Khalida AzhigulovaFrom: The Oxford Handbook of International Refugee Law
Edited By: Cathryn Costello, Michelle Foster, Jane McAdam
This chapter reflects on refugee protection laws and practices in the political region of Central Asia, which includes five post-Soviet States. Four of them—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan—are parties to the Refugee Convention and its Protocol and have been at the crossroads of massive refugee movements since the 1990s. The fifth State, Uzbekistan, is not a party to either instrument. The chapter undertakes a comparative analysis of local legislation, refugee status determination procedures, and jurisprudence in asylum cases between 2010 and 2017, and draws on findings from fieldwork in Central Asian States in 2016–17. It advances two main arguments. The first argument is that refugee protection in the region is highly politicized and aligned with the self-interests of the States. The second argument is that, despite the lack of full compliance with refugee law in the region, over the past two decades, the ratification of the Refugee Convention and international pressure in landmark refugee cases and other efforts has led to noticeable improvements in refugee protection, and a reduction in refoulement in three States which care about their political image internationally (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan).