Annual Report: Uzbekistan 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Uzbekistan 2010

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Head of state Islam Karimov
Head of government Shavkat Mirzioiev
Death penalty abolitionist for all crimes
Population 27.5 million
Life expectancy 67.6 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 65/63 per 1,000
Adult literacy 96.9 per cent

The authorities persisted in their refusal to allow an independent, international investigation into the mass killing of protesters in Andizhan in 2005. Human rights defenders and journalists continued to be targeted, and some were sentenced to prison terms after unfair trials. Dozens of members of minority religious Islamic groups were given long prison terms after unfair trials. The space for freedom of religion and belief contracted further. In waves of arbitrary detentions, the security forces swept up a range of individuals and their relatives suspected of involvement with banned Islamist parties and armed groups accused of attacks throughout the country. Thousands of people convicted of involvement with Islamic movements and Islamist parties remained imprisoned in harsh and life-threatening conditions. Reports of torture or other ill-treatment continued.

International scrutiny

Four years after the killing of hundreds of mainly peaceful demonstrators by the security forces in Andizhan on 13 May 2005, the authorities still refused to initiate or allow an independent, international investigation into the events. The government failed to release all imprisoned human rights defenders or meet other human rights benchmarks set by the EU in 2005 when it imposed a visa ban on 12 officials and an arms embargo following the killings. The government considered the matter closed, as it had informed a UN Universal Periodic Review of human rights in December 2008 when its representatives once more denied the use of excessive or disproportionate force.

In October the EU unconditionally lifted the arms embargo on Uzbekistan despite the government's failures to meet the EU's human rights benchmarks.

Counter-terror and security

New waves of arbitrary detentions followed reported attacks in the Ferghana Valley and the capital, Tashkent, in May and August and the killings of a pro government imam and a high-ranking police officer in Tashkent in July. The authorities blamed the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) and the unregistered Islamist Hizb-ut- Tahrir party, banned in Uzbekistan, for the attacks and killings. The IJU claimed responsibility for attacks on a police station, a border checkpoint and a government office in Khanabad on 26 May, as well as a suicide bombing at a police station in Andizhan the same day. At least three people died in a shoot-out between unidentified armed men and security forces in Tashkent on 29 August. In September at least 90 men were detained during a counter-terrorism operation in Dzhizzakh.

Among the dozens detained as suspected members or sympathizers of the IMU, the IJU and Hizb-ut-Tahrir were men and women who attended unregistered mosques, studied under independent imams, had travelled or studied abroad, or had relatives who lived abroad or were suspected of affiliation to banned Islamist groups. Many were believed to have been detained without charge or trial for lengthy periods. There were reports of torture and unfair trials.