Annual Report: Uzbekistan 2011

Report
May 28, 2011

Annual Report: Uzbekistan 2011

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  • In January 2010, Umida Ahmedova, a prominent Uzbekistani documentary photographer was sentenced to three years in prison for insulting the dignity of Uzbekistani citizens and damaging the country's image on account of photographic and video projects documenting poverty and gender inequality in Uzbekistan. However, the presiding judge gave her an amnesty and she was released from the courtroom. Her continuing appeal against her sentence was rejected in May.
  • In October, courts in Tashkent convicted two independent journalists working for foreign media outlets of criminal defamation and sentenced them to large fines. Vladimir Berezovski, the correspondent of Russian newspaper Parlamentskaia Gazeta, was accused of publishing 16 articles on the independent website Vesti.uz which contained defamatory information intended to mislead the Uzbekistani people and could have created panic. The articles focused on the IMU and labour migration and were not authored by Vladimir Berezovski but re-posted from Russian news agencies. Abdumalik Boboev, the correspondent for the US Congress-funded Voice of America Radio Station was sentenced to a large fine. The court found that his print and radio materials insulted the judiciary and the security forces. His articles and reports covered restrictions on freedom of expression, arbitrary detentions and unfair trials of journalists and human rights defenders. Both journalists had their appeals against their sentences rejected.
  • In December, the authorities conditionally released human rights defender Fakhad Mukhtarov, after he had served 11 months of a five-year sentence for bribery and fraud. At least 11 other human rights defenders continued to be imprisoned. Some had new charges brought against them for allegedly violating prison rules and had their sentences extended by several years following unfair secret trials. At least three further human rights defenders were sentenced to long prison terms in 2010 on allegedly fictitious charges brought to punish them for their work.
  • In January, human rights defender Gaibullo Dzhalilov was sentenced to nine years in prison for attempting to overthrow the constitutional order and membership of a banned religious organization. A member of the unregistered, independent Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan, Gaibullo Dzhalilov had been monitoring the detentions and trials of members or suspected members of Islamic movements banned in Uzbekistan and had raised allegations of torture or other ill-treatment. Gaibullo Dzhalilov claimed that he had been forced under duress to confess to being a member of Hizb-ut-Tahrir. His sentence was upheld on appeal in March. In August, new charges were brought against him based, according to the prosecution, on new eyewitness testimony placing him at religious gatherings during which DVDs with extremist religious content were shown. He was sentenced to an additional four years in prison during a closed hearing at Kashkadaria Regional Criminal Court, even though no prosecution witnesses were called.

Freedom of religion

The government continued its strict control over religious communities, compromising the enjoyment of their right to freedom of religion. Those most affected were members of unregistered groups such as Christian Evangelical congregations and Muslims worshipping in mosques outside state control.