Uzbek woman released after having lost her child and being imprisoned indefinitely ahead of expulsion

The Dzerzhinsky district court of St. Petersburg, after considering the legal appeal made by a lawyer who cooperated with ADC “Memorial”, on behalf of Mrs. U., an Uzbek citizen, ruled on November 22, 2017 to release her from the temporary detention center for foreign nationals, where she had been kept “for the purpose of securing expulsion” for more than six months. The court found impossible to deport her from Russia since the bailiff’s office had earlier banned her from leaving the country because of debt on alimony.

Earlier, in April 2017, U. was recognized as guilty of violating immigration regulations and was sentenced to a fine and administrative expulsion from the country by the same court. U. wanted to voluntarily leave the Russian Federation, but she could not do so, as it turned out that she had been forbidden to leave the country by the bailiff’s service because of the debt on child support (more than 200,000 rubles). Only when trying to leave Russia, did U. learn of the debt on support for a child, whom she had considered dead. According to her, she had been told after the birth that the child had died, she had signed some document in Russian while she had not understood the content of the document. Later it turned out that she had been deprived of parental rights and that the child had been alive. All this was unexpected for the unfortunate mother. Not being able to restore parental rights for the child because of the debt and the poor living conditions of the immigrant woman, she also could not leave the Russian Federation. U. was forced to violate the immigration regulations, which in turn led to an absurd decision on her expulsion with prior placement into the temporary detention center for foreign nationals. At the same time she was not be allowed to leave the Russian Federation.

The lawyer of Mrs. U. appealed to the Dzerzhinsky district court, demanding to stop the execution of the ruling on expulsion and indicating that U. could not pay the arrears on alimony, while being deprived of liberty in the temporary detention center for foreign nationals. This request was also supported by the bailiff during the court hearings. The lawyer also stated that long-term imprisonment in the detention center for foreign nationals without possibility of expulsion and being kept in conditions that humiliated human dignity, had violated the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights (as had been established by the European Court of Human Rights in the case of “Kim v. Russia”). In addition, the lawyer referred to the decision of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation No.14-P, dated May 23, 2017, which had recognized the provisions of the Code of Administrative Offenses to be unconstitutional, because according to these provisions foreign citizens and stateless persons could be actually kept in detention for indefinite periods of time and without judicial control, even if their deportation was impracticable. The new version of the above-mentioned provisions of the Code of Administrative Offenses should enter into force before the end of 2017, but already for half a year the courts have been ruling to apply progressive provisions to prevent and stop illegal detentions in temporary detention centers for foreign nationals.

Welcoming the release of U. from the detention center, ADC “Memorial” at the same time expressed concern over the violation of the rights of a citizen of Uzbekistan, who had suffered from forced separation from her child, while her legal status had remained problematic, both in terms of her immigration status (she could not legally reside in the Russian Federation after liberation, nor could she leave the country) and in terms of a huge debt on alimony.

In fact, by depriving the mother of her child, by having obliged her to pay money for the child’s support, although she did not want to give the newborn to the state in the first place, the Russian state put U. in a legal impasse. The state has no right to separate immigrant mothers from their children and to violate the rights of both children and their parents. ADC “Memorial” has repeatedly noted the tragic consequences of forcible removal of children from migrant parents, as in the case of Umarali Nazarov, when such actions had resulted in the death of the child. The case of U. shows that a woman, who had found herself in a difficult life situation in immigration, not only has lost her child, but also her right to freedom of movement and to a free life outside the prison.