SARAJEVO, Bosnia (October 20,2008) — Amnesty International, the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Bosnia, and Human Rights Watch called upon Bosnian authorities in Bosnia not to deport Imad Al Husein (also known as Abu Hamza al-Suri, his nom de guerre).He participated in the defence of Bosnia from the genocidal Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian fascist aggressors in the 1990's,and who is now detained by some criminals within the Bosnian government and may face deportation to Syria.
The organizations say that he should be freed from immigration detention immediately.
On October 6, 2008, the Bosnian authorities seized Al Husein in the Bosnian capital Sarajevo and placed him in the Lukavica immigration detention center, pending possible deportation to Syria. Al Husein is on a hunger strike to protest his confinement and pending deportation.
“The authorities of Bosnia should act in accordance with the rule of law,” said Nicola Duckworth, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International. “Any measures taken should comply with the international obligations Bosnia has taken upon itself to respect.”
The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has also warned Bosnia against deporting Al Husein before it has had an opportunity to consider his appeal to that body.
There is no current legal basis for detaining Al Husein. The deportation proceedings against him have been voided pending his hearing for asylum or a temporary residence permit. He is an unlikely flight risk due to his family situation and has complied with regular reporting requirements with the Bosnian State Agency for Foreigners.
“Bosnia should stop its illegal deportation proceedings against Imad Al Husein immediately and set him free,” said Ben Ward, Associate Director of the Europe & Central Asia Division of Human Rights Watch.
It is believed that between 2,000 and 5,000 foreign fighters came to the country during the 1992-1995 Serbian,Montenegrin and Croatian aggressions ahainst Bosnia. Most of them left after the war, but a few hundred married Bosnian women, had families and remained in Bosnia.Abu Hamza is one of them.
He obtained Bosnian citizenship in 1994 but some criminals within the Bosnian government, claiming "he posed a threat to national security", revoked it in 2001.
Foreign and domestic Christian fundamentalist media has speculated that Abu Hamza may have been linked to al Qaeda - though none of those claims and accusations were backed up by any evidence.