Assets acquired by the ruling elite in Uzbekistan as a result of the corruption scheme in telecommunications sector should be confiscated and returned to the victims of corruption:


29 November, 2016                                           Le  Mans, Berlin, Memphis 


A group of Uzbek activists, including Nadejda  Atayeva, Umida Niyazova, Sanjar Umarov, Yodgor Obid, Alisher Taksanov, Ismail Dadadjanov, Dovudkhon Nazarov, Alisher Abidov, Mirrakhmat Muminov, Dmitry Tikhonov and Ulugbek Khaydarov, have called upon the governments of the USA, Switzerland, Sweden, Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland and Luxembourg to support the case filed by the US Department of Justice to forfeiture $850 million, amassed by the ruling elite of Uzbekistan as a result of the corruption scheme in the telecommunications sector. Activists urge the governments not to return the assets to the Government of Uzbekistan, which is responsible for the offense, and to use these funds to redress for the victims of corruption, i.e. the people of Uzbekistan. An example of such fair repatriation of ill-gotten assets is the Bota Fund in Kazakhstan created out of “Kazakhgate” assets. If the Uzbek government doesn’t agree to create conditions for such a fund, these assets must be frozen into a trust accountable to the aforementioned governments and the civil society of Uzbekistan.

The full-text letter signed by activists is below and can be downloaded here. This letter should be considered only as a starting point – everyone, who wants Uzbekistan to embark on the path of reforms and become a country free of corruption, is invited to join and sign this letter. The collection of signatures is going on here.

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29 November, 2016                                                                                   Le Mans, Berlin, Memphis  

Assets acquired by the ruling elite of Uzbekistan as a result of the corruption scheme in its telecommunications sector should be confiscated and returned to the victims of corruption


We, the undersigned citizens of Uzbekistan, are writing to express our hope that the cases filed by the U.S. Department of Justice (No 1:15-cv-05063 of June 29, 2015 and No 1:16-cv-01257-UA of February 19, 2016), to forfeit the assets in the total amount of $850 million resulting from corrupt dealings in the telecommunications sector in Uzbekistan will succeed and the European states in whose banks these assets are frozen -- Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, Sweden and Switzerland -- will support these cases and take decision in the interests of the victims of corruption. While we have been forced to flee our homeland because of the risk of repression by the Karimov regime, we continue to participate in the public life of our country from exile.

We call on you not to return these assets to the government of Uzbekistan at this time because the government of Uzbekistan fails to address the issues of systemic corruption that is endemic to this government and fatally undermines the independence and integrity of the executive, legislature and judiciary.  After the death of Karimov, government authorities promised to reform the judicial system and adopt anti-corruption legislation, yet there is no reason to believe that the government will end the corruption that keeps it in power. Even during the reign of Karimov, the government adopted many good laws and signed and ratified a number of international conventions on human rights and against corruption. But in practice, the government has not implemented any of its laws or fulfilled its international obligations.

We believe that the proceeds from corruption should be used as redress for the people of Uzbekistan, truly the victims of state organized corruption.  Given the unlikeliness that the Uzbek government would agree to allow really independent disbursement of these funds in the near future, we call for the freezing of these assets into a transparent trust fund under international auspices accountable to key stakeholders, including civil society.

1. We are against the return of the assets to the government of Uzbekistan, which is among the most corrupt and repressive in the world.  In the annex you’ll find the summary describing the governance system and the human rights situation in Uzbekistan in support of this point. 

2. We also call on you to create a mechanism whereby the aforementioned assets can be used for the benefit of the people from whom they were stolen— the citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The loss they have suffered as a result of corruption should be compensated.

The amount subject to confiscation is significant, and would comprise a minimum 7% of the annual budget of the country. We propose to use the assets in question for the following purposes:

1) Fund for Compensation for Victims of Torture. We can and must consider those who have suffered torture as victims of political and state corruption, since torture serves the authoritarian rulers as a means to shield their shady dealings from public scrutiny and control. Torture is often used against those who criticize government corruption. Torture is also the most odious manifestation of the lawlessness and corruption in the judicial system of the country. We ask that a fund be created to assist torture victims, both those who remain in Uzbekistan as well as those forced to flee the country. Criteria for identifying torture victims can be taken from the published materials of human rights organizations, the UN Human Rights Committee and Committee Against Torture, the UN special procedures, as well as the materials used by the UN High Commission for Refugees and immigration authorities for evaluating asylum claims.

2) Educational and Health Care Programs for the most vulnerable social groups.

3) Economic Assistance Programs for impoverished groups such as micro-lending, infrastructure development, and small business services.

4) The creation of Corruption Prevention Mechanisms in Uzbekistan, that would promote transparency in government finance; reform the judicial system and law enforcement authorities; strengthen the independent legal profession; and establish effective anti-corruption bodies.

The main condition for implementing the charitable programs described above should be the non-interference by the Uzbek government in their administration.

A precedent for this already exists—the Bota Fund, established by a three-party agreement between the governments of the United States, Switzerland, and Kazakhstan, signed in 2007, and funded by assets from Kazakhgate” ($84 million paid to the president of Kazakhstan by a foreign company and seized from Swiss bank accounts). As you know, the fund supported programs to benefit impoverished children and its activities were accountable to its founders, as well as representatives of civil society and the World Bank.

The Bota Fund, in our view, serves as a successful example of the return of ill-gotten gains to benefit the victims of corruption without returning them to the government implicated in bribe taking. The fact that the fund was established with the participation of the government of Kazakhstan but without that government interfering or pressurising the Fund’s operations played a key role in its ultimate success. We hope very much that the government of Uzbekistan will agree to similar conditions for asset repatriation.

The charitable programs we proposed above should be accountable to the governments to which this letter is addressed, namely the governments of Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden,  Switzerland and the United States of America, as well as to the representatives of civil society.

At the same time, we understand that even by comparison with Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan presents an extremely unfavorable and difficult partner for implementing charitable projects like those carried out by the Bota Fund.

There are four main reasons for this:

1) If the Bota Fund implemented programs through allocating grants to local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that could provide assistance to the population, in Uzbekistan a functioning civil society as such does not exist. The majority of independent NGOs were destroyed between 2004-2007. For the most part, the organizations that are left are completely under the control of the government and their participation in a compensation and assistance project would violate the key principle of noninterference by the government.

2) The lack of freedom of expression, press, and association render effective independent monitoring of the activities of charitable projects impossible. The intolerance of, and harsh measures against independent observers would undermine the principles of transparency and accountability of a charitable fund, should one be established in Uzbekistan.

3) As noted above, during the period from 2004 to 2007, the government of Uzbekistan forced a range of international organizations out of the country, including Freedom House, The Eurasia Foundation, The Open Society Institute, and others. Human Rights Watch was also forced to close its office in 2011. The presence of these organizations in the country is vital for independent monitoring as well as for their support of domestic civil society. In other words, the successful implementation of the programs outlined above requires a favorable institutional and social operating environment.

4) Uzbekistan prohibits free currency exchange. Four different exchange rates exist. There is a significant difference between the official rate and the black market rate, which allows the government to manipulate this difference. Even if the government allows a charitable foundation to operate, it would first have to convert its funds into local currency at the low official rate, meaning the foundation would lose up to 50% of the value in the exchange.

While we acknowledge that a compromise with the Uzbek government regarding the creation of a charitable fund in Uzbekistan is necessary, we support such a compromise only in so far as it would include terms that would:
  • Remove or significantly reduce the barriers for freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association
  • Liberalize currency conversion policy in order to preserve the whole value of the assets for charitable programs.
  • Allow international nongovernmental organizations, especially those specializing in human rights and the fight against corruption to operate and receive accreditation in Uzbekistan.

