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Ombudsman call on ministry

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, September 26
The Public Defender of Georgia, Ucha Nanuashvili, has addressed the Minister of Internally Displaced Persons, Refugees and Accommodation of Georgia with a request to annul the decision according to which Turkish citizen Mustafa Emre Cabuk and his family members were denied refugee and humanitarian status.

Cabuk, who has been in pre-extradition detention since May this year, faces terrorist-related charges in Turkey.

Nanuashvili called on the Refugee Minister to make a new, “well-founded decision” in order to resume the case proceedings.

The Ombudsman wrote that as a result of studying the case materials, it was established that the Ministry had not thoroughly examined all the circumstances of the case over the course of its decision-making process, which resulted in a decision that cannot be properly justified, and could serve as basis for its revocation.

“The Ministry did not fully evaluate the situation of human rights in the Republic of Turkey, which had direct connection with the case,” said Nanuashvili. “In particular, the administrative body did not take into account the following: non-investigation of the cases of torture and ill-treatment, presumable restoration of the death penalty announced by the Turkish authorities, use of anti-terrorism law towards the opposition-minded population, drawbacks in the mentioned law, problems related to the access to justice, difficulties in terms of freedom of expression,” he stressed.

Nanuashvili stated that it is noted in the recommendation that special attention should be paid to the information about the country of origin (the Republic of Turkey in this particular case) when making a decision on the asylum seekers, which should be compared with the data provided by the asylum seeker to the Ministry.

“The study of the case materials revealed that the decision made by the Ministry contradicts the Georgian legislation, which is why it should be annulled,” Nanuashvili said.

Georgia’s Ministry of Refugees refused to grant refugee status to Cabuk, who has been engaged with educational activities in Georgia for many years, in early July.

The refusal for Cabuk, detained for alleged terrorist links, may mean that he will be extradited if the Georgian court leaves the Ministry’s solution unchanged.

The refusal caused anger amongst the opposition and NGOs, calling the government’s decision “shameful”, as, according to them, Cabuk’s life could be at risk in Turkey.

The Ministry of Refugees explained that Cabuk “didn’t meet” the demands for humanitarian status and the situation in the Turkish courts and prisons was positively assessed by the European experts.

The Ministry claimed Cabuk’s life will not be at risk in his homeland, despite his alleged links with Fethullah Gulen, and the people detained on the same charge “were fine in prison.”

The Ministry of Refugees added that the messages provided by Cabuk’s wife were not enough to be granted the refugee status.

Mustafa Emre Cabuk has been living in Georgia since 2002. From 2016 he has served as a Quality Management Manager of Demirel Private College.

Cabuk was detained on May 24 after the official visit of Turkish Prime Minister and members of Cabinet to Georgia.