free Europe embraces THE Uzbek dictator?
UN head tours troubled ex-Soviet Central Asia
Uzbekistan: UN Body Finds Rights Record Abysmal
Calls for Urgent Steps to Rectify Human Rights Violations
(New York, March 26, 2010) – The Uzbek government should urgently heed the UN Human Rights Committee’s calls to improve its rights record, Human Rights Watch said today.
Uzbekistan’s international partners, including the United States government and European Union member states, should make compliance with the committee’s recommendations a key component of their dialogues with Tashkent, Human Rights Watch said.
“The committee’s findings are damning, and underscore just how pressing the need is for for serious, sustained pressure on the Uzbek government over its abysmal rights record,” said Holly Cartner, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Getting the Uzbek government to take the steps the committee has identified should be a key component of international dialogue with Tashkent.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s trip to Central Asia next week provides a perfect opportunity to convey a strong message to the Uzbek government about human rights reform, Human Rights Watch said.
The Human Rights Committee – a UN monitoring body composed of 18 independent experts – scrutinized Uzbekistan’s rights record earlier this month as part of its periodic review of governments’ compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Uzbekistan has been a party to the Covenant since 1995.
The review, held in New York, took the form of a direct exchange over two days between the committee and a delegation of Uzbek government officials. The committee issued the resulting observations today, at the conclusion of its three-week session.
Government persecution of human rights defenders and journalists, persisting torture and ill-treatment of detainees and the impunity with which it occurs, and the continued lack of accountability for the 2005 massacre of mostly unarmed protesters in the city of Andijan topped the committee’s concerns. It asked the Uzbek government to report back within one year on measures taken to address them.
On government repression of civil society, the committee voiced concern about “the number of representatives of independent NGOs, journalists, and human rights defenders imprisoned, assaulted, harassed or intimidated, because of the exercise of their profession.” It called on the Uzbek government to “guarantee journalists and human rights defenders in Uzbekistan the right to freedom of expression in the conduct of their activities” and to “allow representatives of international organisations and NGOs to enter and work in the country.”
It further urged the Uzbek government to ensure “prompt, effective, and impartial investigation of threats, harassment, and assaults on journalists and human rights defenders,” and asked the government to provide detailed information on all criminal prosecutions in such cases.
On torture and ill-treatment, the committee “note[d] with concern the continued reported occurrence of torture and ill-treatment;” “the use, by courts, of evidence obtained under coercion;” and “the inadequate or insufficient nature of investigations on torture/ill- treatment allegations.” The committee urged the Uzbek authorities to ensure an investigation “by an independent body in each case of alleged torture;” “review all criminal cases based on allegedly forced confessions and use of torture and ill-treatment and verify whether these claims were properly addressed;” and overall “strengthen[ed] measures to put an end to torture and other forms of ill-treatment… so as to avoid impunity.”
The committee also voiced concern about the judiciary’s lack of independence and the fact that the much-hailed habeas corpus (judicial review of detention) reform has not had the desired effect of protecting detainees from abuse. It urged that habeas corpus legislation be “fully applied throughout the country, in compliance with…the Covenant.”
On the Andijan massacre, the Committee expressed “concern at the absence of a comprehensive and fully independent investigation on the exact circumstances of the events during which several hundreds of civilians, including women and children, were killed by the military and security services.” It called on the authorities to “conduct a fully independent investigation and ensure that those responsible for the killings of persons in the Andijan events are prosecuted and, if found guilty, punished, and that victims and their relatives are given full compensation.”
The committee also raised concern about forced child labor, making clear it “remained concerned about reports, according to which children are still employed and subjected to harsh working conditions in particular for cotton harvesting,” and urging the government to “ensure that its national law and international obligations regulating child labour are fully respected in practice.”
The committee’s assessment also highlights a range of other important areas of concern – such as “limitations and restrictions on freedom of religion and belief, including for members of non-registered religious groups” and “persistent reports on charges and imprisonment of such individuals;” and “the number of persons reportedly detained as suspects of involvement in terrorist/extremist activities or on terrorist charges.”
The committee further expressed concern about detainees’ access to lawyer; the effects of a recent relicensing of lawyers, which subjects defense lawyers to undue government control; excessive restrictions on political activism; violence against women; and harassment, attacks and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and criminalization of homosexuality. The assessment details numerous urgent measures the government needs to take to address these concerns.
“The Human Rights Committee has made clear the Uzbek government’s human rights record is simply unacceptable, and set out a road map for reforms,” Cartner said. “Now Uzbekistan’s international partners need to see to it that Tashkent does what it takes, once and for all, to remedy these abuses.”
For more on the Human Rights Committee review of Uzbekistan, please visit:
For more information, please contact:
In New York, Veronika Szente Goldston (French, English, Swedish, Finnish, Hungarian): +1-212-216-1271; or +1-917-582-1271 (mobile)
Is Pentagon in Bed with “Queen of the Uzbeks”?
Should the Pentagon be cutting deals with a company apparently controlled by the powerful daughter of Uzbekistan’s dissident-boiling dictator, Islam Karimov? As previously noted here, Gulnara Karimova has amassed a striking degree of wealth and international fame, with friends who include Bill Clinton and Sting.
Gulnara is widely believed to control Zeromax, which reports annual sales of over $1 billion and is involved in transportation, oil and gas, mining, agriculture and private investment. Last year, Foreign Policy quoted a Central Asian analyst as saying, “Zeromax is essentially one of the facades behind which Gulnara Karimova continues to tighten her grip on any and all available sources of income in the country by any means she deems necessary, with little or no regard for legal niceties.”
FMN Logistics describes itself as “the U.S. small business contracting arm of Zeromax.” Harry Eustace Jr., FMN’s CEO, serves as a board member of the American-Uzbekistan Chamber of Commerce (AUCC), where his father, Harry Eustace Sr. serves as Chairman. Eustace Sr. also is a senior advisor to Zeromax.
“The AUCC promotes trade and investment ties between the United States and Uzbekistan and lobbies against U.S. sanctions on Karimov’s government,” Foreign Policy reported. “Following the 2005 Andijan massacre — in which hundreds of unarmed protesters were mowed down by Uzbek security forces — the organization’s president, James Cornell, wrote to then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urging her to take into account the “special context” of Andijan and “not rush to conclusion or ignore the thorough investigation carried out by the government of Uzbekistan.”
FMN says it is a subcontractor on a deal for “Line Haul Trucking Operations” for the U.S. Army. The contract calls for FMN to move supplies between Tajikistan and the Manas Air Base in Kyrgyzstan, with thirty trucks a month traveling the route and carrying “outsized” equipment on low-bed trailers. FMN also claims to have serviced “every US air base in Afghanistan to date.”
My colleague Spencer Woodman called the Pentagon to ask about the situation. A spokesman declined comment on any arrangements it might have with FMN.
of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan
New York: United Nations 3rd Committee of the General Assembly passes resolution on human rights defenders
S T A T E M E N T
Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan
November 13, 2009 ?.