UZBEKISTAN : Azamjon Formonov sentenced to five additional years in prison

Appel urgent

Paris-Geneva, May 27, 2015 - 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), condemns the sentencing of human rights defender Azamjon Formonov to five additional years of imprisonment. Mr. Formonov has already served ten years in one of the most severe detention facilities in Uzbekistan.

Due to be released earlier this year, former Chairman of the Syrdarya regional branch of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (HRSU), Azamjom Formonov was sentenced to five additional years in prison for alleged systematic violation of prison rules under Article 221 of the Criminal Code. Imprisonment up to five years under the given article is usually applied to particularly dangerous recidivists or persons convicted for particularly serious crimes. The wife of Mr. Formonov was informed about the new sentencing of her husband on May 21, 2015.
The Observatory recalls that Mr. Formonov was arrested in 2006 for his human rights activities and charged with “attempted blackmail”. Mr Formonov, who was tried without the presence of either his attorney of choice or a public defence attorney, was sentenced to nine years in prison where he was subsequently severely beaten and tortured. Mr. Formonov is being arbitrarily detained at the U/Ya 64/71 Special Regime Colony in Jaslyk in the Republic of Karalpak, one of the worst prison in Uzbekistan, labeled as a “death zone” because of its severe climate and extremely tough detention conditions.

" The recurrent practice of accusing human rights defenders of alleged "violations of prison rules" is very alarming and deserves urgent action from the international community ", declared Karim Lahidji, FIDH President.

Extending prison terms under fallacious grounds has already prevented the release of Mr. Zafar Rakhimov and Mr. Nasim Isakov, about whom very little information is available to date.

The Observatory further deplores the continued detention of human rights defenders Messrs. Yuldash Rasulov, Gaybullo Jalilov, Zafar Rakhimov and Nosim Isakov remain arbitrarily detained despite the serious deterioration of their health. All the human rights defenders mentioned above are members of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (HRSU), FIDH member organisation in Uzbekistan, and have been sentenced under fallacious charges of "extortion", "obstructing the constitutional order" or "religious extremism", a charge particularly common in Uzbekistan where the state fiercely controls the religion. In prison, they were subject to torture and ill-treatment, yet their allegations have never been investigated. Torture has been widely recognised as a pervasive and widespread practice in Uzbekistan.

" The Uzbek authorities must immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Azamjon Formonov and all other human rights defenders behind bars, carry out an independent and effective investigation into the allegations of torture and ill-treatment against imprisoned defenders,and stop harassing civil society actors ", concluded Gerald Staberock, OMCT Secretary General.

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