Five Asylum Seekers from Guantanamo Arrive in Kazakhstan, Astana Confirms

ASTANA – Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed Dec. 31 the acceptance by the country of the five former detainees at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, citing their requests for asylum, petitions from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the country’s obligations under international conventions and humanistic reasons.

59_tn“According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan as the authorized body, on December 31, 2014 five asylum seekers arrived in Kazakhstan,” the Kazakh foreign ministry said in a news release. “Earlier, they were released by the U.S. Government from the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, in the absence of sufficient grounds for bringing criminal charges against them.”

“The Republic of Kazakhstan has agreed to accept these people on the basis of their personal applications and relevant petition from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), as well as guided by its international obligations, including under the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees, and on the basis of humanistic considerations,” the foreign ministry in Astana said.

On Dec. 30, the U.S. Department of Defense announced the transfer of Asim Thabit Abdullah Al-Khalaqi, Muhammad Ali Husayn Khanayna, Sabri Muhammad Ibrahim Al Qurashi, Adel Al-Hakeemy, and Abdullah Bin Ali Al-Lufti from Guantanamo to Kazakhstan.

“As directed by the president’s Jan. 22, 2009, executive order, the interagency Guantanamo Review Task Force conducted a comprehensive review of this case,” the Pentagon said. “As a result of that review, which examined a number of factors, including security issues, these men were unanimously approved for transfer by the six departments and agencies comprising the task force.”

According to the U.S. Defense Department, “in accordance with statutory requirements, the secretary of defense informed Congress of the United States’ intent to transfer these individuals and of his determination that this transfer meets the statutory standard. The United States coordinated with the Government of Kazakhstan to ensure these transfers took place consistent with appropriate security and humane treatment measures. Today, 127 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay.”

According to the Kazakh foreign ministry, the above mentioned people are granted the status of asylum seekers. “The decision on their recognition as refugees has not yet been made and it will be considered by the Ministry of the Internal Affairs in accordance with national legislation,” the foreign ministry stated.

“Expenditures associated with the arrival and subsequent stay of these persons on the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan are covered by international human rights organizations,” it added.