Uzbekistan: Human Rights in the OSCE Region: Europe, Central Asia and North America, Report 2006

Report
from International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights
Published on 27 Mar 2007
Uzbekistan remained an authoritarian country ruled by President Islam Karimov, where democratic norms and international human rights standards were routinely violated.

Throughout the year, the Uzbek authorities continued their efforts to prevent the circulation of information contradicting official policies, in particular with respect to the Andijan events in May 2005, when hundreds of civilians died as a result of the indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force by security and law enforcement officials who were pursuing a group of armed people. (1) Thus, the vicious crackdown on independent journalists, human rights defenders and other critics of the regime that was launched in the immediate aftermath of the events continued, further limiting the narrow space left for exercising freedom of expression, association and assembly.

While new show trials were carried out against "religious extremists" blamed for the unrest in Andijan, the authorities continued to reject calls for an independent international investigation into the events and failed to bring to justice those responsible for the killings of civilians. The international community failed to effectively take the Karimov regime to task for the Andijan massacre and the developments in its aftermath, and the November decision by the EU to weaken the mostly symbolic sanctions imposed on the country in 2005 was particularly disappointing.

The lack of independence of the judiciary, widespread corrupt practices and arbitrary action by law enforcement authorities remained major concerns. Torture and ill-treatment continued to be widely used to force defendants to "confess" to crimes of which they were accused, and the death penalty remained in use.

Note:

(1) This chapter is largely based on reports to the IHF from the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (HRSU), an IHF Cooperating Organization, and Uzbek Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, as footnoted throughout the text. See also the chapter on Central Asia in part two of this report.