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Statement on the extradition of 29 asylum seekers

Herewith we express our resentment in conjunction with non-fulfillment by Kazakhstan of its obligations under international agreements.

On 9 June 2011 Kazakhstan extradited 29 asylum seekers to Uzbekistan. According to Tashkenbay Aubakirov, the prosecution officer of the city of Almaty, at 15:00 local time 29 inmates were dispatched from the investigative isolation ward of the National Security Committee of Kazakhstan and Almaty Committee of the criminal-penal system of the Ministry of Justice of Kazakhstan. Later Mr. Aubakirov stated that they were handed over to Uzbekistan as all defense remedies in Kazakhstan had been exhausted. However, as far back as December 2010 UN Special Rapporteur on Complaints and Interim Measures called on the Government of Kazakhstan to abstain from deportation of these asylum seekers due to the fact that the UN Committee Against Torture is in consideration of their individual complaints. Kazakhstan as a state-party to the UN Convention Against Torture did not take into account this circumstance.  

All extradited persons were in custody since 9 June 2010 in the city of Almaty. That day migration police, criminal investigation bodies and National Security of Kazakhstan conducted a regular operation “Migrant” aimed at the detection of persons staying in the country on an illegal basis. However, all of these 29 inmates had a legal status in Almaty. Later on it was ascertained that a request was received from Uzbekistan concerning their extradition based on the Chisinau Convention on legal assistance on civil, family and criminal cases.

Uzbekistan put forward charges against the arrested asylum seekers of grave crimes including their complicity with terrorist activity. Association “Human Rights in Central Asia” possesses information that charges against many of them are based on testimonies of other inmates extracted under duress and torture. Among the prisoners who testified under torture are 10 refugees unlawfully extradited in November 2005 from Southern Kazakhstan. They had been subsequently sentenced to long prison terms. 

New migration rules introduced in Kazakhstan in March 2010 caused the review of the UNHCR Office decision on persons, who were earlier on recognized as refugees. Over the past period a certain pattern has been formed whereby UNHCR Office denies protection to applicants announced as wanted by the country of origin. This process affected some 200 nationals of Uzbekistan who had been under the UNHCR protection. Many of them were awaiting transfer to third countries. Since May 2010 the Representation of the UNHCR in Almaty has committed unprecedented and unjustified concessions to the government of Kazakhstan. In the meantime UNHCR was expected to display resolve and persistence in protection of persons persecuted upon political and religious grounds. 

The joint statement of the Migration Committee under the Ministry of Labour of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Office of High Commissioner on Refugees clearly reflects the relationship established between the Office of the UNHCR and government officials. The document contains sweeping and non-founded accusations against the asylum seekers, such as “Among them are persons charged with murder and armed attacks against law enforcement officers and representatives of the official clergy in Uzbekistan”. With such references against asylum seekers UNHCR breeds distrust of those whom it should help under its terms of reference.

Association “Human Rights in Central Asia” is seriously concerned about the incapacity of the UNHCR Office, which leads to forced deportation of the Uzbekistan nationals to the country of origin. We call on all concerned parties to stop the unlawful practice of submission of refugees to the countries where they are subjected to prosecution upon fabricated charges and imminent threat of torture and death. 

Источник: Ассоциация "Права человека в Центральной Азии"
16, rue de Docteur Leroy, 72000 Le Mans France;

Uzbekistan: the life of a prisoner under threat!

In the colony No. 64/51 in the town of Karshi, Kashkadarya province, a prisoner Komiljon Rasulov is in grave condition. Witnesses reported that prison wardens split soles of his feet with repeated truncheon blows.   Several times he was forced under threat of death to descend into the toilet pitch, which is located in the courtyard of the prison (the sewage system inside the building has not been functioning for a while). He can hardly move due to excruciating pain. Such was the punishment for reading Namaz (a Muslim prayer).

Background information:
Rasulov Komiljon Khakimovich, born 7 October 1971. Citizen of Uzbekistan, born in the city of Tashkent, married, with two children. According to law enforcement organs, he is a member of “Hizb-ut-Tahrir” He was arrested on 4 March 2001 and sentenced by Tashkent city court under Article 159 Criminal Code (CC) of the Republic of Uzbekistan (RUz) Part 3 Section B (encroachment against constitutional order committed by organized group) and Part 1 Article 244-2 CC RUz (creation, leadership, participation in religious extremist, separatist, fundamentalist or other banned organizations); sentenced to 18 years in jail; serves his term in the strict regime colony 64/51.

