Speech in pre-sessional meetings on the Universal Periodic Review of Human Rights in Uzbekistan, Geneva 27 March 2013
President of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia
I am addressing you on my own behalf and at the request of many Uzbek human rights defenders who continue to work to protect the victims of human rights violations in our country under the total harassment by the Uzbek authorities.
I want to tell you about the practice of torture in Uzbekistan, the situation in this area is getting worse.
Yes, Uzbekistan ratified the Convention on the Protection against Torture, Article 235 on the prohibition of torture was introduced into its Criminal Code. The reports sent by the Government of Uzbekistan to the executive committees of the United Nations, repeatedly spoke of the need to eradicate the practice of torture. In reality, the Uzbek authorities only provide training for law enforcement officers, organise conferences on the study of the experiences of other countries, indicating the need of additional funding for its penal institutions. Uzbek authorities claim to have conducted 9 criminal cases against the perpetrators of torture. These data are sent to the UN Committee on Human Rights, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and other UN bodies. And this figure remained unchanged for the last three years. And, probably, the data takes account of the same 9 cases. Speaking about the practice of torture, human rights activists say that the situation is getting worse. It is difficult to prosecute the perpetrators because authorities do not want to create the conditions for the investigation of torture.
Courts recognise evidence obtained under torture, despite the decision of the Supreme Court in 2004 on the inadmissibility of evidence obtained by illegal means.
Along with these measures, Uzbekistan created intolerable conditions for independent observers. Those who criticise the government and circulate information on torture become the victims of prosecutions and harassment.
In the past five years more than 200 human rights defenders and independent journalists were persecuted, including 16 people who are in prison, more than half of them are serving sentences under the Article 159 (Attempts to Constitutional Order of Republic of Uzbekistan), all of them have been victims of torture. Hundreds of civil society activists, who openly expressed their opinions, were forced to emigrate; their relatives in Uzbekistan became victims of repression. Their elderly parents are abused by agents of the Interior Ministry and National Security Service, they are forced to give false testimony against their children who received political asylum. As an example, the political refugee Hasan Temirov lives in Sweden. In 2012, seven of his close relatives were detained by the police until the parents agreed to give them his Swedish phone number. In the presence of officer of the National Security Services, his mother was forced to call her son and beg him to return. There are many such cases; they are the cases, the requests for extradition of whom to Uzbekistan were rejected.
The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia - AHRCA, in the last four years, received more than 20 letters from prisoners and more than 150 reports of torture during interrogation and detention. They describe the different methods of torture and the conditions in which they are in. The most common methods of torture are sexual violence, AIDS infection through sexual violence using bludgeon, contracting the tuberculosis through being place with infected prisoners, starvation and punishment with thirst, limiting access to toilets (many can not stand this torture; they are then placed in solitary confinement and subjected to public censure), in the prison Zhaslyk the prisoners are forced to memorise the works of Islam Karimov, and so on. The human rights activist write openly about these types of ill-treatment, but the Uzbek government is not taking any notice of these facts and is busy making official reports on the alleged positive changes in the country.
The government does not explain why, for more than 10 years, the 11 UN special reporter on human rights can not visit Uzbekistan. The Human Rights Watch is expelled from Uzbekistan.
There is only one conclusion: there is no progress on protection of human rights in Uzbekistan.
And, at the end of my address to you, I would like to reiterate the recommendations of the UN Committee on Human Rights to the Government of Uzbekistan. These recommendations are not acted upon and thus remain relevant. The recommendations read:
1) to ensure the investigation by an independent body in relation to each alleged case of torture;
2) to strengthen measures to combat torture and other forms of ill-treatment, to end them, to monitor, investigate as appropriate and bring the perpetrators to justice, to prevent impunity;
3) to pay compensation to the victims of torture and ill-treatment;
4) to provide an audio-visual recording of interrogations in all police stations and detention centers;
5) on suspicion of an abuse, to provide for special medical and psychological examinations in accordance with the Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the Istanbul Protocol);
6) to review all criminal cases based on confessions allegedly obtained through coercive methods and by the use of torture and ill-treatment, to check for appropriate consideration of these allegations in order to prevent impunity.
If you have any further question, am ready to answer them.
Thank you very much for your attention.