CONFIRMATION IN APPEAL OF MR. SALIJON ABDURAHMANOV’S SENTENCE TO TEN YEARS IN PRISON- UZB 001 / 0908 / OBS 151.2

20/11/2008
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources that the sentence against Mr. Salijon Abdurahmanov, a human rights activist and a journalist in Karakalpakstan, an autonomous republic in Uzbekistan, 1,100 kilometres west of Tashkent, was upheld in appeal.

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), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Uzbekistan.


New information:

According to the information received, on November 19, 2008, the Karakalpak Supreme Court’s Appeal Commission confirmed Mr. Abdurahmanov’s sentence to ten years in prison for "selling drugs in large consignment" (Article 25-273, Part 5 of the Uzbek Criminal Code).

According to his lawyer, though Mr. Abdurahmanov provided a great number of proofs of his innocence, the Supreme Court’s Appeal Commission did not take into account a single argument of the defence and decided to uphold the sentence without providing any grounds of its decision. Mr. Abdurahmanov has been held in the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ cells in Nukus since his arrest and should be sent soon to a penal colony.

Mr. Abdurahmanov is particularly known for his critical reporting of the local authorities, including law enforcement officers[1].

The Observatory expresses its deepest concern with this blatantly unfair decision, which stems from fabricated charges, and is further evidence that the Uzbek authorities are determined to silence any dissenting voice in the country.

This decision is all the more worrying that in October the European Union decided to lift the sanctions against Uzbekistan. The Observatory recalls that in accordance with Article 11 of the European Union (EU) Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, the EU missions in Uzbekistan shall urge Uzbek authorities to comply with the relevant international norms and standards and, in particular, the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in order to create an environment where human rights defenders can operate freely. Accordingly, the Observatory calls upon the European Commission Delegation as well as EU missions in Uzbekistan to visit Mr. Abdurahmanov in prison and to report on all breaches of human rights standards.

In addition, as a participating State of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Observatory recalls that Uzbekistan acknowledges that "the [1998] UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders [... places] a responsibility [...] on states to adopt and implement adequate legislation and administrative procedures that would provide for a conducive environment for human rights defenders to promote and strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels", and recognises "the need for particular attention, support and protection for human rights defenders by the OSCE, its Institutions and field operations, as well as by participating States"[2].

Background information:

On June 7, 2008, traffic police stopped Mr. Abdurahmanov’s car, allegedly to check his identity. They found 114.18 g of marijuana and 5.89 g of opium on the underside of his car. Mr. Abdurahmanov has always denied knowing about or having anything to do with the drugs, and asserted that the drugs had been planted in his car to sanction his journalistic and human rights activities.

On September 12, 2008, the hearing started in a little room and only Mr. Salijon Abdurahmanov’s relatives managed to be present. His lawyer said that the Prosecutor failed to provide a single piece of evidence to back up the charges. Two traffic officers, who had stopped Mr. Abdurahmanov’s car on June 7, 2008, testified during the hearing but the two police officers and sniffer dog specialist who had searched his car and found drugs were not present.

On October 10, 2008, Mr. Abdurahmanov was sentenced to ten years in prison by the Nukus Court for "selling drugs in large consignment" (Article 25-273, Part 5 of the Uzbek Criminal Code).

Action requested:

Please write to the Uzbek authorities and ask them to:

i. Take all necessary measures to guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Salijon Abdurahmanov as well as of all human rights defenders in Uzbekistan;

ii. Release immediately and unconditionally Mr. Salijon Abdurahmanov since his detention is arbitrary as it merely aims at sanctioning his human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to any act of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Salijon Abdurahmanov as well as against all human rights defenders in Uzbekistan;

iv. Comply with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular 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";

v. 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 on Human Rights and other international human rights instruments ratified by Uzbekistan.


Addresses:

· Mr. Bahodir Matliubov, Minister of Internal Affairs, Ministerstvo vnutrennikh del RU; ul. Junus Rajabiy 1; Tashkent 700029, Uzbekistan. Fax: + 998 71 233 89 34; Email: mvd@mvd.uz, info@mvd.uz, secretariyat@mvd.uz
· Mr. Alisher Sharafutdinov, Deputy Prosecutor General, Prokuratura Respubliki Uzbekistan; ul. Gulyamova 66; Tashkent 700047, Uzbekistan. Fax: + 998 71 233 39 17/ 133 73 68; Email: prokuratura@lawyer.com
· Mr. Vladimir Norov, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ministerstvo inostrannykh del RU; pl. Mustakillik, 5; Tashkent 700029, Uzbekistan. Fax: + 998 71 139 15 17
· Head of the Nukus City Department of Internal Affairs (police), Glave GOVD, Gorodskoi Otdel Vnutrennikh Del, ul. Biruni, g. Nukus, AR Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan.
· H.E Ms. Goulnora Karimova, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, Permanent Mission of Uzbekistan to the United Nations in Geneva, International Centre Cointrin (ICC), Bloc G (7th Floor), Route de Pré-Bois 20, 1215 Geneva 15, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 799 43 02. Email: uzbekistan@bluewin.ch
· H.E. Ms. Goulnora Karimova, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the United Nations Office and other International Organisations in Geneva, International Centre Cointrin (ICC), Bloc G (7th Floor), Route de Pré-Bois 20, 1215 Geneva 15, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 799 43 02. Email: uzbekistan@bluewin.ch

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

***
Paris - Geneva, November 20, 2008

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

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Tel and fax FIDH: +33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / 33 (0) 1 43 55 18 80
Tel and fax OMCT: + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 (0) 22 809 49 29
Email: Appeals@fidh-omct.org

[1] Shortly before his arrest, Mr. Abdurahmanov wrote a very critical article about traffic police in Karakalpakstan. Mr. Abdurahmanov is an outspoken journalist who has written on sensitive issues such as social and economic justice, human rights, corruption, and the legal status of Karakalpakstan in Uzbekistan. He worked closely with UzNews, an independent online news agency, and also freelanced for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Voice of America and the Institute for War and Peace Reporting.
[2] See OP 6 & OP 8 of the Resolution on Strengthening OSCE Engagement with Human Rights Defenders and National Human Rights Institutions, adopted by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly on July 10, 2007.

Read more
appelobs