UN Anti-Torture Experts Rebuke Uzbekistan for Its Abysmal Record

13/12/2013
Press release
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In an unusually scathing report that is in line with FIDH’s own findings, the United Nations’ main anti-torture body expressed its utmost concerns over the widespread and systematic use of torture in Uzbekistan. The UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) called for prompt, impartial and effective investigations into all allegations of torture and ill-treatment. This follows an exceptionally heated CAT session, during which the head of the Uzbek delegation shouted at UN experts and accused them of “political bias”. In the face of numerous, well-documented allegations that torture is not only systematic and unpunished, but also encouraged by the authorities, Uzbekistan chose to make a mockery of its international obligations.

FIDH particularly welcomes the fact that the “concluding observations” published by the CAT highlight the practice of forced sterilisation of women and sexual violence against prisoners in Uzbekistan. The CAT specifically pointed to the case of Ms. Mutabar Tadjibayeva, the President of FIDH’s member organisation, the international human rights association “Fiery Hearts Club”, who is now living in exile in France. Ms. Tadjibayeva lodged a complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee for being tortured and forcibly sterilised while imprisoned in Uzbekistan in 2005-2008.

“Mutabar Tadjibayeva is an incredibly strong woman and human rights defender who had the courage to bear witness to the unspeakable acts of torture she went through in Uzbekistan”, said Ms. Tolekan Ismailova, FIDH Vice-President. “In Geneva, Uzbekistan delegates openly lied about Ms. Tadjibaeyva’s health in order to discredit her and her work. The authorities of Uzbekistan should investigate her case, prosecute and punish those responsible, and provide her with the reparation to which she is entitled. Instead, they continue to psychologically harass her”, she added.

“It is deplorable that the Uzbek government unashamedly keeps denying torture and in return accuses the UN of bias,” said Karim Lahidji, FIDH President. “The Uzbek authorities must start abiding by their own international obligations, which they are currently not doing, not even to a minimal degree.”

On 29 October 2013, during the session in which Uzbekistan was reviewed by the CAT, Mr. Akmal Saidov, the head of the Uzbek delegation, claimed that Ms. Tadjibayeva was never tortured and that she explicitly asked for medical help, which was provided through sterilisation. The CAT is in charge of monitoring implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Torture by its Party States. Uzbekistan submitted its fourth periodic report this year, which was reviewed on 29-30 October 2013. The CAT adopted its concluding observations on 14 November 2013, which contain a number of recommendations. In September 2013, prior to the review, the Uzbek Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law (UBHRRL), with the support of FIDH, published its report on "Uzbekistan’s Implementation of the CAT".

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