Latest Update: 31 March 2013
During the last quarter we learned that a rolling prisoner amnesty took place under a law adopted by the Uzbek Senate in December 2012. The amnesty was reportedly applied to over 19,000 citizens. Of these, 2,095 people were reported to have been discharged from prison sentences. It is disappointing to note that just one human rights defender, Gulnoza Yuldasheva, appears to have been among those released. We remain concerned about several cases of journalists and human rights defenders in prison, including Akzam Turgunov, Azamjon Formonov and Dilmurod Saidov, where acute human rights concerns have been reported. In addition, reports of ill-health continue to surface in the case of Murad Juraev, an Erk party member and former member of the Supreme Council of Uzbekistan, who in December 2012 saw his prison term extended for the fifth time, for a further three years.
Mamadali Makhmudov, an Uzbek writer and activist, was informed on 5 March that he would face a new prison term of up to five years based on Article 221 of the criminal code (breaking prison rules). Mr Makhmudov, who suffers from tuberculosis, was due to be released in March following 14 years in prison on charges which he denies of attempting to overthrow the Uzbek constitution. Mr Makhmudov’s relatives say that they have not been permitted to visit him in prison since 14 November 2012. The Embassy will monitor this latest case against Mr Makhmudov closely and urges the Uzbek authorities to take all necessary steps to guarantee him the right to a fair trial.
Human rights defenders Saida Kurbanova (Chair of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan) and Nuriniso Kholbaeva, based in Jizzakh region, reported continued harassment from the security services and pressure on their activities in the first three months of 2012. Both alleged torture following their sentencing to 15 days’ detention in December 2012. Uktam Padaev, who served 15 days in prison in October 2012, and is also based in Jizzakh, alleged in February that he was under round-the-clock surveillance from plain clothed police officers and was concerned for his and his family’s safety.
In February Mutabar Tajibaeva, a human rights defender from Uzbekistan based in Paris, filed a complaint against Uzbekistan with the UN Human Rights Committee. Ms Tajibaeva alleges that during her two years and eight months’ imprisonment in Uzbekistan she was tortured and forcibly sterilised. Ms Tajibaeva is asking the Committee to order Uzbekistan to investigate her allegations and punish those responsible. She is also requesting her full medical records, to which she claims she does not currently have access.
We continue to have serious concerns about the incarceration of Said Ashurov, Chief Metallurgist at the Uzbek-British joint venture Amantaytau Goldfields, who was sentenced in August 2011 on espionage charges to 12 years in prison. As reported previously, we continue to urge the Uzbek authorities to consider Mr. Ashurov’s release at the earliest opportunity, particularly in light of reports of his ill health.
Article 19, a religious freedom organisation, reported in February that practising Christian Sharofat Allamova, from Urgench in Uzbekistan, was facing criminal prosecution and a jail sentence of up to three years under Article 244 of the Criminal Code for allegedly illegally storing religious literature.