3. Considering that the government of Uzbekistan is unlikely to agree to these conditions in the near future, the full amount of the assets or the majority should be held in a trust that is transparent and accountable to key stakeholders, including the governments of Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA, as well as the Uzbek civil societyю. Such a trust could be established under the auspices of an international organization with the appropriate mandate, experience, expertise, and impeccable reputation. The trust’s assets could be fully unfrozen when Uzbekistan develops the appropriate conditions for using these funds to benefit all citizens and it’ll demonstrate political will to accept the Bota Fund like solution. 

The governments of Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States of America should act in interests of Uzbek victims of corruption. Doing so will also protect western businesses from falling into a trap of shadowy deals with corrupt Uzbek officials – and subsequently facing multi-million penalties for bribery and misleading  their shareholders.

Nadejda Atayeva, Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, resident of France, n.atayeva@gmail.com (contact person)
Umida Niyazova, Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights, resident of Germany, umida.niyazova@gmail.com  (contact person)
Sanjar Umarov, former political prisoner, US resident
Jodgor Obid, former political prisoner, poet, member of the International Pen-Club (Austria), resident of Austria
Alisher Taksanov, journalist, resident of Switzerland
Ismail Dadajanov, Democratic Forum of Uzbekistan, resident of Sweden
Dovudhon Nazarov, resident of Sweden
Alisher Abidov, Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, resident of Norway
Mirrahmat Muminov, Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, US resident
Dmitry Tikhonov, resident of France
Ulughbek Haydarov, former political prisoner, resident of Canada


Corruption is systemic and systematic in Uzbekistan. In recent years, Uzbekistan’s ranking in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index has not risen above 153 of 168 countries. Corruption starts at the very top, as evidenced by the scheme to extract at least $850 million from telecommunications companies organized by Gulnara Karimova, the elder daughter of the former president.

This corrupt scheme has revealed the depressing reality in the Uzbekistan’s communications sector, including the complete lack of an open and transparent tendering process, which leads to the practice of issuing licenses in backroom deals. The state agency responsible for regulating the sector thus issued licenses to offshore companies with no experience running a business, with no reputation or even a staff, and allowed them to resell the licenses to international mobile operators in violation of Uzbek law. Since the corruption scandal of 2012-2014, the situation has not changed. Only Gulnara Karimova’s associates, who played rather a technical role in her corrupt schemes and under whose names the offshore companies were held, have faced prosecution, thus being held as scapegoats, while state officials who made decisions that lead to corrupt practices have walked away with impunity.

The situation has not changed under the new authorities. Untill now, licenses and frequencies allocation are still being allocated behind the scenes, beyond the law.

Furthermore, after the death of Karimov, the former chairperson of the National Agency for Telecommunications (now the Ministry of Development of Information Technologies and Communications) Abdulla Aripov, who personally authorized the allocation of licenses under the corrupt scheme and was discharged afterwards from his office, has evaded justice, and has now been restored to government posts.

Grand corruption in Uzbekistan is not limited to the telecommunications sector. It permeates other sectors of the economy too, especially the cotton sector, construction, trade and the sphere of currency exchange. Among the most corrupt government institutions are tax authorities, customs, judiciary, prosecutors’ offices, police and National Security Service.

The sphere of public finance as whole is completely non-transparent. Even parliament does not know the amount of revenue from major state-controlled exports including cotton, non-ferrous and precious metals, gas, and chemical products. Even more importantly, citizens do not know how these revenues are allocated. Insiders report that these revenues go not to the state budget but to extra budgetary accounts in the Central Bank that are controlled by President and a small circle surrounding him.

The systematic nature of corruption is also apparent in the country’s nascent private sector. Without an impartial judiciary and a transparent legal system, the business people can only operate either through clannish connections to government officials or by providing bribes to these officials.

The human rights situation is appalling, which is an integral part of the political and economic corruption in the country. According to all evidence, including the State Department’s human rights reports and information reviewed by the European Unions’ External Action Service, police routinely arrest people on false charges such as drug possession, tax evasion, and other serious offenses. In some instances these fabricated cases are politically motivated; in others, corruption motivated, when criminal prosecution is used as a means of extortion. Law enforcement authorities use intimidation, torture, humiliating and degrading treatment, to extract from detainees false confessions and statements incriminating others.

Based on personal experience and information from our colleagues, we can testify that torture has long been a routine practice by authorities in law enforcement structures and the prison system in Uzbekistan. The only representative of the UN Human Rights Council ever to have been able to visit Uzbekistan is UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment  Theo van Boven who, after his visit to the country in 2002, concluded that torture and other forms of cruel treatment in Uzbekistan are systematic. Since van Boven’s visit, no other UN special procedures on human rights have received an invitation to visit the country. In 2008, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Manfred Nowak, “stressed that he continued to receive serious allegations of torture by Uzbek law enforcement officials”.

Uzbekistan has perhaps the largest state-sponsored forced labor system in the world. It systematically violates national law and conventions of the International Labour Organization that Uzbekistan has signed and ratified and which prohibit forced labor. Every year more than a million citizens are forced against their will and under menace of penalty to harvest cotton every year. This year, the US Department of State lowered Uzbekistan’s ranking in the annual Trafficking in Persons report to Tier 3, the lowest ranking for its persistent use of mass forced labor of adults in the cotton harvest.[1]  The situation hasn’t changed after the death of Karimov. As under the previous regime, Uzbekistan continues to be the country of labor slavery and complete disregard of its own and international laws on human rights.

The government systematically violates civil rights and freedoms, including the rights to freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association. As under Islam Karimov, the real separation of powers is still non-existent, with all the power concentrated in the hands of an authoritarian ruler and his inner circle. The parliament acts as window dressing, rubber stamping legislation and decisions that are prepared by the presidential administration or the Cabinet of Ministers. Although judges are de jure independent, de facto they are subordinate to the executive branch, especially the heads of local administrations, the police, security services, and prosecutorial authorities, unconditionally carrying out whatever is dictated by the heads of these structures.

The defense bar is under the complete control of the government as represented by the Ministry of Justice and is not able to act on an equal footing with the prosecutor's office in the judicial process in order to protect the rights of defendants.

Intimidation of lawyers is frequent, particularly if they take up sensitive cases or cases that implicate the executive branch. As a result, lawyers refuse such cases or face the threat of losing their licenses. A number of lawyers are denied the right to leave the country, they are forbidden to speak at conferences without the Justice Ministry’s permission.

The judicial process is completely non-transparent. Neither law nor practice allows the open publication of indictments, verdicts, or other court material. Therefore society, as a rule, does not know why someone is sentenced, what are the arguments of prosecutor and defense. Judges ignore allegations of torture made by defendants and don’t proceed with respective medical examination. The court hearings on criminal cases are often held behind closed doors, with no access provided for the public and the press, especially if these are politically motivated cases.

