No transparency, no fairness, no freedom : elections in Uzbekistan will be a masquerade

Urgent Appeal
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On March 29, the Presidential elections will take place in Uzbekistan for the fourth time since country’s independence. FIDH expresses its deepest concern about the lack of transparency, fairness and freedom in the up-coming elections.

All previous votes in 1991, 2000, and 2007 were marked by a landslide victory of the incumbent President Islam Karimov. There is absolutely no doubt that Islam Karimov will be elected once again, despite the fact that his candidacy violates the constitution, which limits the president’s term to two mandates. None of the three candidates competing with Karimov pose a serious challenge and no independent candidate was registered for the race. FIDH calls the Uzbek authorities to uphold their human rights commitments and refrain from silencing opposition movements.


This Sunday in Uzbekistan, President Islam Karimov will be reelected for his fourth consecutive term. In this little known country, thousands of political prisoners are arbitrarily detained, yet the public remains entirely indifferent. To denounce this state of affairs, FIDH created operation #WhoCares? The goal is to incite web users to take action for the liberation of the five human rights defenders presented on the website #ForFreedom.

Uzbekistan must stop systematic threats, harassment and intimidation of civil society organisations declared Karim Lahidji, FIDH president. The authorities are bound to guarantee respect for good governance and the rule of law, as well as a number of fundamental human rights including the holding of free and fair elections and the diversity of the political landscape.”

The impossibility for independent voices to form political parties and the restrictions on electoral registration infringe political and civil rights in Uzbekistan. In contradiction with the international standards of free and fair elections, Uzbek legislation prevents registration of independent politicians. Only officially registered political parties are entitled to present presidential candidates. Anxious about the lack of transparency of the electoral campaign, civil society activists, including the human rights organization the Club of Fiery Hearts, created a virtual electoral commission aiming to hold alternative free and fair elections. However, the website of the commission was forced to shut down after a vicious hacking attack that once again demonstrated the extent of the repression of Uzbek civil society. Uzbekistan should respect its international obligations as stated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

FIDH is deeply concerned about the massive abuse and human rights violations taking place in the country. The regime’s fierce grip on society eliminates any critical voices that could expose the country’s violations of human rights: forced labour and continued child slavery in cotton fields, forced sterilization of women, absence of independent media and political participation, arbitrary detentions, and torture. The country, which has been ruled by Mr. Karimov for a quarter of a century, has thousands of political prisoners. HRC « Memorial », a leading Russian human rights organisation, puts the figure at 10 000, while Uzbek human rights organisations report more than 12 000 people detained on politically motivated charges. The exact number is hard to establish and information about detentions is scarce as State repression makes it impossible for human rights organisations to carry out monitoring activities. Reports of their torture and inhuman treatment cannot investigated.

In February 2015, more than 50 000 prisoners were released in the framework of the amnesty adopted at the end of 2014. However, this amnesty was applied only to persons allegedly condemned for crimes considered “not dangerous to society,” which excluded political prisoners and regime critics. Moreover, a number of human rights defenders are being kept in detention even after their sentence has been served, as in the cases of Nasim Isakov and Zafar Rakhimov. Both activists of the Human Rights Society in Uzbekistan were imprisoned on fabricated charges while their trials were marred by due process violations and reports of torture and mistreatment. FIDH recalls that very little or nothing is known of the situation of these political prisoners, including the state of their health, their detention conditions and their release.

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