Komiljon Rasulov’s case demands urgent intervention by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and by the International Red Cross.

According to the witnesses who approached our organization, the inmate Rasulov is being tortured in order to be driven to suicide. Lately such practice has become widespread in the penitentiary system of Uzbekistan. 

Association “Human Rights in Central Asia” addresses itself to all parties concerned, all organizations and mass media with a pressing request to turn their attention to Komiljon Rasulov’s case and to send statements to the authorities of Uzbekistan at the addresses provided below:
  • President of Uzbekistan, Islam Abduganiyevich Karimov, ul. Uzbekistanskaya 43, Rezidentsia prezidenta, 700163 Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan, Fax: +998 71 139 53 25, E-mail: presidents_office@press-service.uz;
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic Uzbekistan Elyor Majidovich pl. Mustakillik 5; 700029 Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan, Fax: +998 71 139 15 17, E-mail: rnews@mfa.uz
  • Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights, Sayora Rashidova, ul. Xalqlar Dostligi 1, 700035 Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan, and Fax: +998 71 139 85 55, E-mail: office@ombudsman.gov.uz
  • General Prosecutor of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Rashidjon Hamidovich Kodirov, ul. Gulyamova 66, 700047 Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan, Fax: +998 71 133 39 17, E-mail: prokuratura@lawyer.com
  • National Centre for Human Rights, Senator Akmal Saidov Natsionalny, Tsentr po pravam cheloveka, Mustakillik Maidoni 5/3, 700029 Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan, Fax: +998 71 139 13 56 / 45 16, E-mail: office@nchr.uz
  • Ambassador of the Republic of Uzbekistan, 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

Источник: Ассоциация "Права человека в Центральной Азии"
16, rue de Docteur Leroy, 72000 Le Mans France;


Kazakhstan: inactivity of the authorities pushes oil industry workers to suicide!

Association Droits de l’Homme en Asie Centrale
Centre MBE 140, 16, rue de Docteur Leroy, 72000 Le Mans FRANCE
Tel.: +(33) 6 49 38 86 59;E-Mail: asiecentrale@neuf.fr

3-go Maja 18/4, 20-078 Lublin POLAND 
Tel. +(48) 507 739 025, E-mail: lyudmylakozlovska@odfoundation.eu  


On the 1st of June, the convoy commander of the “Karazhanbasmunay JSC”  enterprise Sabit Kenzhebaev died of a heart attack. Strong attempts were made to force him to dismiss the striking workers whose demands he supported. The leader of oil industry workers of the “Karazhanbas” deposit, Kuanysh Sisenbaev, was admitted with  knife wounds to hospital on the 5th of June, where earlier two other workers of this enterprise had been admitted for treatment. All three were driven to despair and cut themselves in order to draw the attention of the employers and local authorities to infringement of basic principles and rights in the labour sphere.
Since the 11th of May, 2011, the workers of “OzenMunayGaz”, “Karazhanbasmunay”, and a part of the Italian ENI holding “The Ersay Caspian Contractor LLC” have continued their termless protest action. It is an answer to the inactivity of the foreign owners of oil deposits, employers and local authorities. 

Sabit Kenzhebaev’s death has shaken the participants of the protest action, as his death was a result of an acute conflict with the enterprise management.  Strong pressure was put on him to force him to dismiss the striking workers whose demands he supported, although he himself did not participate in the strike. The leader of industry workers of the “Karazhanbas” deposit, Kuanysh Sisenbaev, was admitted with knife wounds to hospital on the 5th of June, where earlier two other workers of this enterprise had been admitted for treatment. All three were driven to despair and cut themselves; they became new victims.