Violations of human rights are closely linked with corrupt practices by government bodies. The police often arrest people and judges sentence them to prison to extort bribes. Just one recent example is the case of the arrest and fabricated case against the Ibodov brothers, entrepreneurs from the Bukhara region. The real reason for their arrest was the refusal by the brothers to pay bribes to law enforcement officials. One of the brothers, Rahim Ibodov, received a sentence of eight years in prison. The other, Ilhom Ibodov, died as a result of torture. The court ignored Rahim Ibodov’s allegations that he and his brother were severely tortured. The authorities refused to investigate the allegations and, in doing so, became accomplices in this crime.[2] 

The authorities also imprison and torture those who attempt to expose the government’s abuse of power. The journalist and human rights defender Dimurod Said, who exposed corruption in the Jambai district of the Samarkand region, was sentenced in 2009 to 12.5 years in prison, where he has contracted tuberculosis as a result of terrible conditions of detention.[3]

More than 30 civil society activists and journalists and thousands of practicing Muslims are behind bars on politically-motivated charges. Some of them will not be released alive or will be released with their health destroyed from torture and ill-treatment in prison.

Given this state of affairs, returning the proceeds of corrupt dealings by senior Uzbek officials to the government of Uzbekistan would be tantamount to returning it to the same people who stole it or are implicated in its theft.

It is guaranteed that any amount returned to the government of Uzbekistan would disappear into extra-budgetary and non-transparent accounts at the disposal of the ruling elite with no accountability to the public. It is also extremely likely that some of the funds would be used to strengthen the repressive apparatus, for covert operations against dissidents and critics of the abuse of power, including by paying criminals to carry out political assassinations of dissidents located outside the country.

One example of this practice of hiring criminals by the Uzbek security services was the attempted assassination in Sweden of the Uzbek refugee, and well-known imam Obidkhon Nazarov in 2012; [4] another such case is the murder of the journalist Alisher Saipov in 2007.[5]

Though President Karimov recently died, there is no reason to believe that his corruptly cultivated network of government officials responsible for keeping him in power for so long plan to operate any differently.

Despite the rhetoric heard from the new authorities that target the abuse of public office, we see all the same practice of violating the rights of citizens, that include the continuing practice of forced labor, arrests and beatings in custody of human rights defenders and journalists.

The return of the assets to the government of Uzbekistan would act against the interests of victims of corruption and encourage new criminal practice.  Such a turn of events would be greatly demoralizing to Uzbek society and also negatively affect the reputation of the governments in the US and Europe, who are declaring support to human rights and the fight against corruption. The entire world, including the people of Uzbekistan, closely watches the actions of these governments in these matters.

There are no adequate conditions for independent monitoring. There are a number of cases when Uzbek activists tried to carry out monitoring on various issues, for example of forced labor. These activists suffered serious reprisals from the government in retaliation for their activities, for example, human rights activist Uktam Pardaev was convicted on spurious criminal charges,[6] while Dmitrii Tikhonov, another activist, was beaten by police and had his home destroyed by arson,[7] which was evidently a response from the Uzbek authorities to their activity on monitoring the practice of forced labor.


Uzbekistan: Investigate Death in Custody, Torture

Brothers Opposed Extortion, Threatened to Expose Corruption

Ibodov brothers: Rahim (left), Ilhom (right)
(Paris, November 28, 2016) – Uzbek authorities should ensure a thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into the alleged torture of two brothers by the Uzbek National Security Service (SNB), and the death in custody of one of them, Human Rights Watch, the International Partnership for Human Rights, Freedom House, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia said today.

Ilhom Ibodov, who died in a National Security Service detention facility in Bukhara in September 2015, was allegedly tortured before he died, as was his brother, Rahim Ibodov, who is currently serving an eight-year sentence. Both men, who had refused to comply with extortion demands and had threatened to expose alleged corruption by security service, were arrested for “administrative violations” and later charged with bogus tax and other commercial offences.

“The death of Ilhom Ibodov in custody, and the serious allegations of ill-treatment that preceded it, underscore the brutal reality of Uzbekistan’s torture problem,” said Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Ibodov’s arrest, torture and death mock the government’s claims that it is seriously tackling the problems of torture and corruption alike.”

Ibodov, an entrepreneur from the western city of Bukhara, died on September 13, 2015, in security service custody after he threatened to expose an alleged corruption scheme within the agency and was charged with bogus commercial fraud offenses. The SNB is widely regarded as the most powerful and most feared institution in Uzbekistan. Ibodov’s relatives provided the human rights groups with a credible account by witnesses and photographs of his body, which a forensic expert concluded corroborate allegations that Ibodov was tortured. The relatives said that one scheme involved the alleged fraudulent acquisition of land by one of the arresting security service officers.

Evidence surrounding Ibodov’s death, including his alleged torture, emerged from an investigation by his relatives. As part of their inquiries, they sought the opinion of an independent medical expert, who examined photographs of Ibodov’s body taken after the security service returned it to them for burial. The expert concluded that the photographs indicated injuries consistent with blunt force trauma and other wounds that could have resulted from torture.

Rahim Ibodov provided a detailed account to relatives of the men’s treatment in custody. He said that officials at a security service detention center where they were first held told the men’s cellmates to beat them, and that the brothers were severely beaten repeatedly for the 25 days they spent there. The brothers were then moved to another security service facility, where, Rahim Ibodov said, three of the officers who had demanded bribes, beat his brother to death.
Relatives told the rights groups that authorities returned Ilhom Ibodov’s body to them in Bukhara on September 13, and pressured them to bury the body by the next day. In November, authorities provided Ilhom’s mother with a death certificate listing the cause of death as “heart attack.”

International human rights groups asked an independent medical forensic expert from outside Uzbekistan, who has worked as chief of medical services for a government ministry as well as a consultant for human rights organizations, to examine photographs and video of Ilhom Ibodov’s body taken by family members on the day it was returned to them. The expert said that the images showed wounds around both ankles, a possible result of being shackled or bound with rope, and hematomas on his lower back, buttocks, shoulder, and the sole of his feet consistent with blunt force. The expert concluded that these and other marks were consistent with allegations of torture.

On February 15, 2016, a Bukhara criminal court sentenced Rahim Ibodov to eight years in prison for “illegal acquisition of foreign currency,” tax evasion, commercial trading and services violations, and money laundering. The judge ignored Ibodov’s statements in court that he and his brother had been beaten and that their confession was obtained through torture. He is serving his sentence in Tavaksay prison colony UYa 64/3 in the Tashkent region.

Uzbek authorities have repeatedly tried to intimidate Ilhom’s relatives and threatened that Rahim Ibodov will “never leave prison alive” if they continue to press for answers about Ilhom Ibodov’s death. To date, the family has written 160 petitions to various Uzbek government authorities, including 25 letters to the late President Islam Karimov and now interim President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, asking for an investigation into the torture of the brothers, Ilhom Mirziyoyev’s death in custody, and Rahim’s trial and sentence. Authorities have not meaningfully responded to any of the appeals. Nor has an investigation into Ilhom’s death or the torture allegations been ordered.

Khursand Rajabova - mother of Ibodov brothers
“As a mother, I only want one thing – for my son Rahim to be released, and justice for those who tortured my sons and killed Ilhom,” Khursand Rajabova, the men’s mother, told human rights groups. “Yes, my daughter and I have been threatened for appealing to human rights activists and journalists. But I will not be silent because I am certain that truth and a mother’s love are stronger.”

The Uzbek government, led by interim president Shavkat Mirziyoyev, should guarantee an effective investigation of the circumstances of Ibodov’s death, allow the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to monitor detention sites, allow non-governmental organizations into the country, invite the United Nations special rapporteur on torture to visit in accordance with his mandate, and bring national laws and practices into compliance with its international obligations to prevent and combat torture, the groups said.

