Annual Report: Uzbekistan 2013

May 29, 2013

Annual Report: Uzbekistan 2013

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Republic of Uzbekistan

Head of state Islam Karimov

Head of government Shavkat Mirzioiev

Freedom of expression was curtailed as human rights defenders and journalists continued to be harassed, beaten, prosecuted and detained. Two human rights defenders were released early from prison on humanitarian grounds, but at least 10 others remained in prison, some in cruel, inhuman and degrading conditions. Concerns remained over the frequent use of torture and other ill-treatment to extract confessions, in particular from those suspected of links with banned religious groups.

Freedom of expression

Human rights defenders and journalists continued to face harassment and pressure from the authorities. They were routinely monitored by uniformed and plain-clothes security officers, summoned for questioning, placed under house arrest or prevented from taking part in peaceful demonstrations or from meeting with foreign diplomats. Several reported being beaten by law enforcement officers or by people suspected of working for the security services to prevent them from publicizing human rights violations or criticizing the authorities.

  • Prisoners of conscience and human rights defenders, Alisher Karamatov and Khabibulla Akpulatov, were freed in April and July after serving prison sentences of almost six and seven years respectively, on charges of “libel” and “extortion” after unfair trials in 2005 and 2006.
  • In May, the head of the Kashkadaria branch of the independent Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan, Gulshan Karaeva, was attacked by two women in a shop in the town of Karshi and her home was sprayed with graffiti, after she publicized her refusal of an offer by the National Security Service (SNB) to act as an informant. On 27 September, she was detained at the local police station where she was told she faced charges of “slander” and “insult”, from the two women who had attacked her in May. The charges carried a sentence of up to four years' imprisonment. However, on 13 December she received a presidential amnesty and criminal proceedings were stopped. Family members and colleagues of Gulshan Karaeva also faced harassment, insults and physical assaults. In July, her brother and sister-in-law were assaulted by two neighbours, who beat them and their nine-year-old daughter. The neighbours said that they were related to enemies of the people (referring to Gulshan Karaeva and her older brother Tulkin Karaev, a political refugee in Sweden). In August, Gulshan Karaeva's brother and sister-in-law were summoned to their local police station and threatened with criminal charges in relation to the assault.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees and prisoners by security forces and prison personnel continued to be routine. Scores of reports of torture and other ill-treatment emerged during the year, especially from men and women suspected or convicted of belonging to Islamic movements and Islamist groups and parties or other religious groups, banned in Uzbekistan. As in previous years, the authorities failed to conduct prompt, thorough, and impartial investigations into such reports and into complaints lodged with the Prosecutor General's Office.