Uzbekistan: Elena Urlaeva arrested, ill-treated and forcibly placed in a psychiatric facility during an ILO visit in Uzbekistan

Urgent Appeal

UZB 001 / 0317 / OBS 022
Arbitrary arrest /
Ill-treatment / Forced placement in a psychiatric facility
March 6, 2016

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Uzbekistan.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary arrest and forced admission into a psychiatric facility of Ms. Elena Urlaeva, Head of the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan, which promotes civil, political and social rights and is known for its monitoring of torture, other grave human rights violations as well as the situation of political prisoners. Ms. Urlaeva is well-known for monitoring cases of forced labour of adults and children in Uzbekistan’s cotton fields. She also organises public demonstrations to call for the respect of the right to freedom of association and assembly.

According to the information received [1], Ms. Elena Urlaeva was arrested in Tashkent on March 1, 2017, in the presence of political scientist Kamoliddin Ziyatov, his wife and the representative of the human rights organisation “Ezgulik” (Solidarity), Mutalib Sharipov. During her arrest, she was beaten and had her clothes torn by the police. She was then taken to the Labzak police station, in the neighbourhood of Tashkent, where she was reportedly humiliated and insulted. Later, on the same day, Ms. Elena Urlaeva was placed in a psychiatric facility and has been held there since.

The reason for her arrest and the existence of potential charges against her remain unknown at the moment of publication of this Urgent Appeal.

Ms. Elena Urlaeva’s arrest and placement in a psychiatric facility took place during an International Labour Organisation (ILO) high-level visit to Uzbekistan that started on February 28, 2017. Ms. Elena Urlaeva was supposed to meet the mission on March 2, 2017. It should be noted that, on the day of her arrest, the ILO signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Uzbekistan for the extension of the country program on decent work in 2017-2020.

The Observatory recalls that since 2001 Uzbek authorities have repeatedly used forced psychiatric placement coupled with harassment and arbitrary arrests against Ms. Elena Urlmaeva as a mean to silence her. She is one of the rare defenders still speaking out against forced labour in Uzbekistan. She was forcibly committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2001, 2002, 2005, 2012, 2015 and 2016.

Recently, on May 31, 2015, Ms. Urlaeva was detained by police officers and subjected to ill-treatment, sexual violence and humiliation to force her to surrender her camera’s memory card containing images of cotton fields monitoring. She was again illegally detained in a psychiatric ward for almost three months without giving any medical reason.

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern regarding the ongoing pattern of harassment targeting Ms. Elena Urlaeva via arrest, ill-treatment, humiliation and pressure aiming at undermining her mental health to prevent her from carrying out her legitimate human rights activities.

The Observatory urges Uzbek authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Ms. Elena Urlaeva from the psychiatric facility and to carry out immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the above mentioned allegations of ill-treatment, torture and arbitrary detention.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Uzbekistan, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Elena Urlaeva as well as all human rights defenders in Uzbekistan;

ii. Release Ms. Elena Urlaeva immediately and unconditionally since her forced confinement in a psychiatric ward is arbitrary and only aims at sanctioning her human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to any form of harassment against Ms. Elena Urlaeva;

iii. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, in particular with its Article 1, 6 and 12.2;

iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Uzbekistan.

Addresses :

· Mr. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of Uzbekistan. Fax: +998 71 133 1395325. E-mail:
· Mr. Azizov Abdusalom Abdumavlanovich, Minister of Internal Affairs. Fax: + 998 71 233 89 34. Email:,
· Mr. Abdulaev Ikhtior Bakhtiorovich, General Prosecutor of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Fax: +998 71 133 39 17. E-mail:
· Mr. Abdulaziz Komilov, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Fax: + 998 71 139 15 17. E-mail:
· Ms. Ulugbek Mukhammadiev, Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights. Fax: +998 71 139 85 55. E-mail:
· Mr. Ulugbek Lapasov, Permanent Mission of Uzbekistan to the United Nations in Geneva. Fax: +41 22 799 43 02. Email:
· H.E. Mr. Vladimir Norov, Ambassador, Embassy of Uzbekistan to Belgium. Fax. +32 2 672 39 46 Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Uzbekistan in your respective countries.


Paris-Geneva, March 6, 2017

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, an FIDH and OMCT partnership, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. FIDH and OMCT are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail:
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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