Serbia has extradited to Turkey a Kurdish political activist who had been seeking asylum, defying a warning from the United Nations’ Committee Against Torture (UNCAT).
Cevdet Ayaz was taken away from a Belgrade center for foreigners where he was staying after his asylum request was rejected by Serbian authorities, his lawyer and police officials said on December 26.
Ayaz had requested asylum earlier this year after fleeing Turkey, where he had been sentenced to 15 years in prison over alleged activities against the constitution.
The UN Committee Against Torture on December 18 urged Serbia, which is a candidate for European Union membership, to refrain from extraditing Ayaz.
“Please be aware of your UNCAT obligations,” the committee’s chairman, Jens Modvig, tweeted on December 25.
Serbia has ratified the UN Convention Against Torture, which went into force in 1987.
But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has jailed thousands of people who he has called his enemies in the wake of a 2016 coup attempt against him, and human rights groups accuse him of using a state of emergency declared after the coup attempt to quash decades-long Kurdish dissent and political opposition.
An unnamed Serbian police official told Reuters on December 26 that Serbian courts had ruled that Turkey met all preconditions for the extradition of Ayaz, and the Justice Ministry acted accordingly by extraditing him.
“The motion by the UN came after” the court rulings, this official said.
Officials at Serbia’s Justice Ministry were not immediately available for comment.
Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who hosted Erdogan on a visit to Belgrade in October, has been seeking to boost economic ties with Turkey.