For more than a decade, the UN special rapporteur on torture, the UN Committee against Torture, the UN Human Rights Committee, the US State Department, and numerous decisions of the European Court of Human Rights have recognized the widespread nature of torture in Uzbekistan’s prisons and places of detention. For 14 years, Uzbekistan has denied access to all 14 UN experts who have requested invitations, including the UN special rapporteurs on the situation of human rights defenders and on torture, and has failed to comply with recommendations made by various expert bodies. In April 2013, the government’s interference with the ICRC’s prison monitoring led it to end its prison visitation program.

“Ibodov’s death is highly suspicious and demands a thorough and independent investigation and prosecution of anyone found responsible,” said Brigitte Dufour, director of the International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR). “The Uzbek government should also allow for regular, unfettered, independent, expert monitoring of prison conditions, invite UN experts to visit the country, and bring its laws and practices in line with international standards to help prevent such deaths in the future.”

The UN Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary, and Summary Executions call for the “thorough, prompt and impartial investigation” of all suspicious deaths in custody to “determine the cause, manner and time of death, the person responsible, and any pattern or practice which may have brought about that death.” The principles state that “families of the deceased and their legal representatives shall be informed of, and have access to, any hearing as well as to all information relevant to the investigation, and shall be entitled to present other evidence.”

Uzbekistan’s international partners, including the US and EU, should make clear that unless the Uzbek government makes measurable improvements in human rights, they will impose targeted restrictions such as visa bans and asset freezes against Uzbek government entities and individuals responsible for grave human rights violations, including torture, the rights groups said. They should also seek to establish a special rapporteur devoted to Uzbekistan’s human rights record at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

“The Ibodov family needs more than our sympathy,” said Nadejda Atayeva, president of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia. “They need justice, swift action from Uzbekistan’s international partners, and an end to the impunity for torture and abuse that reigns supreme in Uzbekistan.”

A Brother’s Account of Death by Torture

On August 16, 2015, SNB officers detained Ilhom and Rahim Ibodov at the Sitora car market in Bukhara, where they sold car accessories, stereos, and music. Relatives told Human Rights Watch that for several years, SNB officers and other officials had extorted bribes from the men to allow them to run their business. Just before their detention, the brothers had refused to continue paying large bribes and threatened to file an official complaint about extortion and racketeering, their relatives said. The relatives believe senior officers in the Bukhara regional SNB and tax department ordered the men’s detention.

Rahim Ibodov told his family that they were brought before a court, which sanctioned their arrest for “administrative violations” first for 10 days and then again for another 15. The brothers were held at a temporary detention facility of the Bukhara Department of Internal Affairs for those 25 days.

On the day of their arrest, a Bukhara police officer and an SNB officer told the men they would be immediately released if they agreed to sign a false confession, but otherwise would be detained indefinitely. Rahim Ibodov said that the confession stated falsely that the two used forced laborers, owned unauthorized trucks, and were receiving illegal foreign currency every month from abroad, and that Rahim Ibodov had illegally traveled with his mother to Mecca for the annual Hajj pilgrimage through neighboring Kyrgyzstan.

Rahim Ibodov later told his family that throughout their detention, officials encouraged four of their cellmates – the names of whom are known to the human rights groups but are not disclosed here for safety reasons – to beat the two brothers harshly as punishment for their plans to expose alleged corruption by SNB officers. The inmates beat the men daily. Rahim Ibodov said that his brother was beaten especially severely after he refused to provide further false testimony and continued to threaten to expose the officers’ involvement in various corruption schemes.

Rahim Ibodov later recalled that the cellmates had used something like rope to bind his and Ilhom’s feet together, and that they had been beaten on the soles of their feet.

On September 10, prosecutors charged the two men with “illegal acquisition of foreign currency” (under article 177(a)(b) of the Uzbek Criminal Code); tax evasion (article 184(3)); commercial trading and services violations (article 189), and money laundering (article 243).

Later that night or on September 11, security service officers transferred the men to a permanent SNB detention facility in Bukhara, where the two brothers were put in facing basement cells. On the way there, Ilhom Ibodov asked his brother to take care of Ilhom’s family in the event of his death.

On September 12, Rahim Ibodov told relatives that he saw through the open door of his brother’s cell three officers standing over him and begin to beat him. Rahim Ibodov identified the three officers as Azim Yunusov, head of the inspections department of the Bukhara SNB, an officer he knew as Bahodir whose surname he does not know, and an officer he knew as Inom whose surname he does not know but he believes was from the SNB’s anti-corruption department. He knew the officers because the officers had, for several years, extorted the bribes from the brothers. Rahim Ibodov told his family that he saw the officers landing continuous blows all over his brother’s body, including to his kidneys, shoulders, and chest.

Rahim Ibodov told relatives that the officer who he knew as Bahodir stepped on Ilhom Ibodov’s chest with both feet and yelled, “If we kill you, no one will ask us about what happened! No one!” Then the three began to hit and kick Ilhom Ibodov vigorously again. Rahim Ibodov said he believes his brother Ilhom lost consciousness at this stage. The officers summoned a doctor into the cell to examine Ilhom Ibodov. Rahim called to the doctor, begging her to help his brother. He said she answered: “I will help him once he’s dead.”


Norway: We call upon authorities to stop deportation of human rights defender Igor Belyatsky!

Igor Belyatsky
At 2am on 10 November 2016 in Norway, four police officers (one woman and three men) forced their way into Igor Belyatsky’s house, a member of the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia since 2010. 

Igor Belyatsky and his wife Yelena Tretyakova were arrested on the basis of a decision of the NEMDA to deport them because their applications for a status of refugees were refused. As it has transpired by now, the police had not have any information that this decision had been appealed.

The police officers refused to listen to any explanations and insisted that the couple follow them to the airport in order to take a flight leaving at 6am on 10 November.  At the airport, when the couple were told to get into the bus taking them to the plane they began to resist and to call for help and asked to speak with the air crew captain. Igor Belyatsky wanted to inform the captain that he and his wife were being deported from Norway without being given the right to exhaust all avenues of appeal provided under the Norwegian law, and in fact, this is a forcible return, in violation of Article 3 Part 1of the UN Convention against Torture.

The police officers then began to beat the couple. A woman police officer reportedly hit Yelena Tretyakova several times with all her might and until she lost consciousness.

Whenever she began crying and asking for help another police officer hit her head against the slabs
Norway, 2010
on the floor, in order to keep her quiet and to make her stop shouting and attracting the attention of other passengers. These beatings were carried out in front of other passengers waiting to board a plane. There are video cameras in this area which must have recorded the incident and behaviour of the police officers. Some passengers were recording this act of violence on their mobile phones. At the same time two police officers twisted Igor’s arms and were putting pressure on his neck, Igor noticed that this was being recorded by a man and he called out for the man to upload the video to Facebook in hopes that AHRCA and international organisations would see the footage.

Later the exhausted and badly beaten couple were put into a police bus and taken to the deportation camp Trandum. The police officers continued beating Yelena on the way there, as she was in hysterics and could not calm down due to the pain and humiliation she had experienced from the Norwegian law enforcement officials.

At 14:00 hours on the 10 of November 2016 Igor Belyatsky called the Association for Human Rights to inform them regarding his current location and asked to make this incident public. He also stated that they were examined by the doctor, who recorded the signs of beatings on both victims and confirmed that Elena Tretyakova received a concussion and dislocation of the right hand.

The Association for HumanRights in Central Asia would like to remind the Norwegian authorities of the fact that the international human rights organisations on numerous occasions have pointed out to the existence of torture in Belarus. For example, as Amnesty International has reported earlier the representative of the Belorussian opposition and ex-candidate for Presidency in the 19 December 2010 elections Andrei Sannikov was tortured while under arrest. On 10 December 2009, European Court of Human Rights issues a prohibition on extradition to Belarus of a musician and activist Igor Koktysh, where he could face torture, other forms of cruel treatment, unfair court hearings and even death penalty.

