Amnesty International Letter to President Trump regarding Human Rights in Uzbekistan

The United States should include human rights issues in all discussions between U.S. and Uzbekistani government officials, including the May 16, 2018 meeting between President Donald Trump and President Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Amnesty International USA’s executive director, Margaret Huang, calls on President Trump to use the meeting to urge his Uzbekistani counterpart to broaden and deepen human rights reforms.

Letter Below:


 

May 11, 2018

President Donald J. Trump
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Re: Amnesty International urges President Trump to raise human rights concerns in meeting with Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on May 16, 2018

Dear President Trump:

We urge you to encourage Uzbekistani President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to continue and deepen his country’s human rights reforms during your upcoming meeting on May 16, 2018.

For decades, the Government of Uzbekistan has had one of the world’s worst human rights records. The U.S. Department of State lists Uzbekistan as among the world’s worst violators of international religious freedoms and among the countries doing least to prevent human trafficking.

Amnesty International has previously documented how officials extracted confessions through torture, jailed human rights activists without due process, and unlawfully surveilled citizens at home and abroad. Uzbekistani law criminalizes consensual sex among men and authorities actively curtail freedom of expression by arbitrarily arresting, imprisoning, and torturing their critics. According to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, Uzbekistani authorities have used anti-terrorism legislation to harass and detain Muslims peacefully practicing their religion. The report details how members of Protestant Christian denominations have also faced raids on their places of worship and confiscation of their religious materials.

Since coming to power in 2016, President Mirziyoyev has introduced a number of wide-ranging political and economic reform proposals, designed to end past isolationist and repressive policies. Amnesty International has applauded the government’s decision to issue a November 2017 decree prohibiting the torture of suspects or their relatives, and to ease some undue restrictions on the right to freedom of expression. The government’s release of multiple imprisoned human rights defenders, journalists, and activists, including last week’s release of Bobomurod Abdullayev, has been welcomed by Amnesty.

These reforms undoubtedly represent progress towards bringing Uzbekistan’s policies in line with international law and international norms. Nonetheless, President Mirziyoyev must do more to protect Uzbekistanis’ human rights. Amnesty International has recommended a number of human rights reforms, including:

(1) Guaranteeing freedom of movement: Human rights defenders, journalists, and former prisoners face arbitrary restrictions on their freedom of movement. Amnesty International is particularly concerned that former prisoners have been prevented from travelling abroad for urgent medical treatment. The government of Uzbekistan should immediately lift these arbitrary travel restrictions.

(2) Implementing prohibitions against torture: To implement the recent decree
proscribing torture, President Mirziyoyev should urge all senior government
officials to publicly condemn the practice. Furthermore, the government must
investigate all outstanding reports of assault and harassment of human rights
defenders, journalists, and civil society activists and release those still in
detention.

(3) Protecting freedom of religion: Amnesty International calls on the government
of Uzbekistan to cease the detention and torture of peaceful worshippers and
ensure that those accused of membership of “extremist” groups are afforded
due process, including the investigation of credible allegations of torture.

(4) Protecting the rights of LGBTI people: Under Article 120 of the Criminal Code
consensual sexual relations between men is a crime punishable by a fine or a
prison term of up to three years. The government of Uzbekistan should enact
legislation to abolish Article 120.

Your meeting with President Mirziyoyev will be a critical opportunity for you to
encourage Uzbekistan to implement human rights reforms that are long overdue and
much needed.

Thank you for your consideration, and please do not hesitate to contact Daniel Balson,
Eurasia advocacy director, at (202) 509-8132 or [email protected] for more
information.

Sincerely,

Margaret Huang
Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

Daniel Balson
Advocacy Director– Europe and Central Asia
Amnesty International USA

CC: Mr. John Bolton, National Security Advisor of the United States
CC: Secretary Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State

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