Phioto: Urim Krasniqi/BIRN.

Ombudsperson requests suspension of expulsion of Tienmu Ma

The Ombudsperson has told BIRN that he has signed a request to suspend the expulsion of Tienmu Ma, a US citizen that served as an adviser to former prime minister Albin Kurti.

Naim Qelaj, the newly elected Ombudsperson, told BIRN on Thursday that his first decision since taking office was to ask Prime Minister Avdullah Hoti and the Minister of Internal Affairs, Agim Veliu, to suspend the decision expelling Tienmu Ma from the country.

He said that this was largely due to the interior ministry’s decision to suspend the entire procedure for obtaining residency permits due to the COVID-19 crisis. “As far as I know, that decision is still in force,” Qelaj said. 

The Department of Citizenship, Asylum and Migration rejected an application to extend Ma’s residence permit on September 6. 

Ma submitted a complaint over the decision through his lawyer. However, this complaint was also rejected on September 21, the decision including a request for Ma to leave the country. 

According to documents obtained by BIRN, the decision to reject Ma’s complaint cited a failure to provide a translation of his diploma into Albanian and evidence of an annual income of 5,000 euros. However, BIRN has seen evidence of both a translation of his diploma and a series of bank statements proving an income of more than 5,000 euros per year.

Before being hired by Kurti in February, Ma served as a lawyer providing human rights expertise to the Parliamentary Commission Investigating the Deportation of Six Turkish Citizens. 

Earlier on Thursday, a letter to Hoti from James Silk, a Human Rights professor at Yale University, was made public. In the letter, Silk stated that Kosovo could be the subject of an investigation by the UN Special Rapporteur over the refusal of Ma’s residency permit.

“This conduct, which can only be seen as an attempt to retaliate against a human rights lawyer simply for doing his appropriate and important work, not only undermines Kosovo’s progress towards democracy and the establishment of rule of law, but also clearly violates the UN Declaration of Human Rights Defenders,” the letter states.

01/10/2020 - 21:29

01 October 2020 - 21:29

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