At the same time, Article 3 Part 1 of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment states:
«No State Party shall expel, return («refouler») or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture».

The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia asks the Norwegian authorities to revoke the deportation order against human rights activist Igor Belyatsky and to immediately provide medical assistance to Igor Belyatsky and his wife Yelena Tretyakova.

We ask that the Norwegian authorities carry out a forensic medical examination to confirm the fact of injury and assess the damage caused to the health of the couple.

AHRCA calls upon the Norwegian Prosecutor General to carry out an objective and thorough investigation into the incident and bring those responsible to justice.

We call upon international organizations to monitor the fate of human rights activist Igor Belyatsky and his wife Yelena Tretyakova.


Briefing paper for EU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue, 8 November 2016: Human Rights in Uzbekistan


Uzbekistan is undergoing a turbulent time as the death of former President Islam Karimov has led to a period of political transition which looks set to continue the profound disregard for fundamental rights and freedoms and constitutional violations which marked his 27-year rule.  

Internal “enemies of the state” are being sought out by the Uzbekistani authorities and the chances of upcoming presidential elections being free and fair seem non-existent - as although various political candidates have come forward, there is not one opposition leader amongst them and the current repressive political climate does not allow for open discussion of political alternatives.

Acting President, Shavkat Mirziyayev has announced six priority areas for the country, but human rights are not amongst them and there are no signs as yet that Uzbekistan intends to implement the conditions outlined in the European Council conclusions made in the aftermath of the Andijan events. It is of utmost importance that Uzbekistan’s international partners ensure that human rights are included as a key priority in all bilateral and multilateral meetings with the post-Karimov leadership. 

The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia (AHRCA) and International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) wish to draw attention to the following cases and human rights concerns. 

National mechanisms for human rights protection and individual complaints procedures

The Uzbekistani authorities continue to view citizens’ appeals to government agencies or courts as threats. Usually citizens send appeals to the highest authorities such as the Presidential apparatus and the General Prosecutor’s office and the State National Security Service (SNB -  Sluzhba Natsionalnoi Bezopasnosti in Russian), bypassing lower level officials who are confident of their impunity. Often these appeals are simply forwarded for review to the very same agencies whose officials the citizens are complaining about. 

Since coming to power, Acting President Mirziyayev has a page on his official website where people are invited to leave statements, suggestions and complaints for his attention. However, only people living inside Uzbekistan can access this reception desk as a local telephone number is required in order to register on the website. The Presidential Administration is known to dismiss a large proportion of complaints as “inadmissible”.

We have received a recent report that representatives of the presidential apparatus met with relatives of political prisoner Rustam Usmanov and promised to follow up concerns about his state of health within two to three weeks.

On 21 October Shavkat Mirziyayev signed a Decree “On Measures of future reform of the judicial legal systems, and strengthening guarantees for the reliable protection of the rights and freedoms of citizens”, listing measures which will come into force from 1 April 2017 onwards.  Although the decree provides for positive measures: limiting the time a suspect can be held in detention before being charged from 72 to 48 hours; providing for alternative methods of punishment to imprisonment; and for greater transparency in the complaints’ system, it remains to be seen how these provisions will be implemented in practice and we urge the EU to monitor the implementation of this closely. 

The procedure of reviewing complaints remains opaque and does not inspire confidence in a population used to reprisals from government authorities in response to speaking out with complaints. Relatives of prisoners have told Association for Human Rights in Central Asia (AHRCA) and International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) that the problem they encountered when trying to lodge complaints with the various official bodies is that the different bodies send the complaints directly to their respective regional offices instead of undertaking investigations themselves.  

As a result, many people turn to public forums to criticize the Uzbekistani authorities through social media and independent on-line resources. This often attracts the attention of SNB officers who begin verifying any connections with opposition members and “enemies of the state”. Those people who turn to international human rights organizations and make public appearances on media outlets such as Radio “Ozodlik” (Uzbek department of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty), ВВС and others, are often subsequently banned from leaving the country. In this respect the policy of the Uzbekistani authorities has not changed since the death of Islam Karimov and is implemented in relation not only to former political prisoners and their relatives, but also towards anyone who shows sign of independence or criticism of the Uzbekistani authorities. 

Although there are post boxes for prisoners’ complaints to the human rights Ombudsman and the General Prosecutor’s office situated inside prison buildings, prison administration staff have keys to these boxes, undermining the confidential and secure nature of the initiative.

Violations of Freedom of Expression and Association 

The right to freedom of expression remains curtailed in Uzbekistan with human rights activists, independent journalists and government critics being targets for reprisals regardless of whether they are based in Uzbekistan or abroad.  Uzbekistani government officials carry out surveillance and control the movements of those who remain in Uzbekistan in particular.  Activists and journalists who criticize the authorities are pursued and subjected to arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture and ill-treatment, and prosecutions in retaliation for their work.
Numerous activists, journalists and dissidents who have been imprisoned following unfair trials serve their sentences in prison conditions which amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. These include: Nuraddin Dzhumaniyazov, Fakhriddin Tillaev, Azam Farmonov, Isroilzhon Kholarov, Ganikhon Mamatkhanov, Muhammad Bekzhanov and Yusuf Ruzimurodov and former UN official Erkin Musaev.
Citizens who are openly critical of the Uzbekistani government or of highly ranking officials are often charged with fabricated criminal charges of “threatening state security”, such charges are usually brought by the SNB. 

There are very few independent human rights NGOs working openly in Uzbekistan where it is virtually impossible for them to obtain legal status and restrictive government regulations hamper the implementation of their activities. 

Human rights activists working on monitoring the cotton harvest and former correspondents of the independent online media service “Uznews.net” have come under pressure from the authorities and have been refused permission to leave Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan still requires exit visas for citizens to travel abroad, and authorities often withhold these visas as a tool to punish those perceived as critical.   Those banned from traveling abroad in recent years include activists Shukhrat Rustamov, Sergei Naumov, Saida Kurbanova, Elena Urlaeva, and Uktam Pardaev. In January 2016, activist Uktam Pardaev was convicted of fraud, insult and bribe-taking and given a suspended sentence in retaliation for his work monitoring the cotton harvest. 

Human rights defenders who have fled Uzbekistan and who carry on their activities from abroad face ongoing pressure and intimidation from the Uzbekistani authorities. Over the last year growing numbers of Uzbekistani activists living in Georgia, France, the USA and Norway have reported receiving threats of reprisals against their relatives living in Uzbekistan. AHRCA has documented 42 such cases over the last year. 

Human rights defenders who face repression in Uzbekistan due to their activities also struggle to find refuge due to Uzbekistan’s use of INTERPOL‘s Red Notice system to export repression and extend its politically motivated use of the criminal justice system beyond its own borders. Red Notices are alerts used for locating and arresting international fugitives for the purpose of extradition, and they are essential tools that facilitate international police cooperation. However Uzbekistan’s misuse of the Red Notice system for political purposes has put opposition activists, journalists, and recognized refugees at risk of detention and extradition proceedings that could expose them to torture and other serious human rights violations.

