ADC “Memorial” achieved release of Uzbek citizen from temporary detention center

Сourt rulings on the expulsion of migrants during the COVID-19 pandemic contradict Russian presidential decree

Despite the fact that in the situation of the COVID-19 pandemic and the difficulties in communication between countries, the special decree of the President of the Russian Federation had facilitated the migration regime, the Russian courts continue to make decisions on the expulsion of migrants. Cancellation of such court rulings has to be sought in the courts of higher instances.

On September 14, 2021, the St. Petersburg city court, having considered the legal complaint of lawyer Olga Tseitlina, who cooperated with the Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial”, ruled to release Mr. K., a native of Uzbekistan, who had been previously placed into a temporary detention centre for foreign nationals until his planned expulsion from the Russian Federation. By an earlier court decision by Kolpino district court of St. Petersburg he had been found to be a violator of migration legislation, fined 5,000 rubles and placed into temporary detention centre because of losing his identity documents (passport, migration card and labor patent) and missing the permitted period of stay in the Russian Federation.

Lawyer Olga Tseitlina, who has represented Mr. K. with the support of ADC “Memorial” in the city court, referred, among other things, to Article 8 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (the right to respect for private and family life), because Mr. K.’s sister was a citizen of the Russian Federation.

The St.Petersburg city court did not accept this argument, upholding the earlier decision of the Kolpino district court, which had stated that the loss of identity documents and missing time for leaving the country (which was impossible during a pandemic) constituted an administrative offense. At the same time, the St.Petersburg city court indicated that additional punishment in the form of administrative expulsion could not be imposed, since according to Paragraph A of Clause 2 of the Decree of the President of the Russian Federation No. 364 dated June 15, 2021, it was established that until September 30, 2021, no decisions on administrative expulsions were to be made concerning foreign citizens and stateless persons in the territory of the Russian Federation.

Mr. K. was released from the temporary detention centre for foreign nationals, but his placement there and the court sessions, which required significant efforts and resources, should not have had happened at all. Russian law enforcement agencies and courts should comply with the Russian legislation and follow international recommendations in order to ease the migration regime during a pandemic.