018, Visam was apprehended by law-enforcement officers after the Friday prayer at the mosque. He was taken to the police department and a protocol on administrative offence was drawn up. On the same day, the Avtozavodsky District Court of Nizhny Novgorod declared Al-Tbakhi guilty of violating the regime of stay (residence) in the Russian Federation and assigned him a punishment in the form of a fine and a compulsory deportation out of the country.
This court ruling was appealed against. Today, on 8 November, this complaint will be examined.
In court, representative of Chief Directorate of the Ministry of Interior of Russia for the Nizhny Novgorod region Tatarov pointed out that it is necessary to deport Visam, as the decision was taken with his regard not to allow his entry into Russia till 2048 – aiming at providing state security and public order, as he presents danger to the Russian Federation.
Visam’s family managed to learn that Visam was apprehended by law-enforcement officers only on the fifth day after he disappeared. No one informed either Visam’s family or his lawyer on the fact that he was apprehended and convicted. According to Visam, the police officers debarred Visam the right to inform the family about his whereabouts; he was also refused the grant of a defense lawyer and a qualified interpreter.
“During several days, Visam’s wife, Karina, and their kids did not know where the head of the family was and whether he was alive and healthy. At the present time they experience strong stress, trouble with sleep, they are afraid to stay alone and be departed with their father and husband in case of his deportation, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Sergey Babinets comments. – In case of Visam’s deportation from Russia, his family will suffer not only from breaking of family ties but also from psychological trauma which will aggravate against the background of stress from long absence of father without any connection with the family after the arrest”.
Yesterday, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied to the European Court of Human Rights with a complaint against the violation of rights of Visam Al-Tbakhi and his family under Articles 3,5, 6 and 8: prohibition of torture, right to personal integrity, right to fair trial and right to respect for private and family life.
Human rights defenders asked the Court to apply “Rule 39” to this case and demand from the Russian Federation the injunctive remedies against deportation of Visam Al-Tbakhi from Russia.
“We think that in this case Visam Al-Tbakhi is, in the first place, the victim of violation of Articles 5, 6 and 8 of the European Convention with regard to his planned deportation from Russia. However, his wife and kids became the victims of violation of Article 3 of the Convention, which protects from torture, inhumane and degrading treatment, since for several days they did not know anything about Visam’s whereabouts, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Olga Sadovskaya emphasizes. – This treatment is not torture, of course, but it reaches the level of brutality of inhumane treatment, since the adult members of the family were diagnosed with severe stress because of it. In addition, we received a message that Al-Tbakhi is not provided medical assistance with regard to serious illness that he has, which may become a separate violation of Article 3 of the Convention, if the applicant’s health deteriorates”.