Uzbekistan: Human rights briefing

Human rights record

Amnesty International has criticised the Uzbek authorities for their dire human rights record - including the detention of thousands of people on political or religious grounds, systematic torture, unfair trials, deaths in custody and persecution of religious minorities, gay men and human rights activists.

Arbitrary arrests

In 2004 hundreds of men and Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights, said to be either devout Muslims or their relatives, were arbitrarily detained following a series of explosions and attacks on police checkpoints and suicide bombings against the US and Israeli embassies.

Dozens of men and Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights were sentenced in unfair trials on charges of "terrorism". Evidence was reportedly obtained under torture and admitted in court.

Secret use of the death penalty

Every year Uzbekistan secretly executes prisoners.

On numerous occasions families have not been told that their relatives had even been executed and they have been denied the right to claim the body of executed relatives.

Tamara Chikunova, for example, went to visit her son Dmitry, aged 28, in Tashkent prison on 12 July 2000. She discovered that he had been executed in secret two days earlier.

Tamara alleges that her son was tortured into confessing to having committed murder. Executions have also gone ahead despite the country's international obligation to the UN Human Rights Committee, which on a number of occasions has demanded that executions should be halted until the committee had examined reports of unfair trials and ill-treatment in pre-trial detention.

By May 2005, the authorities had executed at least 15 death row prisoners on whose behalf the UN committee had intervened.

President Islam Karimov stated on 2 December 2004 that between 50 and 60 people had been sentenced to death that year alone.

However, in violation of Uzbekistan's international obligations, the country has never published comprehensive statistics on the numbers of death sentences and executions.

Case of three men facing execution

On 11 May 2005 Amnesty International issued an 'urgent action' appeal on behalf of three men on deathrow:

  • Nazirzhan Azizov (born 1972)
  • Khurshidbek Salaidinov (born 1984)
  • Bakhtiorzhan Tuichiev (born 1974)

The three men are believed to be in imminent danger of execution. They were reportedly tortured to force them to confess to murder, and sentenced to death in October 2004.

They were convicted of two murders by Andizhan Regional Court, in a trial that reportedly fell far short of international standards: all three alleged in court that they had been tortured to make them sign confessions to the murders, but the court failed to investigate their claims.

All three men's appeals against their death sentences were rejected by the same court in December and again in February.

The families of Bakhtiorzhan Tuichiev and Khurshidbek Salaidinov claimed that they had been beaten so badly in custody that they were unable to move for several weeks.

They were not allowed to meet with lawyers hired by their families, and were only able to meet with a state-appointed lawyer after they had been in custody for a month.

Craig Murray affair

Amnesty International believes that former UK ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray's championing of human rights in Uzbekistan was extremely important.

Amnesty International's work in protecting human rights involves briefing ambassadors like Mr Murray before they take up their posts.

The human rights organisation believes that the UK government should support a strong British voice for human rights in Tashkent.

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