Amongst those activists affected by the abusive use of INTERPOL’s Red Notice system in retaliation for speaking out about human rights issues is Nadejda Atayeva, Uzbekistani human rights activist and Director of AHRCA who was granted asylum in France. Despite her refugee status, the Red Notice against her meant that she lived in fear of arrest and extradition to the very country from which she had escaped persecution.  AHRCA information indicates that there are at least 40 civil society activists from Uzbekistan, many of whom have refugee status, who are subject to INTERPOL Red Notices and studies to analyse these cases more closely are currently underway. 

Abusive, politically motivated Red Notices are issued in violation of INTERPOL’s own constitutional rules that guarantee political neutrality and respect for human rights. However, as highlighted through the activities of the non-governmental organization Fair Trials’ , there are some serious challenges to INTERPOL’s ability to enforce its own rules to prevent the misuse of its systems, and there are serious flaws in the procedures in place for challenging abusive Red Notices.  While INTERPOL is taking steps to address these concerns, states such as Uzbekistan must also be encouraged to refrain from misusing INTERPOL’s systems in a way which threatens to compromise its credibility and effectiveness as an important police cooperation tool.


The Uzbekistani authorities should be urged to: 
  • Ensure that the right to freedom of expression is respected for all persons in Uzbekistan, as well as Uzbekistani citizens residing abroad; 
  • Put an end to persecution of human rights defenders, journalists and dissident voices and ensure that all harassment, persecution and reprisals by the Uzbekistani authorities of their relatives living in Uzbekistan ceases immediately; 
  • Immediately and unconditionally release Nuraddin Dzhumaniyazov, Fakhriddin Tillaev, Azam Farmonov, Isroilzhon Kholarov, Ganikhon Mamatkhanov, Muhammad Bekzhanov and Yusuf Ruzimurodov and former UN official Erkin Musaev as well as all others who have been detained solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly;
  • Allow independent NGOs to obtain legal status and to work without interference from the authorities and invite them to take part in the elaboration and implementation of a new national human rights agenda;
  • Include civil society in meaningful and constructive discussions on human rights reform. 
The Uzbekistani authorities should:
  • Refrain from using Red Notices and other INTERPOL alerts in ways that violate INTERPOL’s political neutrality and its commitment to respect human rights, and particularly refrain from using Red Notices against human rights defenders.
The EU and its member states should:
  • Use due diligence to ensure that no one in their jurisdiction is returned, by means of extradition or otherwise to Uzbekistan if there is a real risk of torture or other ill-treatment. 
Torture of prisoners and prison conditions amounting to cruel, inhuman 
and degrading treatment 

Conditions in prisons in Uzbekistan are often so substandard that they amount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. There are numerous credible reports from former prisoners of severe overcrowding in cells in prisons and pre-trial detention centres, and consistent reports about appalling conditions in some prisons with inadequate drinking water, food, medication, sanitation and ventilation. Such poor living conditions contribute to incidence of infectious diseases. Restriction of access to health care leads to frequent cases of death, injury, disability, diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis B and C, AIDS etc. Prisoners deemed about to die are sent to the one prison hospital in the country, “Sangorod” in Tashkent. According to our sources deaths occur daily in this hospital but the causes of death are not examined or investigated.

The exploitation of prisoners has become commonplace: since 2013 AHRCA has received reports from five separate credible sources about prisoners in so-called “colonii poseleniya” (settlement colonies ) being mobilized during the cotton harvest. Two of these sources provided information on this in 2016 and one source stated that during the cotton harvest season some prisoners are forced to collect up to 100-150 kg of cotton per day.  This is an unrealistically high amount of cotton to pick and failure to do so can lead to prisoners sometimes being charged with violating prison rules (article 221 of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan). In order to avoid these charges prisoners’ families sometimes pay bribes to “compensate” for the shortfall of cotton.  Prisoners are often forced to work in brick factories, using very old machinery which results in frequent injuries from heavy lifting such as hernias. According to the testimony of former prisoners, prisoners sometimes become disabled as a result of such labour. However, disabled prisoners rarely benefit from prison amnesties. 

AHRCA received information from a number of credible sources that before being released from prison, prisoners are interviewed by officials from the SNB or prison administration and required to sign a confession admitting their guilt and a written agreement that they will not disclose any "state secrets" under Article 162 of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan. They are also reportedly told that they should not talk about their experience of torture in prison.  Several former prisoners informed AHRCA confidentially that prior to release prisoners are sometimes subjected to torture to obtain self-incriminating testimony. Their statements are held by on file by the SNB and used to instigate new criminal charges should the released prisoners talk about the situation in prison or criticize the political regime. 

Former prisoners report that the following categories of prisoners are most exposed to torture and other ill-treatment: 
- "marked cases" (tochkovanniye) - when a criminal file of a prisoner imprisoned on politically motivated charges is marked to indicate that the prisoner will serve the full term, without the right to amnesty or pardon;
- "Red articles”- criminal code articles concerning involvement in banned organizations, attempts on the constitutional system and ties with opposition and critics of the regime.
Such prisoners are reportedly interviewed each month by SNB officials and are at increased risk of being sexually abused (including through rape with a truncheon) in order to get them to testify against themselves or others. 

These prisoners are also at high risk of having their sentences arbitrarily extended under Article 221 of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan (“Disobedience to lawful demands of prison administration”).
The practice of arbitrarily extending prison terms even for minor alleged infractions of prison rules under Article 221 of the Criminal Code has led to many prisoners, especially those convicted of so-called anti-state offences, serving de facto indefinite sentences. Arbitrary extension of prison terms has been frequently used in relation to imprisoned human rights defenders, journalists, political opponents and people convicted of crimes related to “religious extremism”. These extended sentences are typically handed down in unfair closed trials which violate international fair trial guarantees.


The Uzbekistani authorities should be urged to:    
  • Take meaningful steps to fully address the concerns and effectively implement the recommendations of  the UN Committee Against Torture and the UN Human Rights Committee;
  • Invite the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to the country as a matter of priority in the nearest future;
  • Initiate prompt, impartial and comprehensive investigations into all complaints of torture or other ill-treatment of any person subjected to any form of arrest, detention or imprisonment, as well as when there are reasonable grounds to believe that torture or other ill-treatment has occurred even if no complaint has been made;
  • Given the near 0% acquittal rate in Uzbekistan, take urgent measures to ensure that all trials are conducted in proceedings that fully meet international fair trial standards, including Uzbekistan’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
  • Cease the practice of holding closed trials inside prisons and prison camps of convicted prisoners charged with allegedly breaking prison rules and conduct an impartial judicial review of all sentences of those convicted and sentenced to additional years in prison under article 221 of the Criminal Code.
Lack of independent international monitoring access

In the absence of impartial and effective national monitoring mechanisms and with no imminent prospect of one being established soon, it is essential that the government invites independent, international monitoring bodies to visit Uzbekistan. Currently, there are 14 pending requests for country visits by the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council, including the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.


