Italian Court Declares Shalabayeva’s Deportation Unlawful
© 31.07.2014

Alma Shalabayeva, the wife of the Kazakh oppositionist and dissident Mukhtar Ablyazov, should not have been deported from Italy, and the decision on her deportation to Kazakhstan has been declared unlawful – deemed the cassation court who granted the appeal filed by Shalabayeva. Alma appealed against the decision of a Justice of Peace of 31 May 2013 under which she had been unlawfully deported. The deportation of the wife of the Kazakh dissident based on a decision of a Justice of Peace and a decision by Rome’s prefect on administrative deportation had been unprecedented. Such a procedure was applied for the first time in Italy.

In its judgment issued on 30 July 2014, the Sixth Civil Chamber of the Supreme Court allowed Shalabayeva’s appeal and cancelled the order for her to be detained in the Italian Identification and Expulsion Centre (CIE, Rome, Ponte Galeria), approved by the Justice of Peace. 

Shalabayeva was first kept at the Identification and Expulsion Centre and then sent, along with her six-year-old daughter, by plane, to Kazakhstan.

The Supreme Court also pointed to the circumstances Shalabayeva’s deportation, which was conducted on the night of 28 to 29 May 2013. The villa in Casal Palocco, where she stayed, was forcibly entered by a special unit of the Italian police DIGOS. The aim of the operation was not to counteract and prevent illegal immigration but to find and detain Mukhtar Ablyazov.

The judgment emphasised the extraordinary reduction in the duration of detention and procedure of deportation and the isolation of Alma Shalabayeva – from the forcible entry of the police into Casal Palocco to deportation, which prevented her from exercising her right to apply for asylum and her right to a defence.

Granting the appeal filed by Shalabayeva, the cassation court also noted that it had not been difficult to check the existence of two residence documents issued in the name of Alma Shalabayeva. The basis for suspicion was, on the other hand, the diplomatic passport issued in the name of Alma Ayan and not Alma Shalabeyava.

Declaring the deportation unlawful and recognising the deprivation of Shalabayeva of her right to defence and her efforts to obtain asylum, the court awarded the Kazakh damages for breach of her personal freedom. At the same time, the judgment is the legal basis for residence permit.

Shalabayeva’s deportation caused a political scandal in Italy, leading to a vote of no confidence in Italy’s Minister of Internal Affairs, Angelino Alfano. Eventually, however, the Italian Senate dismissed the motion. Under pressure from the public and human rights organisations, Italy’s Ministry of Internal Affairs cancelled the decision on Shalabayeva’s deportation as early as on 12 July 2013.

For seven months, from 1 June 2013, Ablyazov’s wife lived in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where she was denied the right to leave the country. It was only in December that the authorities agreed for Shalabayeva and her six-year-old daughter to return to Italy, taking their house in Almaty as a pledge. The Italian Embassy issued Ablyazov’s wife with a Schengen visa. In April 2014, an extraordinary committee in the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs decided to award Alma and her daughter political asylum status.

Italian media on court decision

While commenting the court decision, the Italian media once more drew attention to the role of the then, and present, Italian Minister of the Interior Angelino Alfano. The court decision clearly shows that the identity of Alma Shalabayeva must have been known to the case officers since the very beginning. This automatically leads to the conclusion that her detainment and expulsion from Italy must have been backed by a strong political decision. Members of the Italian ‘Movimento 5 Stelle’ party, which voted for a vote of no-confidence in Angelino Alfano after the events connected to the illegal deportation of Alma Shalabayeva and her daughter to Kazakhstan, are now demanding that he resigns from office. 

In the descriptive part of the decision, the court enumerates the numerous rights of Alma Shalabayeva that were violated during her detainment – including the lack of opportunity for immediate contact with a lawyer, no interpreter provided with the simultaneous inability to communicate in either Russian or English, thus making it difficult or even impossible for Alma to properly submit an asylum application, et al. 

Moreover, the Italian press draws attention to the fact that the court decision of July 30th paves the way for the Ablyazov’s’ claims for material and immaterial damages due to illegal deportation of Alma and her daughter to Kazakhstan. As the media state, the Italian lawyers of the family had already stated they would demand said compensation from the Italian Ministry of Interior.


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