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So far, the news about the closure of Jaslyk is only a news that raises questions.
Will 3 August 2019 become the day of an important historical reference point in the development of human rights in Uzbekistan?
President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, issued a decision to close the Jaslyk concentration camp (УЯ 64/71), a modern laboratory of brutal human experiments, that was created by dictator Islam Karimov. Jaslyk has long become a symbol of cruelty of the repressive Karimov regime.
For 17 years, step by step, the international democratic community has been pushing Uzbekistan to comply with the request of the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Theo van Boven, to close down Jaslyk.
Much work remains to be done for implementation of this crucial decision and for this to lead to eradication of the practice of torture in the country.
However, doubts are already cast upon it really happening, because this prison colony, which is located in the village of Jaslyk of Karakalpakstan, is being transformed into another institution belonging to the Main Directorate of Corrections, Pretrial Detention Facility No. 2 under the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Karakalpakstan.
One cannot help but draw a parallel between the decision to reform the National Security Service of Uzbekistan, which in practice turned out to be only an exercise of renaming of the punitive body of the government. As to torture, it continues, as was the case before, within the walls of this prison colony and other institutions of the penitentiary system.
By virtue of the principles of the Constitution, it is incumbent on the President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, as a guarantor of rights and freedoms in the country, to promptly demonstrate to the Uzbek people and the international community his preparedness to achieve the complete liquidation of the Jasylyk prison colony as a guarantee that such crimes will not continue.
The President of Uzbekistan must acknowledge that the practice of torture still exists; he has to create a National Commission to investigate the atrocities committed by law enforcement officers of Uzbekistan and their involvement in torture and murder of prisoners, institute criminal proceedings against them and ensure a public trial.
Only ensuring the inevitability of punishment for crimes against humanity, such as torture, cruel and other degrading treatment, can inspire confidence in this decision and attract responsible and professional people into the law enforcement agencies.
The world history already has such a precedent, when US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, openly admitted on behalf of his country that American soldiers tortured prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison. And indeed, an investigation took place in the United States, the perpetrators were brought to justice and public still has faith in justice.
Is Shavkat Mirziyoyev capable of taking a similar step and consistently leading to complete liquidation of Jaslyk?
It is extremely difficult for the government of Uzbekistan to take such a step as long as Rustam Inoyatov, Zakirjon Almatov and other political criminals of our times retain their presence in power. They must be stripped of their status of immunity, which would be the beginning of the eradication of torture and despotism. Without such a step, real justice will not come about in the country.
Nadejda Atayeva,
President of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, France