Putting their lives, safety and health at stake, approx. 12,000 oil industry workers of the Mangistausky area (Western Kazakhstan) have continued to defend their right to decent work.  
          They demand the following:
to allow operation of the independent labour union “Karakiyak”;
to revise the collective agreement so that the interests and rights of workers would be considered on the basis of the principle of equality of the parties;
to increase wages by 100%, as the present wages do not provide the minimum subsistence level;
to determine payment and to revise working conditions according to the International Labour Standards.
The authorities of Kazakhstan have answered to these requirements with threats and dispersal of striking workers. At the beginning of the protest action, 37 workers and lawyer Natalia Sokolova of the public association called “Workers Trade Union of Karazhanbasa” were arrested. She has been accused of “incitement of social hatred”. On the 6th of June, all the arrested persons were released, except for Sokolova who still remains in custody.
      In their decision on the 27th of May, 2011, the Zhanaozensky city court recognized the strike as illegal, and the company administration declared that the “law enforcement bodies” will deal with the workers.
       Mass lay-offs in the oil sector enterprises have begun. As soon as the administration learns the names of the workers who joined the protest action, they are thrown idle. According to independent observers, at night workers are attacked by gangsters and suffer serious physical injuries. The gangsters openly declare that they are hired by the owners of the enterprises. 
     For now, the government ignores the demands of numerous participants of the action. The guarantor of rights and freedom in Kazakhstan – the president Nursultan Nazarbayev – does not refer to the situation with any statements.  
     During recent years, Kazakhstan has tried to involve foreign investments and to develop the enterprises with foreign capital, and still, the issues of working conditions are being ignored. In such enterprises, for work of equal value, the national personnel are paid essentially less than foreign workers. Exploitation of Kazakh workers in heavy works has become one of the principal reasons for the protest action organized by oil industry workers.  
     Kazakhstan does not guarantee human rights in the labour sphere, though it is obliged to satisfy the conditions of 19 conventions of the International Labour Organization, including the basic ones:
– Convention No. 81 of 1947, “On labour inspection”, according to which the state represented by the national labour inspection is obliged to undertake measures in case of infringement of human rights in the labour sphere;
– Convention No. 87 of 1948, “On freedom of association and protection of the right to organize”, according to which the state is obliged to allow the establishment and to recognize the workers’ labour unions which are founded with the aim to protect their legal interests;
– Convention No. 98 of 1949, “On the right to organize and to bargain collectively”, according to which employers should bargain with the representatives of the workers, and the state should be a guarantor of the consultative process; 
– Convention No. 111 of 1958, “On Discrimination (Employment and Occupation)”, which bans discrimination in the form of any distinction, exclusion or preference made on the basis of race, colour, sex, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin, which has the effect of nullifying or impairing equality of opportunity or treatment in employment or occupation. 
Also, the following articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights are being infringed: Article 19 (on the right to freely express opinion), Article 21 (on freedom of peaceful assemblies) and Article 22 (on freedom оf association).

The authorities of Kazakhstan do not allow the independent labour unions to develop. It has become the reason for the riots among workers and the increase in social tensions. A failure to recognize the labour unions by the state and the workers’ riots are by no means the first case of this kind in Kazakhstan. Independent labour unions have repeatedly requested the representative of the International Labour Organization in Kazakhstan to support their recognition by the state. Still, their requests bring no results. Only the competent commission of the ILO can help resolve the problem and prevent the increase of social tensions in the society.

The Association “Human Rights in Central Asia” and the Public Foundation «Open Dialog» hereby urge the government of Kazakhstan to begin the dialogue with striking oil industry workers in compliance with the principles of human rights and freedom.

We strongly request that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the European Union, the International Labour Organization, international human rights organizations, all interested persons and the mass media address the government of Kazakhstan, urging them to fulfil their obligations with regard to protection of human rights in the labour sphere as well as fundamental human rights and freedom.

