Uzbekistan: Sentencing in absentia of Ms. Nadejda Atayeva

16/08/2013
Urgent Appeal
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The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the sentencing in absentia of Ms. Nadejda Atayeva, a human rights defender from Uzbekistan, currently the President of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia living in France. Her father, Mr. Alim Atayev, and her brother, Mr. Karhamon Atayev, have likewise been sentenced. They all left Uzbekistan in 2000 and arrived in France in 2002, where they were granted political asylum.

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

Description of the situation:

According to the information received, on July 24, 2013, Judge Bahram Tashpulatov of the Tashkent City Court sentenced Ms. Nadejda Atayeva, Mr. Alim Atayev and Mr. Karhamon Atayev to respectively six, nine and seven years of penal colony. Ms. Atayeva was found guilty of violation of three articles of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan: "larceny by way of embezzlement of property" (Article 167), "forgery in office for the benefit of an organised group" (Article 209) and "legalisation of revenue from criminal activities" (Article 243). The charges were linked to her father’s position as the head of the corporation ’Uzlehleboprodukt’; they were brought after Mr. Alim Atayev refused to cooperate with the regime on the falsification of statistics related to grain production in Uzbekistan. The criminal process started on April 7, 2000 and was preceded by harassment and threats, which was the reason why the family fled Uzbekistan.

The July 24, 2013 verdict was pronounced without the knowledge or presence of Ms. Atayeva and her family. Their representatives were not informed either. Ms. Atayeva found out about the trial by chance on July 22, 2013. She hired a lawyer, Mr. Tulkin Arifzhanov, who met the Judge on July 25, 2013 in order to obtain a copy of the verdict, which was made available to him only on August 1, 2013. On that day it also transpired that each of the convicts had been assigned a State lawyer who had received the verdict already on July 24, 2013.

Ms. Atayeva and her family do not know the State lawyers and have no contact with them. Nevertheless, they were given 10 days counting from July 24, 2013, until August 5, 2013, to appeal the verdict. As the verdict, covering 45 pages, was in Uzbek, a language that Ms. Atayeva does not speak, she had to have it translated into her native language, Russian. The verdict further stated that should Ms. Atayeva wish to appeal the decision, she must do it in person in Uzbekistan. In spite of these circumstances, Ms. Atayeva managed to prepare an appeal of the verdict and submit it to the court through her lawyer on August 5, 2013. In the appeal she categorically denies the charges made against her and calls for an independent judicial system in Uzbekistan, for the end of fabricated charges and for the end of torture during investigations and in penitentiary institutions. Although the court did not accept the appeal, Ms. Atayeva nevertheless sent it on August 5, 2013, by registered post. She is now waiting for an answer.

The Observatory denounces the in absentia trial and verdict pronounced against Ms. Atayeva and her family and the ensuing steps taken to de facto prevent her from appealing the decision, which are flagrant violations to the right to a fair trial and defence, as guaranteed under international law, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), as well as Uzbekistan’s own Constitution. The Observatory considers it to be an act of harassment of Ms. Atayeva aimed at punishing and delegitimising her work on human rights over the past years.

Actions requested:

Please write to the Uzbek authorities, urging them to :

i. Take all necessary measures to guarantee that Ms. Atayeva’s appeal is duly reviewed in a transparent trial that meets international standards;

ii. Put an end to any act of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Ms. Atayeva and her family and more generally of all human rights defenders in and from Uzbekistan;

iii. Comply with the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 10, 1948, in particular its Article 10, which states that “everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him”;

iv. Comply with the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, in particular its Article 14.3, which states that “In the determination of any criminal charge against him, everyone shall be entitled to the following minimum guarantees, in full equality: (a) To be informed promptly and in detail in a language which he understands of the nature and cause of the charge against him (b) To have adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence and to communicate with counsel of his own choosing; (d) To be tried in his presence, and to defend himself in person or through legal assistance of his own choosing; to be informed, if he does not have legal assistance, of this right; and to have legal assistance assigned to him, in any case where the interests of justice so require, and without payment by him in any such case if he does not have sufficient means to pay for it;

v. Comply with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually or collectively, to promote the protection and fulfilment of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, as well as Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually or in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”;

vi. Comply with the provisions of the Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the 2nd Conference on the Human Dimension of the Cooperation and Security Conference in Europe (CSCE) (1990), and guarantee the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments ratified by Uzbekistan.

Addresses:

• Mr. Islam Abduganiyevich Karimov President of Uzbekistan, ul. Uzbekistanskaya 43, Rezidentsia prezidenta, 700163 Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Fax: +998 71 133 139 53 25. E-mail: presidents_office@press-service.uz
• Mr. Bahodir Matliubov, Minister of Internal Affairs; ul. Junus Rajabiy 1; Tashkent 700029, Uzbekistan. Fax: + 998 71 233 89 34. Email: mvd@mvd.uz, info@mvd.uz
• Mr. Rashidjon Hamidovich Kodirov, General Prosecutor of the Republic of Uzbekistan, ul. Gulamova 66, 700047 Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Fax: +998 71 133 39 17 / 133 73 68.
• Mr. Vladimir Norov, Minister of Foreign Affairs, pl. Mustakillik, 5; Tashkent 700029, Uzbekistan. Fax: + 998 71 139 15 17. E-mail: rnews@mfa.uz
• Ms. Sayora Rashidova, Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights, Prospekt Uzbekistan 16a, 700027 Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Tel: (+ 998 71) 239 81 36, Fax (+998 71) 239 81 36. E-mail: info@ombudsman.uz
• Senator Akmal Saidov, Natsionalny Tsentr po pravam cheloveka / National Centre for Human Rights, Mustakillik Maidoni 5/3, 700029 Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan. Fax: + 998 71 139 13 56 / 45 16

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Uzbekistan in your respective countries as well as to the EU diplomatic missions or embassies in Uzbekistan.

***
Paris-Geneva, August 16, 2013

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

The Observatory, an OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

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

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