One of a group of Chechens detained in Croatia since November has reportedly been acquitted and granted asylum in the country. Two others, similarly detained on suspicion of religious extremism, were reportedly released.
An administrative court in Zagreb ruled on 13 July to release the detainee and grant him asylum, according to Isa Daduyev, a representative of the Assembly of Chechens of Europe.
Daduyev told OC Media that the decision came after a court had ruled on 23 May that there was a lack of evidence to support extremism charges, and that two other detainees were also subsequently acquitted of similar charges and released.
‘The court, having acquitted him, made a fair decision, and further holding him, as well as other detainees, on charges of Islamic radicalism was not justified’, Daduyev said.
‘Now he is putting together the necessary documents. The other day, two others were also released by a court decision, but they have not yet been informed about whether they will be granted or denied asylum in Croatia’, Daduyev said.
Daduyev added that while ‘dozens’ of other Chechen refugees remained detained in the migrant camp, only two others were similarly suspected of Islamic radicalism.
‘They have different reasons for detention, such as an earlier ban on entering Europe and illegal border crossing. Their fates are decided a little easier’, said Daduyev.
Daduyev believes that the main driving factor in the appearance of large numbers of Chechen refugees in Croatia was the Russian announcement of mobilisation for the war in Ukraine.
‘This does not mean that the Chechens were afraid to participate in the war, it’s just that the majority of Chechens believe that this is not their war’, added Daduyev.
More than 50 Chechens have reportedly been detained in Croatia since November 2022. On 21 April, the Chechen human rights group Vayfond reported that a group of detainees had gone on hunger strike in protest at a decision to extend their detention by three months.
Vayfond have also reported on poor conditions in the migrant camp, and the use of violence by law enforcement officers against the detainees.
Speaking to OC Media, the Centre for Peace Studies, based in Zagreb, confirmed on 21 June that three Chechen asylum seekers who had been held at Ježevo detention centre for more than six months were moved to an open facility for asylum seekers. They added that they hoped similar rulings would follow for two others, but could not confirm the total number of Chechens currently in detention in the centre.
This text initially referred to the deciding court by an incorrect title. The name of the court was amended on 21 June.
The article was also updated to add the comments of the Centre for Peace Studies.