The Uzbekistani authorities should be urged to: 
  • Ensure independent international monitoring access by, as a matter of priority, extending invitations 
  • Establish an effective system of independent, unannounced inspection and supervision of all places of detention by competent, independent and impartial bodies with a view to preventing any cases of torture. The findings of the investigations and visits of these bodies should be published in full.
Individual cases: 
Political Prisoners: 
The following people have been imprisoned in Uzbekistan on politically motivated grounds and should be immediately and unconditionally released from detention:  
1. Nuraddin Dzhumaniyazov, 
2. Fakhriddin Tillaev, 
3. Azam Farmonov,
4. Isroilzhon Kholarov,  
5. Ganikhon Mamatkhanov, 
6. Muhammad Bekzhanov 
7. Yusuf Ruzimurodov, 
8. Erkin Musaev, 
9. Gaibullo Djalilov, 
10. Matluba Kamilova, 
11. Chuan Mamatkulov, 
12. Aksam Turgunov, 
13. Solidzhon Abdurakhmanov, 
14. Gairat Mikhliboev, 
15. Dilmurod Saidov, 
16. Samandar Kukanov, 
17. Kudratbek Rasulov, 
18. Rustam Usmanov.   
Cases of particular concern include: 
a) Rustam Usmanov 
Rustam Turdievich Usmanov, (born 23 June 1948) is a citizen of Kyrgyzstan and the Russian Federation. He was the manager of a private bank, was arrested on 13 February 1998 and on19 October 1998  sentenced him to 14 years’ imprisonment after finding him guilty of “abuse of power or authority» (article 205)),«Forgery by official entity» (article 209), the  «Illegal purchase or sale of foreign currency » (article 177) and «Extortion» (article 165). The charges were politically motivated due to his links with the opposition party “Erk”. On 2 February 2012 Kungrad court sentenced him to an additional five years in prison under article 221 («Disobedience to lawful demands of prison administration»). He has reportedly not been selected for the most recent amnesty. 

According to information from his family Rustam Usmanov is in very poor health and is suffering from severe nervous exhaustion. Some years ago, he stopped eating and the prison staff reportedly force-fed him, breaking most of his teeth in the process. He had false teeth made but they broke quickly and now he has problems eating. Rustam Usmanov suffers from high blood pressure and has fainted several times due to this. On these occasions he was transferred to the prison medical facility, where his relatives have visited him during prison visits. Rustam Usmanov is due to be released in February 2017, but AHRCA has received reports from his daughter that that prison staff have told him that if they “receive orders from above” they will extend his prison sentence. 

On 29 September 2016, Rustam Usmanov’s family were allowed to meet with him and they later met with the Supervisory Prosecutor of Kundrad district who travelled from a different region to meet them and who promised to look into Rustam Usmanov’s personally. On 18 September relatives also met with a representative of the complaints body established by Acting President Mirziyayev and were promised feedback within two or three weeks. 

The Uzbekistani authorities should: 
o Immediately and unconditionally release Rustam Usmanov from detention; o Ensure that Rustam Usmanov is given a medical examination and any necessary treatment or medication including dental care. 
b) Erkin Musaev
Erkin Musaev, (born 9 May 1967) was arrested on 31 January 2006 and charged with espionage, disclosure of state secrets, abuse of official authority and other offences believed to have been brought in retaliation for his work. He formerly worked for the Foreign Trade Department of the Ministry of Defense. His work included international cooperation programs with western governments, including USA and EU. In the mid-nineties Erkin Musaev participated in an exchange program sponsored by the US government to study English in the Institute of Languages of the US Army in Texas and in 1997–2001 he represented Uzbekistan at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels. After that he left government service to become Head of the UNDP project “Border management in Central Asia”. 

Erkin Musaev was arrested on 31 January 2006 and charged with espionage, disclosure of state secrets, abuse of official authority and other offences believed to have been brought in retaliation for his work. Following his arrest, there were serious concerns about gross procedural violations during the investigation.    After being found guilty in a trial that did not meet international fair trial standards, he was sentenced on 14 June 2006 to 16 years in prison and his prison sentence was later extended by another four years for alleged violations of prison rules. He is held in prison # 64/24 in the city of Bacabad, in eastern Uzbekistan.

Erkin Musaev has allegedly been subjected to torture while in prison, which has damaged his health. This has been reported to the special procedures of UN and to the UN Committee on Human Rights. Erkin Musaev’s fellow prisoners are reportedly not allowed to speak to him and he is made to carry out the most humiliating work.

A former cellmate reports that Erkin Musaev’s situation is dire and that he is regularly subjected to rude, abusive and cruel treatment, regularly threatened with physical violence and forced to testify against other people.

Erkin Musaev requires medical help, but reportedly has no access to it. In the past the International Committee of the Red Cross made several attempts to meet him but, according to our information, on the eve of these visits he was sent to a transit facility where the ICRC delegates could not visit him, in  poor conditions. He was reportedly held in this facility with other prisoners (mainly foreign nationals) for several months. According to our latest information, Erkin Musaev has been hounded by “lochmachi”, and fellow prisoners are forced to treat him as a “spy and foreign special services agent”. We fear that Erkin Musaev will not benefit from the upcoming amnesty. 

The Uzbekistani authorities should: 
o Immediately and unconditionally release Erkin Musaev from detention; o Ensure that he is given a medical examination and necessary treatment and medication;
c)  Muhammad Bekjanov
Former editor-in-chief of the banned opposition newspaper “Erk” Muhammad Bekzhanov has been in prison since 1999, when he was tortured until he confessed to “anti-state” offences and given a 15 year prison sentence. In 2012, he was sentenced to nearly five more years for allegedly violating prison rules. He is due to be released in January or February 2017. On 20 July 2016 Vasila Inoyatova, the head of the NGO Ezgulik (Compassion) and journalist Abdurakhmon Tashanov visited Muhammad Bekzhanov in Zarafshan prison. Prison officials were present during the meeting and no confidential conversations were possible.  

The Uzbekistani authorities should: 
o Immediately and unconditionally release Muhammad Bekzhanov from detention. 
d) Samandar Kukanov 
Seventy-two- year old former Member of Parliament and former director of the oil refinery in Chinaz was originally convicted on politically motivated grounds and has spent the last 23 years in prison. His prison sentence came to an end on 6 October 2016 but he was not released and instead was charged and convicted under Article 221 of disobeying prison rules. 

The Uzbekistani authorities should: 
o Immediately and unconditionally release Samandar Kukanov from detention. 
e) Ganikhon Mamatkhanov
Human rights defender Ganikhon Mamatkhanov was sentenced to four years and five months in prison in 2009 after being convicted on charges of fraud and bribery.  In March 2014 his sentenced was extended by two years and six months for alleged violation of prison rules and on 4 June 2016 another criminal case has been instigated against him and there are fears that his prison sentenced will be extended again. He is currently being held in “Tashturma” pending trial. 

The Uzbekistani authorities should: 
o Immediately and unconditionally release Samandar Kukanov from detention 
The authorities of Uzbekistan should: 

Put an end to persecution of human rights defenders, journalists and dissident voices; and immediately and unconditionally release all those who have been detained solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly including: Nuraddin Dzhumaniyazov, Fakhriddin Tillaev, Azam Farmonov, Isroilzhon Kholarov, Ganikhon Mamatkhanov, Muhammad Bekzhanov and Yusuf Ruzimurodov, Erkin Musaev, Gaibullo Djalilov, Matluba Kamilova, Chuan Mamatkulov, Aksam Turgunov, Solidzhon Abdurakhmanov, Gairat Mikhliboev, Dilmurod Saidov, Samandar Kukanov, Kudratbek Rasulov, Rustam Usmanov
Victims of torture
f) Case of the Ibodov brothers 
Brothers and Ilhom Rahim Ibodov were entrepreneurs who worked selling car parts in Bukhara in central Uzbekistan. On 16 August 2015 they were detained by security officials in Bukhara and charged with economic crimes. Serious violations took place during the inquiry, investigation and trial.. Ilhom and Rahim were held in a detention facility of the Bukhara Department of Internal Affairs for 25 days and were told on the first day that if they signed a confession they would be released quickly. Both brothers reportedly signed the confessions without reading them. However, they were then reportedly subjected to further torture and ill-treatment including beatings by four “lokhmachi’” (detainees used by police and SNB officers to carry out torture in pre-trial detention) in order to force them to give further details to substantiate their false confessions.

