Confirmation in appeal of the sentence against Mr. Akzam Turgunov- UZB 002 / 0908 / OBS 153.2

Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the confirmation in appeal of the sentence against Mr. Akzam Turgunov, Executive Director and Founder of "Mazlum" human rights centre, a Tashkent-based human rights organisation that defends the rights of political prisoners of conscience. Mr. Turgunov has also served as a public defender in trials throughout Uzbekistan, including many in Karakalpakstan, in cases involving human rights violations.

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

New information:

According to the information received, on December 11, 2008, the Court of Appeal of Amudarya District, in Karakalpakstan Republic, an autonomous republic in Uzbekistan, 1,100 kilometres west of Tashkent, confirmed the sentencing to ten years of imprisonment of Mr. Akzam Turgunov for "extortion". In the court room, Mr. Turgonov appeared very weak, coughed relentlessly, complained about fever and still bore burns on his back. He should be transferred to a prison at an unknown location.

The Observatory expresses its deep concern about to Mr. Turgunov’s sentencing, as it seems to merely sanction his human rights activities, and which is further evidence that the Uzbek authorities are determined to silence any dissenting voice in the country. It is as such a flagrant violation of the provisions of the United Nations (UN) Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998. The Observatory is also very much concerned by their health condition and urges the Uzbek authorities to release them immediately.

In addition, as a participating State of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Observatory recalls that Uzbekistan acknowledges that "the 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"[1].

Finally, 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.

Background information:

On July 11, 2008, Mr. Akzam Turgunov was arrested by the police in Manget, Karakalpakstan, on suspicion of extortion of money, under circumstances that seemed to have been staged to frame him and sanction him for his human rights activities. Mr. Turgunov was prosecuted pursuant to Article 165, Part 3, of the Uzbek Criminal Code and was facing a prison sentence of up to 15 years.

On September, 4, 2008, the Amudarya District Court, in Nukus, in Karakalpakstan, started the trial of Mr. Turgunov, which resumed on September, 16, 2008.

Furthermore, according to Mr. Turgunov’s public defender, on July 14, 2008, during his detention in the Nukus town police detention centre, he was taken to an investigator’s office and someone poured boiling water down his neck and back, causing severe burns. On July 22, 2008, Mr. Turgunov’s lawyer filed a request to the Prosecutor’s Office to investigate the ill-treatments. On September 16, 2008, the Amudarya District Court admitted the request and ordered a medical expertise.

On October 23, 2008, a court in Manget, Karakalpakstan, sentenced Mr. Turgunov to ten years’ imprisonment for "extortion".

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. Akzam Turgunov;

ii. Ensure that he has access to adequate medical treatment;

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

iv. Conduct a fair and impartial investigation into the above-mentioned allegations of torture and ill-treatment in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the penal, civil and/or administrative sanctions provided by the law;

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

vi. 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";

vii. 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.


· Mr. Islam Abduganiyevich Karimov President of Uzbekistan, ul. Uzbekistanskaya 43, Rezidentsia prezidenta, 700163 Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Fax: +998 71 133 1395325. E-mail:
· Mr. Bahodir Matliubov, Minister of Internal Affairs; ul. Junus Rajabiy 1; Tashkent 700029, Uzbekistan. Fax: + 998 71 233 89 34. Email:,,
· Mr. Rashidjon Hamidovich Kodirov, General Prosecutor of the Republic of Uzbekistan, ul. Gulamova 66, 700047 Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Fax: +998 71 133 39 17. E-mail:
· Mr. Vladimir Norov, Minister of Foreign Affairs, pl. Mustakillik, 5; Tashkent 700029, Uzbekistan. Fax: + 998 71 139 15 17. E-mail:
· Ms. Sayora Rashidova, Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights, ul. Xalqlar Dostligi 1, 700035 Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Fax: +998 71 139 85 55. E-mail:
· 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, E-mail:
· 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:

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.

Geneva - Paris, January 14, 2009

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

[1] 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.

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