Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Wednesday urged [press release] the Spanish government to reverse its decision to extradite Alexsandr Pavlov to Kazakhstan. Pavlov, an associate of opposition figure Mukhtar Ablyazov, whose extradition was originally ordered [JURIST report] in January by a French court, has been detained by Spanish authorities since 2012 on charges of financial and terrorism-related crimes. Various sources have informed AI that the Council of Ministers has given final approval to the extradition, though no decision has yet been made public. Although the Kazakhstani government has apparently offered Spain diplomatic assurances that Pavlov will not be tortured upon his return, "[a]ssurances of humane treatment from governments that routinely torture are useless," said Julia Hall, criminal justice expert for AI. After a decision by the Council of Ministers, Pavlov will have an opportunity to challenge the legality of his extradition to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) [official website], which can require Spain to temporarily stop the extradition.
Kazakhstan has recently drawn international criticism for its human rights record. In November a court in Kazakhstan upheld [JURIST report] the conviction of an outspoken opposition leader accused of inciting dissent in an attempt to overthrow the government. In September Human Rights Watch (HRW) claimed that oil workers in the country face mistreatment [JURIST report] and repression at the hands of the government and oil companies. In August HRW urged Kazakhstan to ensure that the trials of Kozlov, another political activist, and an oil worker comport with international legal standards [JURIST report] for fair trials. In July UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay called for an independent probe [JURIST report] into the December unrest between oil workers and an oil company. In June HRW demanded [JURIST report] that the National Security Committee of Kazakhstan publicly disclose the reason for bringing new charges against a group of labor activists and an oil worker who participated in the December unrest. The committee charged them with "calling for the forcible overthrow of the constitutional order."