Below are the addresses to which the statements may be directed:
To the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. The head of Presidential Administration, Mr Musin Aslan Espulaevich; the address: 010000, Kazakhstan, the city of Astana, left bank of Ishim river, the “Acorda”  building;  tel.: +7 (7172) 74 55 24, +7 (7172) 74 56 67;
National Coordinator of the International Labour Organization, Umirzhanov Talgat; the address: 473000, Kazakhstan, the city of Astana, 38 Bokey-Khana Street, tel.: +7 7172 59 25 50, tel.: + 7 7172 59 25 40,umirzhanov@ilo.org; 
Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of Population. The Minister: Abdikalikova Gulshara; the address: 010000, Astana city, Orynbor str. 8, House of the Ministries, front door 6, phone: +7 (7172) 74-28-51, e-mail: mintrud@enbek.kz ;
Confederation of Employers of Kazakhstan. The Chairman of the Board, Kadyr Baikenov, and the Executive Director, Nadhzat Kadyrov; the address: Kazakhstan, 050008, the city of Almaty, 3 Auezova Street, Office No. 1002, 1003, tel.: +7 7272 638 164, fax: +7 7272 638 24; e-mail: krrk@krrk.kz;
Trade Unions Federation of Kazakhstan. The President, Mukashev Siyazbek; the address: 010000, the city of Astana, 38 Abaya Prospect, tel.: +7 7272 21 68 14, fax: +7 7272 21 68 35, e-mail: fprkastana@nursat.kz.
Please do not hesitate to contact us, should you have any questions:
     Lyudmyla Kozlovska, Open Dialog Foundation, E-mail: lyudmylakozlovska@odfoundation.eu
     Nadejda Ataeyva, Association “Human Rights in Central Asia”, E-mail: n.atayeva@gmail.com .


Once again, about EU grant to organization controlled by Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva: new details and food for thoughts

We previously reported that the European Commission has allocated a grant of 3.7 Euro to a charitable organization controlled by the daughter of the Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov (see that press release in a separate file).

In the letter signed by Europa House in Uzbekistan and dated of 20 April 2011, it is stated that the European Union is cooperating with the Republican Center for Social Adaptation of Children (RCSAC), which has been headed by Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva since its very founding. The letter also reveals that in 2008, the Center was already awarded a grant from the EU’s Institution Building and Partnership Programme (IBPP). It is interesting to note that the mandate of this program is to support civil society initiatives. However, in consideration of whether RCSAC is indeed a civil society institution, it was actually created by government resolution, according to which RCSAC is to report directly to the Cabinet of Ministers.

It is also worth to note that the IBPP programme in Uzbekistan has a budget for 2011-2012 of only one million Euros, and that the size of individual grants should be within the range of 100,000-200,000 Euro. However, the organization controlled by Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva was awarded as much as 3.7 million Euros – that is, over three times than the entire IBPP budget for the whole country. RCSAC was evidently given rather exceptional treatment in comparison to other NGOs, as the size of the funding it received was 13 times higher than the maximum allowable grant provided to individual NGOs.

Apparently, such grants limited to 200 thousand Euros were not satisfactory enough for Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva. And therefore, the European Commission had to seek additional funds, this time under the so called Action Program 2010, clearly planned specifically to meet the needs of the president’s daughter. According to this Program, 4.2 million Euros were allocated for assistance to Uzbekistan, the lion’s share (3.7 Euros) of which was clearly intended for the organization controlled by Lola Karimova-Tillyaeva. The remaining scraps went to financing the “strengthening of the two-chamber parliament in Uzbekistan.” Moreover, the 3.7 million Euro grant to the organization controlled by Karimova-Tillyaeva, again was categorized under the program “assistance to civil society in Uzbekistan”.

As we noted earlier, when most of the initiative NGOs in Uzbekistan were shuttered from 2004- 2010, through a campaign to stifle civil society associations, RCSAC, like other pseudo-NGOs created by the government, have become a monopoly in their sector, and thus the only organizations eligible and able to obtain grants from the European Commission and other international donors.

According to a study conducted by the Eurasia Foundation, from 2004 to 2007, 313 NGOs had to close down under the pressure from the state authorities (the full list is attached in Russian). Among them were NGOs specializing in working with children and disabled persons (in total, 14 such NGOs were closed), youth (8 NGOs closed), women (34), and medicine (7) - they are listed at the end of this press release. None of these NGOs have a chance anymore to receive grants from the European Commission, nor can they even exist or work as associations of citizens.  Even were they able to maintain their registration status, they would nonetheless not be able to receive foreign grants, as from 2004 there has been put into implementation a draconian licensing mechanism for transferring grant funds to the bank accounts of NGOs. Such a license can only be issued by a special commission at the Central Bank, which is virtually controlled by the National Security Service. 

