Annual Report: Uzbekistan 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Uzbekistan 2011

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Head of state: Islam Karimov
Head of government: Shavkat Mirzioiev
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes
Population: 27.8 million
Life expectancy: 68.2 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 63/53 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 99.3 per cent

Reports of torture or other ill-treatment continued unabated. Dozens of members of minority religious and Islamic groups were given long prison terms after unfair trials. Human rights defenders continued to be imprisoned after unfair trials. The authorities forcefully rejected all international calls for an independent, international investigation into the mass killings of protesters.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Despite assertions by the authorities that the practice of torture had significantly decreased, reports of torture or other ill-treatment of detainees and prisoners continued unabated. In most cases, the authorities failed to conduct prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into these allegations.

Several thousand people convicted of involvement with Islamist parties or Islamic movements banned in Uzbekistan, as well as government critics and political opponents, continued to serve long prison terms under conditions that amounted to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

Uzbekistan again refused to allow the UN Special Rapporteur on torture to visit the country despite renewed requests.

  • In June, the authorities released opposition politician Sanzhar Umarov on humanitarian grounds and allowed him to rejoin his family in the USA. Sanzhar Umarov had been sentenced to eight years in prison in 2006 on charges of fraud and embezzlement after an unfair trial. His supporters claimed the charges were politically motivated. In September, he described in the New York Times how he had spent months in solitary confinement in small concrete punishment cells with little natural light and no heating. He reported being beaten by prison guards and other prisoners and being denied medical treatment.
  • The European Court of Human Rights ruled on 10 June in the case Garayev v. Azerbaijan that the extradition of Shaig Garayev from Azerbaijan to Uzbekistan would violate the prohibition of torture under the European Convention on Human Rights. The court stated that "any criminal suspect held in custody [in Uzbekistan] faces a serious risk of being subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment".

Counter-terror and security

Closed trials started in January of nearly 70 defendants charged in relation to attacks in the Ferghana Valley and the capital, Tashkent, in May and August 2009 and the killings of a pro-government imam and a high-ranking police officer in Tashkent in July 2009. The authorities blamed the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), the Islamic Jihad Union (IJU) and the Islamist Hizb-ut-Tahrir party, all banned in Uzbekistan, for the attacks and killings. Among the scores detained as suspected members or sympathizers of the IMU, the IJU and Hizb-ut-Tahrir in 2009 were people who attended unregistered mosques, studied under independent imams, had travelled abroad, or were suspected of affiliation to banned Islamic groups. Many were believed to have been detained without charge or trial for lengthy periods. There were reports of torture and unfair trials.