The Welcome! Initiative addressed irregularities related to returns of refugees according to Dublin agreement and readmission procedures; it emphasized the unprofessional usage of the colloquial language in case of decision making on humans lives and safety, and it reacted to insinuations and charges against the civil society organizations and their mission. We strongly believe that we must warn and react against human rights violations and degradation of the international protection/asylum procedure in Croatia. For further information, please read the Open Letter to the Prime Minister Plenković.
Croatia must not step away from the human rights protection principle, whatsoever. These days again a strong reminder to that is the case of the male who had been granted the refugee status in Switzerland against political prosecution in Turkey and who is now imprisoned in Croatia under threat of being extradited to Turkey. The extradition was decided at the County court of Vukovar after what Supreme Court validated the decision. Nurettin Oral had been living in Switzerland with his family for 13 years as a recognized refugee before he was arrested this summer in Croatia based on the warrant accusing him of taking part in Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) in 1999. PKK was enunciated as a terrorist organization. Exactly because of this specific reason, that is fear of prosecution and threat to life and safety, Switzerland granted him the international humanitarian protection. It was believed that Turkey would not secure and guarantee him a fair trial.
The Supreme Court in Croatia stated in its’ decision that Nurettin Oral was granted asylum in Switzerland that is not an EU member and therefore the State of Croatia does not find it relevant to consider this fact while deciding on extradition. Oral’s lawyer in Croatia expresses her surprise with the Court’s decision since all the signatories of The Hague Conventions, and the 1951 Geneva Convention and 1967 Geneva Protocol must respect the rights of the refugees guaranteed with the Convention. The Minister of Justice is responsible for making the right decision now; he is requested to pay attention when deciding on the life and safety of this individual. Besides formal and legal conditions for extradition, he is asked to focus on the material-legal presumptions of the future decision since it is known that there are numerous cases warning us that international warrants issued by the Interpol have been abused for a continuation of political prosecutions. This is not the first request for extradition of those accused of terrorism that happened during their visits to Croatia. All of them were, incidentally or not, from Turkey. All of the earlier cases have proven to be the abuse of the system and violations of rights of the refugees.
Let us remind here that relevant international organizations such as the Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch regularly report on violations of the opponents’ rights in Turkey. Based on all the reports and warnings, it is a logical conclusion that the person accused would not encounter a fair trial in Turkey, if extradited. Namely, as of July 2016 Turkish authorities arrest thousands of political opponents while they push forward the death penalty decision. At the same time, Turkey adopts derogation of the European Convention on Human Rights. The convention strongly bans torture and other inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment. Therefore, every judge needs to establish the fact whether there is a threat to torture, inhumane and degrading treatment if Nuretin gets extradited to Turkey. In this case, extradition would be against the ‘non-refoulment’ principle guaranteed through the vast number of international documents. It is of utmost importance that Croatia acts accordingly to legal regulations and civilization standards and therefore not extradite this human to the danger and uncertainty of the Turkish legal system, especially bearing in mind that this very person has been a recognized refugee for more than 13 years.
On Friday last week, Nurettin’s neighbours and fellows have given him support in Bern, in front of the Croatian Embassy.
The trial for Ahmed H. has continued this January in Szeged in Hungary. Throughout the whole trial, he is supported by the activists running the campaign Free
the Röszke 11, and numerous international activists. In order to express their solidarity with Ahmed H., Röszke 11, campaign activists, political prisoners and imprisoned migrants and refugees in Hungary and elsewhere, activists in Zagreb have exposed the banner at the Central Railway Station requesting for the immediate release of Ahmed H. and freedom for all the prisoners of the racist and neocolonial Fortress Europe.