Uzbekistan: Arbitrary detention and criminalisation of Aziz Yusupov
URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY
UZB 002 / 1022 / OBS 074
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment /
At risk of torture and ill-treatment
October 4, 2022
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your intervention in the following situation in Uzbekistan.
Description of the situation:
The Observatory has been informed about the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Aziz Yusupov. Mr Yusupov is an independent journalist, former political prisoner and human rights defender. He has been involved in assisting and monitoring the situation of prisoners in Uzbekistan, focusing on most vulnerable groups such as women, children and political prisoners.
On September 25, 2022, Mr Yusupov was summoned to a police station in the city of Ferghana and arbitrarily detained. Two days before his detention, on September 23, 2022, Mr Yusupov submitted a visa application at the Polish embassy in Tashkent to attend the Human Dimension Conference from September 26 to October 7, 2022. This conference is organised by the Polish OSCE Chairmanship with support from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in Warsaw . Mr Yusupov intended to use the platform to present information about the human rights situation in Uzbekistan.
On September 27, the Ferghana Criminal Court ordered a three-month period of pre-trial detention for Mr Yusupov on the trumped-up charge of “possession of drugs” (Article 276 of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan). This offense is punishable by up to five years of imprisonment. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Mr Yusupov remains detained in Fergana detention centre, where he faces high risk of torture and ill-treatment.
The Observatory recalls that in 2016 Mr Yusupov had already been unfairly sentenced to eight years of prison on drug-related charges and tortured while in detention in retaliation to the activities of his brother Farrukh Yusupov, a prominent independent journalist who published a series of reports uncovering alleged cases of corruption involving family members of the former President of Uzbekistan Mr Islam Karimov. Mr Aziz Yusupov was released from prison on parole early in February 2019 after international pressure due to poor health.
The Observatory condemns the arbitrary detention and accusations against Mr Yusupov, as they seem to be only a retaliatory measure against him for his human rights activities. The timing of Mr Yusupov’s arrest also shows the authorities intentions to prevent him from speaking out about human rights in Uzbekistan in the Human Dimension Conference.
The Observatory urges the authorities of Uzbekistan to guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Mr Yusupov, to drop all charges against him and to immediately and unconditionally release him.
Please write to the authorities of Uzbekistan asking them to:
- Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Mr Aziz Yusupov, and all human rights defenders and independent journalists in the Uzbekistan;
- Respect and protect Mr Aziz Yusupov’s right to be free from torture and other ill-treatment;
- Immediately release and drop all charges against Mr Aziz Yusupov and put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against him;
- Ensure that Aziz Yusupov and all human rights defenders in Uzbekistan can safely conduct their legitimate human rights activities in the country and abroad without any hindrance or fear of reprisals.
- Mr. Shavkat Mirziyoyev, President of Uzbekistan. E-mail: email@example.com
- Mr. Pulat Razzakovich Bobojonov, Minister of Internal Affairs. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
- Mr. Nigmatilla Yuldoshev General Prosecutor of the Republic of Uzbekistan. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Mr. Vladimir Norov, Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs. E-mail: email@example.com
- Ms. Feruza Eshmatova, Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
- H.E. Mr. Ulugbek Lapasov, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Uzbekistan to the United Nations in Geneva. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- H.E. Mr. Dilyor Khakimov, Ambassador, Embassy of Uzbekistan to Belgium. Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Uzbekistan in your respective countries.
Paris-Geneva, October 3, 2022
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
- E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
- Tel OMCT: + 41 22 809 49 39
- Tel FIDH: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
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