Needless to say, the organizations patronized by the daughters of the Uzbek dictator do not know about such issues faced by ordinary civil society organizations. Moreover, these exclusive GONGOs seem to receive exclusive gifts from the European Union.

We are not opposed to the European Union’s generous allocation of assistance to Uzbek children. However, we urge the European Commission to recognize this for what it is. In other words, it should not qualify such grants, allocated to the representatives of corrupt regime that stifles civic freedoms in Uzbekistan, as assistance to civil society.

It would be more honest to call this program by another name – a program to support the PR of the daughters of Islam Karimov, as we doubt that these funds won’t be further used by Karimov family for self-promotion and generous gifts to European movie and pop stars.


Some categories of NGOs, liquidated in Uzbekistan during 2004- 2007, as part of campaign to suppress civil society (the full list is in a separate attachment):

Children and disabled NGOs:
  1. Andizhan Club of Invalids’ parents “KRIDI”
  2. Bukhara Regional for Supporting Children of Invalids “Orzu”
  3. Centre of Women and Children - Invalids (Dzhizak)
  4. Children's Centre “Semourg “, Kokand 
  5. Tashkent Centre of Women and Children “Sabot” (Tashkent region)
  6. Fund of Children-Invalids (Karakalpakstan)
  7. Rehabilitation Centre of Children-Invalids (Karakalpakstan)
  8. Fund of Assistance to Children- Invalids (Samarkand region)
  9. Centre of Support of Women and Children-Invalids (Syr-Darya region)
  10. Association of Sportsmen-Invalids (Tashkent region)
  11. NGO “Aridi” (Karakalpakstan)
  12. NGO “KRIDI” (Karakalpakstan)
  13. Centre “Nekuz “ (Kashkadarya)
  14. Invalids Rehabilitation Centre “Umid” (Samarkand region)

Youth NGOs:
  1. Youth Centre “Iqbol” (Tashkent region)  
  2. Youth Centre “Maksad” (Khorezm region)
  3. Centre “Yoshlar kanoti” (Surkhandarya region)
  4. Centre “Barkamol avlod” (Surkhandarya region)
  5. Centre of youth initiatives “Jaslar” (Karakalpakstan)
  6. Youth Centre “Oltyn Kabutlar” (Samarkand region)
  7. College of Youth Problems (Surkhandarya region)
  8. Crisis Centre “Source” (Samarkand region)

Women NGO:
  1. Consulting Centre of Women-Lawyers “Family and Law” (Samarkand region)
  2. Centre of Confidence “Аёл ва Замон” (Andizhan region)
  3. Centre of Support of Women “Марварид” (Andizhan region)
  4. Cntre of Business Women and Craftswomen “El-Ayol “ (Andizhan region)
  5. Women Resource Centre (Bukhara region)
  6. NGO “School of housewives” (Karakalpakstan)
  7. NGO “Women and Aral children” (Karakalpakstan)
  8. NGO “Woman and health” (Karakalpakstan)
  9. Women Resource Centre (Kashkadarya region)
  10. NGO “Women In progress” (Kashkadarinskai region)
  11. Centre of Support of Women “Azizs” (Khorezm region)
  12. Women Centre “Yangi Khayot” (Khorezm region)
  13. Women Centre “Ikhlos” (Khorezm region)
  14. Women Centre “Marjon” (Khorezm region)
  15. Women Society “Orom” (Khorezm region)
  16. Women Centre “Mansura” (Khorezm region)
  17. Civic Centre of Women Initiatives (Khorezm region)
  18. Women Centre “Najot” (Khorezm region)
  19. Women Centre “Umida “ (Namangan region)
  20. Women Centre “Sharq Guzali” (Namangan region)
  21. Union of women-leaders “Сардор” (Navoi)
  22. Women Centre “Zebuniso” (Navoi)
  23. Women Centre “Umida” (Navoi)
  24. Women Centre “Мавтуна” (Navoi)
  25. Centre of social adaptation of women Navoi region
  26. Centre “Oila “ (Navoi)
  27. Centre of Women-Leaders “Sardor” (Navoi)
  28. Samarkand Region Union of Women NGOs(Samarkand region)
  29. Centre for Protection of  Rights and Interests of Women (Samarkand region)
  30. Tashkent Centre of Women-Leaders (Tashkent region) 
  31. Centre “Gender - Innovations and progress” (Tashkent region)
  32. Women Centre “Mekhri” (Tashkent region)
  33. NGO “Mehnatkash Ayol” (Tashkent region)
  34. Club of Women-Invalids “Intilish” (Tashkent region)

