The European Court of Human Rights posed questions to the Russian authorities concerning the application of Visam Al-Tbakhi from Nizhny Novgorod, who was deported from Russia in 2019. According to the new rules of the European Court, at first the parties are asked to come to terms peacefully. In case both parties agree, Russia will pay a compensation for damage inflicted to the applicant with his expulsion. If by 7 May 2021 no agreement is reached, the case will be examined on its merits, and the Russian authorities will have to answer to the questions posed by the court.
As we have previously reported, Visam Al-Tbakhi originates from Hebron city of the Palestinian Authority. Since 2000 he dwelled in Nizhny Novgorod together with his wife, Karina. The married couple has eight children.
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 protocols 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, when announcing the dismissal of 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. On the same day, Visam was taken to the Special Institution for Temporary Stay of Foreign Citizens and Non-Citizens with the Department of the Federal Migration Service of Russia for the Nizhny Novgorod region.
To avoid deportation, on 7 November 2018, lawyers with the Committee Against Torture applied to the European Court of Human Rights with an application regarding 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 a fair trial, right to respect for private and family life. In addition, human rights defenders requested that the court applied Rule 39 to this case and demanded that the Russian authorities take injunctive remedies preventing from Visam Al’-Tbakhi’s deportation from the Russian Federation.
On 25 October 2019, Visam Al’-Tbakhi was forcefully deported from Russia. Since that time the family is separated from their father. All this time, human rights defenders were trying to achieve justice at the national level, but they never succeeded.
On 1 March 2021, the European Court of Human Rights communicated the application of Visam Al’-Tbakhi. In particular, the Strasbourg judges posed the following questions to the Russian authorities:
– what were the grounds for the letter of the FSB of the Nizhny Novgorod region dated 3 November 2018 to the Ministry of the Interior with a request to check the circumstances of issuance of the Russian citizenship to the applicant?
– what body issued a ruling that the applicant represents a threat to Russian national security and he should be banned from returning to Russia till January 2048?
– did the courts consider the issue of the balance of the public interests and the right to respect of the family life?
– how did the domestic courts draw a conclusion on the danger of the applicant?
– was the applicant familiarized with the information on undesirability of his stay in the country and could he argue against that?
According to the new rules of the European Court, at first the parties are asked to come to terms peacefully. In case both parties agree, Russia will pay a compensation for damage inflicted to the applicant with his expulsion. If no agreement is reached, the case will be examined on its merits, and the parties will have an opportunity to speak out concerning the content of the facts and answer to the questions posed by the court.
“To all the questions posed by the European Court there is only one answer: “No!” No, the applicant does not present a threat. No, the applicant did not see any document elaborating what kind of threat and why he was presenting. No, the applicant’s right to respect of the family life was not observed. No, the courts did not examine his case appropriately at none of its stages. And yes – the applicant is deported from Russia and for almost three years he has not seen his family”, – lawyer with the Committee Against Torture Olga Sadovskaya comments.
“I’m not concerned about the financial compensation, what’s important for me is to defend my honor, my family and let the justice prevail, – Visam point out himself. – I was living in Russia for most part of my life, and now, despite the fact that I’m living in the country of my birth, I feel I don’t belong here”.