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The article discusses some issues of international and European Union (EU) law raised by the expulsion from Italy, and repatriation to Kazakhstan, of Alma Shalabayeva and her daughter, a minor. The expulsion has been described as constituting an act of “extraordinary rendition” by three UN Special Rapporteurs and is said to have manifestly violated the rights of the interested individuals to receive asylum, or other international protection, as well as the principle of non-refoulement. Italy’s conduct has also been castigated from an EU law perspective, notably for alleged violations of the Schengen acquis and of the EU’s Returns Directive. The author assesses these allegations in the light of the documentation currently available and of the Italian legal framework on migration, arguing that some of the accusations against Italy were proffered without thorough and objective analysis of the factual and legal background. As to the alleged violation of the non-refoulement principle, a diversified picture emerges, with regard to expulsions to Kazakhstan, both from European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) case law and from recent decisions of national courts on similar cases. Besides, it is not clear whether the failure to consider some crucial elements, in the course of the repatriation procedure, resulted from wilful or negligent conduct on the part of the Italian authorities, or from the reluctance of the individual concerned to produce certain information. At the same time, the author points out that the expulsion procedure carried out in respect of Shalabayeva and her daughter raises a number of legal questions, notably as to the respect of some obligations stemming from Italian immigration law and from the EU Returns Directive.


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