Medical NGOs
  1. Association of Young Physicians (Bukhara region)
  2. Centre “Avicena” (Fergana region)
  3. Association of Doctors-Volunteers “Revival” (Navoi)
  4. Association of Medical Students (Samarkand region)
  5. “Lainus Poling”  Centre of  Medical Information (Samarkand Region)
  6. Centre for Psychological and Legal Assistance “ Mehr Yogdusi” (Tashkent region)
  7. Centre for Social Adaptation and Reproductive Health (Tashkent region)

To the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Kazakhstan Mr. Ashat Daulbayev

June 7, 2011

To the Prosecutor General of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Mr. Ashat Daulbayev

The Prosecutor General of the Republic of Kazakhstan
8, Orynbor St., House of Ministries, Entrance
2010000 Astana
Republic of Kazakhstan

Via facsimile: +7 7172 50-25-34

Dear Ashat Kaizullayevich:

We, the undersigned international human rights organizations, are writing to express our grave concern about the possible extradition to Uzbekistan of 32 Uzbeks—two of whom are Tajik nationals—currently in custody in Almaty, Kazakhstan where they had sought asylum. We are of the firm belief that these men are at a real risk of torture if returned to Uzbekistan and therefore, according to Kazakhstan’s obligations under international law, may not be returned to Uzbekistan.

Kazakhstan is bound by international law, including by the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol, and the Convention against Torture, to respect the principle of non-refoulement. Thus, Kazakhstan is prohibited from extraditing or otherwise forcibly returning individuals to places where their lives or freedoms may be threatened or where they face a risk of torture.

In December 2010, ACAT France submitted a complaint to the United Nations Committee against Torture on behalf of 29 Uzbeks to prevent their extradition to Uzbekistan. Three other asylum seekers were subsequently detained. On December 24, 2010 the Committee against Torture imposed interim measures to stay extradition pending review of merits of the complaint. The government of Kazakhstan subsequently challenged the admissibility of the complaint. On May 6, 2011 the Committee reaffirmed the interim measures, prohibiting Kazakhstan from extraditing these individuals, pending the Committee’s review.

As stated above, Kazakhstan has an absolute obligation not to return anyone to a country where he or she faces a real risk of torture. Thus, under no circumstances may Kazakhstan extradite or otherwise return the 32 men to Uzbekistan. A violation of this obligation or of the interim measures imposed by the Committee against Torture would constitute a serious breach of Kazakhstan’s obligations under international law and call into question Kazakhstan’s willingness to respect its international commitments.

According to interviews conducted by FIDH with some of the men prior to their arrest, and information received from relatives and other asylum-seekers, the individuals facing extradition are Muslims who fled Uzbekistan fearing persecution based on their religious affiliation, beliefs, and practices, and membership or suspected membership in unregistered Islamist organizations. Kazakh authorities detained the men on the basis of extradition requests issued by the Uzbekistan government for alleged anti-state and religion-related offenses, such as attempt to undermine the constitutional order and membership in banned or unregistered organizations.

For well over a decade, authorities in Uzbekistan have waged an unrelenting campaign of persecution against Muslims who practice their faith outside strict state controls or who belong to unregistered religious organizations with thousands incarcerated for non-violent offenses.  Human rights organizations have documented numerous, widespread cases of torture and other ill-treatment, arbitrary detention, and deaths in custody of individuals accused of anti-state and religion-related crimes in Uzbekistan.  Methods of torture and other ill-treatment have included electric shock, beatings with truncheons, rape and other sexual abuse, asphyxiation, and psychological abuse, including threats to harm a detainee’s relatives.

