Kazakhstan should not forcibly return two Chinese citizens fleeing Xinjiang or prosecute them for illegal border crossing while their asylum claims are pending, according to Human Rights Watch.
On January 6, 2020, court hearings against the two ethnic Kazakhs, Kaster Musakhanuly and Murager Alimuly, on charges of illegal border crossing began in the eastern town of Zaysan. The hearing was adjourned after only two hours, although dozens of witnesses and supporters had traveled there to testify on their behalf, and the case was postponed to January 21.
If returned to China, the men would almost certainly face detention and a real risk of torture.
“The government should immediately drop charges of illegal border crossing, halt these proceedings, and guarantee that these men will not be sent back to China as long as their refugee claims are pending,” said Laura Mills, Europe and Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“Kazakhstan can take this opportunity to demonstrate that, unlike in the past, it is a country that upholds its international legal obligations, respects refugee rights, and won’t return people to risk of torture.”