Ongoing judicial harassment faced by Ms. Umida Ahmedova - UZB 011 / 1209 / OBS 197.1

16/02/2010
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing judicial harassment faced by Ms. Umida Ahmedova, a women human rights defender, photograph and film-maker from Uzbekistan.

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.

According to the information received, on February 10, 2010, Ms. Umida Ahmedova was found guilty by the Mirabad District Court in Tashkent of “slander” and “insult”, under respectively Articles 139 and 140 of the Uzbek Criminal Code, in relation to her book of photographs entitled Women and Men: From Dawn to Dusk, published in 2007 and containing 110 photographs reflecting the life and traditions of Uzbeks, as well as to her documentary film Women and Men in Customs and Rituals and Virginity Code, depicting daily struggles of people in rural Uzbekistan.

After the verdict was announced, the court decided to grant amnesty to Ms. Ahmedova, who could have been sentenced to six months’ imprisonment or up to two years in a labour camp. Ms. Ahmedova intended to appeal the decision, arguing that she did not do anything wrong.

The Observatory welcomes the amnesty in favour of Ms. Umida Ahmedova, and thanks all the persons, institutions and organisations who intervened in her favour. However, the Observatory denounces the judicial harassment she recently suffered, which seems to merely aim at sanctioning her human rights activities.

The Observatory recalls that as a participating State of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Uzbekistan 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”.

The Observatory further urges the European Commission Delegation as well as European Union (EU) Member-States embassies in the Uzbekistan to call upon the Uzbek authorities to comply with the relevant international norms and standards, in particular the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, and take action on the above-mentioned elements, in line with the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders.

Background information:

On December 16, 2009, Ms. Umida Ahmedova was informed by the Mirobod Department of Internal Affairs that she was facing charges of “slander” and “insult” of the Uzbek people. These charges followed an investigation carried out in November 2009 by the Uzbek Agency of Media and Information into several books and films on gender issues that were produced in collaboration with the Gender Programme of the Swiss Embassy in Tashkent.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Uzbek authorities, urging them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Umida Ahmedova;

ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Ms. Umida Ahmedova as well as against all human rights defenders in Uzbekistan and ensure in all circumstances that they be able to carry out their work without unjustified hindrances;

iii. Conform with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” and its Article 12.2, which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and 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”;

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:

* President of Uzbekistan, Mr. Islam Abduganiyevich Karimov, ul. Uzbekistanskaya 43, Rezidentsia prezidenta, 700163 Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan, E-mail: presidents_office@press-service.uz

* Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Vladimir Imamovich Norov, Respublika Uzbekistan; 700029 g. Tashkent; pl. Mustakillik, 5; Ministerstvo inostrannykh del RU, S.S., Uzbekistan, Fax: + 998 71 139 15 17, E-Mail: info@tiv.uz

* Head of the Directorate of Execution of Sentences, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Mr. Abdukarim Shodiev, Ferganskoe shosse, 25, 700005 g. Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan. Fax: +998 71 1916835. Email: mvd@mvd.uz / info@mvd.uz

* Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Sayora Rashidova, ul. Xalqlar Dostligi 1, 700035 Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan, Fax: +998 71 139 85 55

* Chairman of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Mr. Buritosh Mustafaev, Respublika Uzbekistan; 700183 g. Tashkent; ul. Abdulla Kodiri, 1; Verkhovny Sud Respubliki Uzbekistan, Fax: + 998 71 144-62-93

* General Prosecutor of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Mr. Rashidjon Hamidovich Kodirov, ul. Gulyamova 66, 700047 Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan, Fax: +998 71 133 39 17 / 133 73 68

* National Centre for Human Rights, Senator Akmal Saidov, Natsionalny tsentr po pravam cheloveka, 5/3, Mustakillik Maidoni, g. 700029 Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan. Fax: + 998 71 139 13 56 / 45 16

* Permanent Mission of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the United Nations in Geneva, PO Box 1853, 1215 Geneva 15, Switzerland, Fax: +4122 799 43 02, E-mail: uzbekistan@bluewin.ch

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

***

Paris-Geneva, February 16, 2010

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