Uzbekistan’s record on torture and ill-treatment of pre-trial detainees and prisoners has also been documented by UN bodies, including the-then UN special rapporteur on Torture, Theo van Boven, who in 2003 found torture in Uzbekistan to be “systematic,” and the UN Committee against Torture, which after its periodic review of Uzbekistan in 2007, found that torture in places of detention in Uzbekistan is “routine” and occurs “with impunity.” In addition, the European Court of Human Rights has issued multiple rulings prohibiting states from returning persons to Uzbekistan on the basis of a risk of torture.  Most recently, on November 4, 2010, in Sultanov v Russia (No. 15303/09), the court held that “forcible return to Uzbekistan would give rise to a violation of Article 3” [of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms] as there would be a “a serious risk of being subjected to torture or inhuman and degrading treatment.”

In the past, Kazakhstan has blatantly violated its absolute obligation not to return to torture. On May 30, 2011, Kazakh authorities extradited Ershidin Israil, an Uighur refugee, to China, where he faces a real risk of torture. In September 2009, Israil fled to Kazakhstan seeking asylum after the July 2009 Urumqi riots in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region of China, in which over 200 people were killed. Hundreds of Uighurs were detained after the violence in Urumqi, and several people have been executed for involvement in the rioting. 

In March 2010, UNHCR granted Israil refugee status, but Kazakh authorities prevented him being resettled to Sweden by denying him necessary exit documents. UNHCR later revoked his status.  Then, in June 2010, Kazakh authorities took Israil into custody. Israil was denied refugee status under Kazakhstan’s new law on refugees, and on May 30, 2011, he was handed over to Chinese authorities, who had reportedly accused Israil of involvement in “terrorism.” His whereabouts are currently unknown.

Despite the well-documented evidence that the use of torture in Uzbekistan is widespread and systematic, since September 2010, Kazakhstan has also forcibly returned to Uzbekistan at least four individuals, two of whom are not citizens of Uzbekistan, associated with the group of 32 detainees. On September 8, 2010, Kazakh authorities extradited Khurshid Kamilov, a citizen of Kyrgyzstan and ethnic Uzbek, to Uzbekistan. On September 27, Kazakhstan extradited Saidakhmad Kholmatov (b. 1974), an Uzbek citizen whose asylum claim was still under review, to Uzbekistan.  On October 30, 2010, before he could contest in court the decision denying him asylum, authorities extradited to Uzbekistan Umarali Abdurakhmanov (b. 1975), an ethnic Uzbek from Tajikistan who was detained in early 2010 in Taraz, Kazakhstan. On November 10, 2010, Rasul Rakhmonov (b. 1987), an Uzbek citizen, was also extradited to Uzbekistan. His asylum claim was under review at the time of his extradition. An Uzbek court sentenced Abdurakhmonov to 10 years’ imprisonment on January 27, 2011.  According to the verdict, Abdurakhmonov categorically denied the charges against him and said that the investigator made him sign several papers, saying “you committed these acts, sign the papers.” None of the signatories to this letter have been able to confirm the whereabouts of the other three.

Previously, in 2006, Kazakh authorities forcibly returned a UNHCR mandate refugee Gabdurafih Temirbaev, to Uzbekistan. He had fled religious persecution in his country and was subsequently detained by Kazakh authorities. In 2008, Kazakhstan also extradited Rafik Rakhmonov, who sought asylum in Kazakhstan after the Andijan massacre, in violation of its international obligations.

In light of the fact that the 32 Uzbek and Tajik nationals in detention and in extradition proceedings face a real risk of torture if returned to Uzbekistan, we urge the authorities of Kazakhstan, in the strongest possible terms, to uphold its non-derogable, international obligation not to forcibly return any of these men to Uzbekistan, and to cease or reverse extradition proceedings or rulings in relation to them.

We also wish to convey our concern about the fairness of appellate hearings contesting the extradition orders and refusals of asylum with respect to the 32 Uzbeks currently in detention.

All 32 had requested asylum from Kazakh authorities under Kazakhstan’s new Law on Refugees, which entered into force in January 2010.  Many of the provisions of this law fail to comply with international law, such as the provision allowing for the refusal of asylum on the basis that the applicant is a member of a banned religious organization in his or her country of origin.

While Kazakh authorities have allowed the detained asylum seekers access to lawyers to represent them in judicial proceedings, the appellate process has been marred by serious due process violations.

