Russia has deported an asylum seeker from Togo despite fears he will be murdered for refusing to kill opposition activists
Russia has deported Togolese citizen Bozobeyidu Batomi, human rights advocates from the Civic Assistance Committee told the BBC Russian Service. According to Novaya Gazeta, a Royal Air Moroc flight that was likely carrying Batomi left Moscow on the morning of July 8.
Batomi, 42, was deported despite the fact that his appeal of a decision to deny him refugee status will only be considered on July 22. Human rights advocates believe that he may face imprisonment, torture, or even extrajudicial assassination upon his return to Togo.
Batomi fled Togo in 2014. Until then, he had fought in a local militia; his job included dispersing opposition protests. After one such protest, he freed two people who had been arrested and whom the government had planned to execute. Batomi then refused to participate in an operation to kill an opposition leader. He was sent to prison and tortured for his refusal. Batomi managed to escape to neighboring Ghana and then to Russia.
In September of 2015, a local branch of Russia’s Federal Migration Service denied Batomi refugee status, calling his testimony about political persecution “speculative.” The court where he disputed that decision also ruled against him.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), meanwhile, recognized Batomi as an asylum seeker in need of international protection in 2018 after he applied for protected status there as well. UNHCR began preparing documents to relocate Batomi to another country, but he moved to Belarus before those documents were completed. There, he applied for asylum once again, but his application was denied, and he was sent back to Russia.
The police headquarters of the Bryansk region, where Batomi was sent from Belarus, explained that he was deported because he did not submit an application for temporary asylum status. Civic Assistance employees said that he did, in fact, apply for that status.