(Tunis) – One year after his arrest at Casablanca airport, Yidiresi Aishan, also known as Idris Hasan, a Uyghur activist, remains under threat of extradition from Morocco to China, where there are substantial grounds to believe that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture, 45 human rights organizations said today.
After arriving in Morocco on a flight from Turkey, where he had been living with his family since 2012, Aishan was arrested on the night of July 19-20, 2021 on the basis of what is known as a red notice issued by Interpol at China’s request, “for belonging to a terrorist organization.” In recent years, China has increasingly used the Interpol red notice system to stifle dissent.
On July 20, 2021, Aishan was brought before the prosecutor at the Court of First Instance in Casablanca, who ordered that he be remanded in custody in Tiflet prison, pending the decision of the Court of Cassation. Since then, he has remained detained in that same prison.
On December 15, 2021, the Court of Cassation in Rabat issued a favorable opinion on the extradition request, despite Interpol’s August 2021 cancellation of the red notice issued against Aishan, on the grounds that it violated its statutes and Aishan’s filing of an application for refugee status with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Since that decision, the issuance of an extradition decree by the Moroccan prime minister is the only step separating Aishan from extradition.
The issuance of such a decree would contradict Morocco’s international obligations, including the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which states in article 3 that “no State Party shall expel, return (“refouler”) or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.”
When living in Turkey, Aishan reportedly provided translation assistance to other Uyghurs in exile and helped collect testimonies on human rights violations in Xinjiang. As a member of the Uyghur community and given his activism, Aishan would face real risks of torture and other ill-treatment as well as prolonged arbitrary detention if forcibly returned to China.
Uyghurs are increasingly experiencing persecution and large-scale human rights violations in Xinjiang. Members of the diaspora who are not firmly settled in third countries are facing a real risk of detention and refoulement.
Multiple international bodies have thus called on Morocco not to extradite Aishan to China in accordance with the fundamental principle of nonrefoulement.
On August 11, 2021, several UN Special Procedures mandate holders sent an urgent appeal to Morocco, recalling the absolute and non-derogable prohibition against returning a person to a place where they would be at risk of torture or other ill- treatment.
The experts reiterated their call in a statement on December 16, 2021, highlighting the risk of “serious human rights violations, including arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, or torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment” that Aishan could face if returned to China.
At the request of MENA Rights Group and Safeguard Defenders, the UN Committee against Torture (CAT) sent a request for interim measures to the Moroccan authorities on December 20, 2021. In order to prevent irreparable harm to Aishan, the Moroccan authorities were instructed “not to extradite the complainant [Aishan] to China while his request is under consideration by the Committee.” Aishan’s case remains pending before the Committee, which has yet to issue a final decision.
In light of the above, Moroccan authorities should cancel the extradition proceedings against Aishan and release him from his year-long detention, which, in the absence of periodic judicial review, individual assessment, and credible grounds, may amount to arbitrary detention, the groups said.