Independent observers, including representatives of the OSCE and Human Rights Watch, attended appellate hearings contesting the denials of asylum status in December 2010. In some cases, judges rejected detainees’ motions to attend their own hearings, effectively preventing them from presenting any evidence on their own behalf.  Judges also refused to admit into evidence reports by the UN and human rights organizations about the widespread practice of torture in Uzbekistan, in particular, against individuals charged with religion-related offenses.  In at least one hearing, the presiding judge dismissed the testimony of one of the detainee’s wives, who described harassment and torture she and her husband had experienced at the hands of Uzbek authorities, saying that there was no way to confirm her allegations.

Appellate hearings have occurred in quick succession, with judges issuing rulings in writing after only brief consideration, in some cases lasting as few as 15 minutes.  At the close of one hearing, the judge began to read aloud a decision affirming the denial of refugee status for another asylum-seeker whose appellate hearing had not yet taken place, giving rise to the legitimate apprehension that the outcome of each of the hearings for all detained asylum seekers was predetermined.

Kazakh authorities have also created barriers for the wives of the detained asylum-seekers to apply separately for refugee status, impeding their right to an individualized, thorough and careful refugee status determination. To date, it is unclear whether Kazakh authorities will treat the family members of the detained asylum-seekers as separate cases or whether the wives and children of the detainees could be forcibly returned together with their husbands. 

ACAT-France , Amnesty International, the Association “Human Rights in Central Asia,” Human Rights Watch, and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), urgently call on the Kazakh government to respect the interim measures issued by the UN Committee against Torture and prevent any further forced returns of any asylum-seekers to Uzbekistan.  Furthermore, Kazakh authorities should ensure that each detained asylum-seeker and his immediate family members are given prompt access to careful, thorough, and individualized refugee status determination in which their due process rights are protected.

We thank you for your attention to the concerns raised in this letter and look forward to receiving your response.


Amnesty International
The Association “Human Rights in Central Asia”
Human Rights Watch
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)

Uzbek Detainees Currently under Threat of Extradition to Uzbekistan

1.      Toirjon Abdusamatov (b. 1974)
2.      Faizullohon Akbarov (b. 1990)
3.      Akhmad Boltaev (b. 1968)
4.      Shukhrat Botirov (b. 1986)
5.      Sukhrob Bozorov (b. 1978)
6.      Mukhiddin Guliamov (b. 1967)
7.      Dilbek Karimov (b. 1987)
8.      Shukhrat Kholboev (b. 1973)
9.      Olimzhon Kholturaev (b. 1975)
10.  Alisher Khoshimov (b. 1969)
11.  Sarvar Khuramov (b. 1983)
12.  Abror Kosimov (b. 1983)
13.  Oibek Kuldashev (b. 1982)
14.  Sunnatullokh Kuldashev (b. 1985)
15.  Sukhrob Kuldashev (b. 1988)
16.  Kobildzhon Kurbonov (b. 1966)
17.  Bakhriddin Nurullaev (b. 1971)
18.  Bakhtiyor Nurullaev (b. 1983)
19.  Ulugbek Ostonov (b. 1973)
20.  Isobek Pardaev (b. 1987)
21.  Oibek Pulatov (b. 1987)
22.  Uktam Rakhmatov (b. 1989)
23.  Otabek Sharipov (b. 1978)
24.  Sherzod Shernazarov (b. 1978)
25.  Akmalzhon Shodiev (b. 1977, Tajik national)
26.  Tursunboi Sulaimonov (b. 1976, Tajik national)
27.  Sirozhiddin Tolipov (b. 1986)
28.  Ravshan Turaev (b. 1969)
29.  Faiziddin Umarov (b. 1978)
30.  Abduazimkhudzha Yakubov (b. 1982)
31.  Maruf Yuldoshev (b. 1990)
32.  Saidakbar Zhalolkhonov (b. 1974)

Mr. Juan Mendez, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment
Committee Members, United Nations Committee Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Chargé d’Affaires of the United States a.i. John Ordway
Ambassador David Moran, Embassy of the United Kingdom
Ambassador Jean-Charles Berthonnet, Embassy of France
Ambassador Rainer Schlageter, Embassy of Germany
Mr. Yerzhan Kazykhanov, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Kazakhstan
Mr. Askar Shakirov, National Ombudsman of the Republic of Kazakhstan