In our database, ‘Central Asia’ denotes the five former-Soviet Central Asian Republics (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan). Each entry in the database is a particular political exile from one of the five republics. Of course, extra-territorial security takes place beyond the borders of these states, across the region and far beyond. In the scope of the CAPE project is global. However, while exiles from other former Soviet states are subject to similar practise our focus is currently limited to Central Asia.
‘Exile’, for the purpose of our analysis, is a category of emigrant who has settled or spent a prolonged period overseas for reasons which are wholly or partly of a political character. Therefore, labour migrants and other types of migrants are excluded. In some cases, the exile may not identify as an exile and may claim to be an economic migrant but may be targeted by their home country’s government for political reasons. Exiles may be refugees or asylum-seekers or may not. Many of the persons in the database have sought temporary haven in many countries, often pursued by their home government. Their movements should also be included in the database entry. We identify four categories of exiles:
- Former regime insiders and family members;
- Members of opposition political parties and movements;
- Banned clerics and alleged religious extremists, including alleged members of proscribed terrorist groups;
- Independent journalists, academics and civil society activists.
Some political exiles span the boundary between two or more of these categories. Overall, the database includes some odd bedfellows, from an ex-President (Kurmanbek Bakiyev of Kyrgyzstan) to human rights activists and journalists. Inclusion in the database does not imply an assumption either of innocence or of guilt on charges filed by the state of concern. Many persons have been found guilty in their home states in trials that do not meet international standards. A few have been found guilty in jurisdictions where fair trials are found. Many others have not been convicted of anything. What they share in common is having been deemed threatening to some degree by the regime of their home country.
‘Extraterritorial security’ denotes a range of practices to track and ultimately detain, capture or assassinate an exile who is deemed a threat to the regime in power. While security officers may portray their targets as transnational militants or terrorists who are threats to national or international security – sometimes with due cause – they are subject to extraterritorial measures due to being identified as a threat to regime security. We identify three stages of extra-territorial security. Individuals are:
- Put on notice, which includes informal warnings and threats to individuals and intimidation of family members and formal arrests warrants, including Interpol notices, and extradition requests
- Arrest and/or detention, which includes short-term and long-term periods of detention ordered by courts and irregular detention and detention without charge, and conviction to serve a sentence at home
- Rendition and/or attack, which includes a formal extradition to face torture and imprisonment, informal rendition often following release from detention, disappearance, assassination and serious attacks with an attempt to murder or disable.