An initial remand hearing took place on 26 August 2015, and another on 12 September 2015 at Bukhara Court. Ilhom and Rahim’s family were reportedly not informed about the first remand hearing but at the second they noticed that Ilhom could barely walk into the courtroom and had to be supported by two officials, his head lolling onto one of their shoulders. The judge did not allow the relatives into the courtroom. 

On 10 September 2015 Rahim and Ilhom were transferred to the Bukhara pre-trial detention centre (SIZO) under the National Security Service (SNB). In the cellar of the SIZO, Rahim, who was being held in a cell opposite his brother’s, reportedly saw three high-ranking SNB officers beat Ilhom as he lay on the floor. During the beating one of the officials reportedly held Ilhom while another put his foot on his chest and told him “If we kill you no one will ever ask us the reason why.” Then they began to beat him again. Ilhom had already lost consciousness. Rahim Ibodov asked the doctor of the SIZO who was present to provide Ilhom with medical assistance but she allegedly refused, telling him “I’ll help him once he’s dead”. Ilhom died on 13 September 2015. When the brothers were kept in the NSS institutions, one of them, Ilhom Ibodov, he died from wounds and injuries sustained as a result of torture. The authorities did not conduct an   investigation into the death. 

On 15 February 2016 Bukhara court sentenced Rahim Ibodov to eight years in prison on the basis of evidence obtained through coercion. Rahim Ibodov is currently being held in prison colony UA 64/3 in Tavaksai village, Bostanlyk district of Tashkent region.

On 1 October 2016 Rahim Ibodov was allowed a two day meeting with his mother and his wife who reported that Rahim looks noticeably thinner and is depressed. After this meeting, it was reported that Rahim had been taken to the prison hospital where, on 14 October, his mother and sister went to visit him but were not allowed to see him. The hospital staff said that Rahim had a scratch on his hand and that after a week he’d be sent back to the prison colony. Rahim’s sister was refused permission to visit him three times as she currently does not have a passport (She handed the passport into the passport office to get permission to leave the country). The lack of a passport means that it is difficult for her to travel and also provides the prison administration wtih formal grounds to refuse her permission to visit her brother. It is possible that her passport was deliberately confiscated in order to prevent her passing information to international observers about her brother’s situation.

The Uzbekistani authorities should: 
  • Ensure that a thorough, impartial and independent investigation is conducted into the circumstances of Ilhom Ibodov’s death and into the reports of torture of Rahim Ibodov. In addition, Rahim Ibodov’s criminal case should be reviewed in a fair trial and all evidence obtained under duress should be excluded. The Uzbekistani authorities should take all measures to ensure that the Rahim Ibodov and his family are protected from reprisals.
g) Oblokul Saidov
Oblokul Saidov is being held in prison 64/3 in Tavaksay, Tashkent region. He was reportedly paralyzed after torture in pre-trial detention. Oblokul Saidov was initially convicted under Article 159 (anti-constitutional offences) and has twice had his sentence extended under Article 221. Despite being disabled he has not benefitted from amnesty nor has an investigation been carried out into allegations of torture in pre-trial detention. 

The Uzbekistani authorities should: 
  • Ensure that a thorough, impartial and independent investigation is conducted into reports of torture of Oblokul Saidov, and make the findings public. 
  • Ensure that Oblokul Saidov is provided with the necessary medical treatment and medicine. 
Misuse of Interpol Mechanisms: 
h)  Natalya Bushueva 
Uzbekistan’s government continues to misuse Interpol mechanisms and to include citizens on the international wanted list for politically motivated reasons. 

Natalya Bushueva (born 19 February 1974) is a former correspondent of "Deutsche Welle" who reported on the Andijan events in 2005. She lives in Sweden, where she received refugee status and citizenship. In 2007, a criminal case was initiated against her for tax evasion. On 19 July 2016 Natalya Bushueva flew on holiday from Stockholm to Tel Aviv through Moscow. At Sheremetyevo airport she had to wait in the transfer zone for her flight to Tel Aviv. At passport control, she was told to speak to a police officer to explain the situation. Natalya Bushueva was taken to a separate room and told that she was on the Interpol international wanted list at the request of Uzbekistan. This is the first she knew about being on the international wanted list.  Russian border officials took copies of her Swedish passport and plane ticket. Natasha Bushueva explained that she was a refugee in Sweden and an official told her to write a statement saying that she would return to Uzbekistan voluntarily and that on return she would report to Murabad district department of internal affairs in Tashkent. The official said that they had to prove to the Uzbekistani authorities that she had undertaken to return. Natasha Bushueva did this, saying that she would return to Uzbekistan on 22 August, and she was allowed to board her connecting flight. On 1 August she returned to Sweden via a different route.

It is estimated that at least forty civil society activists from Uzbekistan, many of whom have refugee status are on the Interpol wanted list.

The Uzbekistani authorities should:
  • Refrain from using Red Notices and other INTERPOL alerts in ways that violate INTERPOL’s political neutrality and its commitment to respect human rights, and particularly refrain from using Red Notices against human rights defenders and journalists.
Harassment of defence lawyer: 
i) Polina Braunerg
Polina Braunerg (born: 11 October 1948), is a lawyer and is disabled.  She has acted as defence lawyer to several persons imprisoned on politically motivated charges in Uzbekistan including human rights defenders Fakhriddin Tillaev and Nuraddin Dzhumaniyazov. She also acted in defence of former political prisoner Murad Dzhuraev, Muhammad Bekzhanov and others. On 12 November 2014 Pauline Braunerg handed in a request to travel abroad to the Ministry of the Interior. In December 2014 she was informed that her exit visa was denied.  In February 2016 she reapplied for an exit visa and in July was given back the passport and put under pressure to write a statement saying she withdrew her application for the exit visa. She has been refused permission to leave Uzbekistan due to her professional activity as a lawyer; has to remain in the Tashkent region and is stopped when she tries to travel elsewhere in Uzbekistan. Polina Braunerg she has received threatening phone calls in the past and is under physical surveillance.

The Uzbekistani authorities should: 
  • Lift travel bans against journalists, human rights defenders and human rights lawyers, including Polina Braunerg in order that she may travel abroad for medical treatment.
Public Smear campaign on social media 
j) Daniil Kislov and Nadejda Atayeva
The news of the death of Islam Karimov was published first by the international news agency Fergana.Ru  and was quickly picked up by other media outlets. The editor-in-chief of Fergana.Ru Daniil Kislov and the president of AHRCA Nadejda Atayeva were amongst the most active commentators on the political situation in Uzbekistan at this time.  

A member of the SNB (whose name is known) organized groups on social networks who attacked the accounts of Daniil Kislov, Fergana.Ru, Nadejda Atayeva and AHRCA. Clones of their pages were made on social networks and used to send provocative and threatening statements. Posts containing threats, obscene language and pictures with offensive phrases were published on the internet. After Nadejda Atayeva gave an interview to Euronews, her home address and phone number were published on the internet after which she received a series of death threats by phone at all times of day and night. In the first 10 days after the Euronews interview five provocative films containing unsubstantiated, libelous allegations about Nadejda Atayeva’s involvement in corruption were published on the internet. This campaign continues to this day although at a slower pace. Nadejda Atayeva has reported these developments to the French police and the information will be provided to the UN Special Rapporteur on the protection of the rights of human rights defenders.  Similar smear campaigns were also targeted against other exiled human rights defenders.