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Urgent Interventions

Uzbekistan: Opening of the trial against rights defender Dauletmurat Tajimuratov

URGENT APPEAL - THE OBSERVATORY

New information
UZB 001 / 0722 / OBS 063.1
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment /
Torture and ill-treatment
Uzbekistan
December 2, 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), has received new information and requests your intervention in the following situation in Uzbekistan.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed about the opening of the trial against Mr Dauletmurat Tajimuratov, who was abducted in June 2022 along with his relatives and has been arbitrarily detained ever since. Mr Tajimuratov is a lawyer, independent journalist, and defender of the rights of the Karakalpak national minority in Uzbekistan.

On November 28, 2022, Dauletmurat Tajimuratov appeared before the Bukhara Regional Criminal Court for the first hearing in his criminal trial on the following charges:

  • “Intentional grievous bodily harm” (Article 104, paragraph 3(a) of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan);
  • “Conspiracy to seize power or overthrow the constitutional order” (Article 159 paragraph 4 of the same Code);
  • “Theft by embezzlement or misappropriation at a large scale” (Article 167, paragraph 3(a) of the same Code);
  • “Legalisation of proceeds of criminal activity” (Article 243 of the same Code);
  • “Organisation of mass riots accompanied by violence” (Article 244, paragraph 3 of the same Code);
  • “Preparation and dissemination of materials containing threat to public security and public order” (Article 244-1, paragraph 1(a, b, g) of the same Code).

The articles under which Mr Tajimuratov is accused carry penalties of up to 8, 10 and 15 years in prison. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, he remained detained in pre-trial detention centre No. 11 in the city of Urgench, Khorezm region.

The Observatory notes that the judge hearing the case, Mr Yelubay Abibullayev, was criticised by Mr Tajimuratov in a video the latter published on his YouTube channel in November 2021 denouncing the judge’s alleged involvement in a corruption case. This creates a conflict of interest and raises concerns over the fairness and impartiality of the trial.

Mr Tajimuratov is being tried along with 21 individuals who participated or allegedly intended to participate in the July 2022 Karakalpak massive protests over the Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev’s proposed amendments to the Constitution of Uzbekistan, including the removal of the autonomous status of the Republic of Karakalpakstan. The protests were met with a brutal crackdown on civil society in the autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan, as well as the imposition of a one-month regional state of emergency and an Internet shutdown in the above-mentioned autonomous Republic.

The Observatory recalls that Mr Tajimuratov was abducted on June 30, 2022 by alleged officers of the Uzbekistan National Security Service from his home in the city of Nukus, along with his wife, two brothers and 8-year-old daughter. Earlier on the same day, he and his nephew had been arbitrarily arrested following Mr Tajimuratov’s public announcement to Nukus residents about a peaceful and officially authorised protest over the constitutional amendments announced by the President of Uzbekistan. Mr Tajimuratov was released within two hours, and his nephew soon afterwards.

Upon his release, Mr Tajimuratov published a video denouncing the mistreatment he was subjected to in detention, including beatings on his chest. Shortly after the publication of this video, he and his family were abducted. While his wife and minor daughter were promptly released, Mr Tajimuratov’s whereabouts remained unknown for over a month until early August 2022, when officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs orally informed his wife that he was detained in a National Security Service prison in Urgench. On September 6, 2022, Uzbek media reported that Mr Tajimuratov was held in pre-trial detention centre No.11 in Urgench. The Observatory could not confirm whether Mr Tajimuratov has been allowed to receive family visits while in detention.

Mr Tajimuratov’s two brothers were sentenced to seven and 15 days of administrative arrest, respectively, following their abduction. Both were held in overcrowded cells, subjected to beatings, including on their genital area, and denied access to adequate food. One of them was hospitalised with heart problems following his release.

The Observatory condemns the ongoing arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Dauletmurat Tajimuratov, and calls on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release him and guarantee his right to a fair trial during the judicial proceedings in his case. The Observatory further condemns the arbitrary arrest and the alleged acts of torture and ill-treatment against his two brothers, which seem to be retaliatory measures against Mr Tajimuratov.

The Observatory further urges the authorities to carry out independent and thorough investigations into all human rights violations perpetrated against peaceful protesters, human rights defenders and independent journalists since June 30, 2022, in the autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan, including the abduction of Mr Tajimuratov and his relatives.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Uzbekistan asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Daultermurat Tajimuratov, his relatives and all human rights defenders and independent journalists in the Uzbekistan;

ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Dauletmurat Tajimuratov, as his detention is arbitrary since it only aims at punishing him for his legitimate human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level – against Dauletmurat Tajimuratov and all human rights defenders in Uzbekistan, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iv. Guarantee Dauletmurat Tajimuratov’s rights to due process and fair trial during the judicial proceedings in his case;

v. Carry out immediate, thorough, transparent and independent investigations into the abduction of Daultermurat Tajimuratov and his relatives, as well as all the allegations of acts of torture and ill-treatment perpetrated against his brothers.

Addresses:

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Uzbekistan in your respective countries.

***

Paris-Geneva, December 2, 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.

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