Uzbekistan
24.08.06
Urgent Interventions

Uzbekistan: Serious deterioration of the health condition of Mrs. Mukhtabar Tojibaeva

New information
UZB 001 / 0306 / OBS 026.2
Arbitrary detention / Fear for safety / Ill-treatments / Harassment
Uzbekistan

August 24, 2006


The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Uzbekistan.

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of the serious deterioration of the health condition of Mrs. Mukhtabar Tojibaeva, Head of the “Ardent Hearts’ Club”, a human rights organisation based in Margilan, in the Fergana Valley.

According to the information received, Mrs. Tojibaeva, who has been detained since July 2006 in a psychiatric service for mentally ill and drug-addicted persons in a women’s detention centre in Tashkent (See background information), has become extremely weak due to the very poor conditions of her detention. On several occasions, she managed to send alerting messages to her daughter, asking her to bring her some food. However, the penitentiary authorities have kept forbidding her to receive parcels with clothes or food.

Moreover, Mrs. Tojibaeva is not allowed to receive the visit of her relatives and lawyers. In particular, at the beginning of August 2006, her brother and two sisters, who came from Fergana to visit her, were denied access because of presumed works in the visit rooms. Mrs. Mukharran Tojibaeva, one of her lawyers, was also denied access to her client, although she had a mandate from the Court, on the motive that Mrs. Mukhtabar Tojibaeva did not ask to see her.

The Observatory is all the more concerned for her health that Mrs. Tojibaeva was allegedly forced to take some medication in July 2006, the content and effects of which were unknown. There is no information on whether she has been forced to take this medication again since then.

In addition to her very poor conditions of detention, the Observatory is concerned about the fact that her lawyers have been under constant pressure from the authorities, conducting Mrs. Dilafruz Nurmatova, one of them, to publicly declare on August 15, 2006 that she would stop defending Mrs. Tojibaeva because of serious fears for herself and her family’s integrity. Indeed, since her visit to Mrs. Tojibaeva on July 13, 2006, she had reportedly received warnings, had been watched closely, had been denied access to the cybercafé where she used to work, and her colleagues had been recommended not to talk to her. Moreover, she was threatened with death by a political leader of Fergana district.

Background information:

On October 7, 2005, Mrs. Tojibaeva was arrested at her home by sixteen officers from the Department of Home Affairs, before being charged with “extortion” under Article 165.2b of the Criminal Code, in connection with a dispute with one of her employees to whom she had lent a large sum of money that was to be repaid to her. It was when this employee visited Mrs. Tojibaeva’s home and returned some of the money that the security forces burst in her home. On December 24, 2005, numerous other charges were filed against Mrs. Tojibaeva.

On March 6, 2006, Mrs. Tojibaeva was sentenced to a eight-year term of imprisonment by the court of Dustobod, Urta Chirchik rayon court, in Tashkent oblast, on 17 different charges - mostly economic -, including “slander” (article 139.3 of the Criminal Code) and “membership of an illegal organisation” (article 244) on the grounds that the Ardent Hearts’ Club was not be registered under the “Law on Amendments to the Criminal Code and the Code of Administrative Liability concerning NGOs”, adopted on December 28, 2005.

The proceedings have reportedly been marred by numerous irregularities, in particular several violations of the right to a fair trial.

On July 7, 2006, Mrs. Tojibaeva was transferred from her cell in the Tashkent centre of detention to a psychiatric service for mentally ill and drug-addicted persons, in a women’s detention centre located in the Mirabad district, Tashkent. According to the authorities, this transfer was justified by the fact that Mrs. Tojibaeva had suffered a nervous breakdown after her trial.

On July 13, 2006, Mrs. Tojibaeva’s lawyer was allowed to meet with her client, who had her hands tied together. Mrs Tojibaeva did not explain the reasons why, as they were under observation. According to her lawyer, Mrs. Tojibaeva looked very weak and depressed. Since then, Mrs. Tojibaeva has not been allowed to receive other visits.

Actions required:

Please write to the Uzbek authorities urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mrs. Mukhtabar Tojibaeva;

ii. Release Mrs. Mukhtabar Tojibaeva immediately and unconditionally since her detention is arbitrary, and ensure that she has access to legal counsel and to the visits of her relatives;

iv. Put an end to any act of harassment against her lawyers as well as all human rights defenders in Uzbekistan;

v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially its article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”, article 12.2, which states that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration;

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Uzbekistan.

Addresses :

  • President of Uzbekistan, Islam Abduganiyevich Karimov, ul. Uzbekistanskaya 43, Rezidentsia prezidenta, 700163 Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan, Fax: +998 71 133 7258, E-mail: presidents_office@press-service.uz

  • Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Elyor Majidovich Ganiev, Respublika Uzbekistan; 700029 g. Tashkent; pl. Mustakillik, 5; Ministerstvo inostrannykh del RU, S.S., Uzbekistan, Fax: + 998 71 139 15 17

  • Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights, Sayora Rashidova, ul. Xalqlar Dostligi 1, 700035 Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan, Fax: +998 71 139 85 55, E-mail: office@ombudsman.gov.uz

  • Chairman of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Ubaydulla Mingbaev, Respublika Uzbekistan; 700183 g. Tashkent; ul. Abdulla Kodiri, 1; Verkhovny Sud Respubliki Uzbekistan

  • General Prosecutor of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Rashidjon Hamidovich Kodirov, ul. Gulyamova 66, 700047 Tashkent, Republic of Uzbekistan, Fax: +998 71 133 39 17, E-mail: prokuratura@lawyer.com

  • National Centre for Human Rights, Senator Akmal Saidov Natsionalny tsentr po pravam cheloveka, 5/3, Mustakillik Maidoni, g. Tashkent, Respublika Uzbekistan. 700029, Fax: + 998 71 139 13 56 / 45 16, E-mail: office@nchr.uz

  • Ambassador of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Permanent Mission of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the United Nations in Geneva, PO Box 1853, 1215 Geneva 15, Switzerland, Fax: +4122 799 43 02, E-mail: uzbekistan@bluewin.ch

  • Ambassador Mr. Vladimir Norov, Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan in Brussels, 99 av. F.D.Roosevelt, 1050 Ixelles, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 672 39 46


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

***
Paris – Geneva, August 24, 2006

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
Email : Appeals@fidh-omct.org
Tel et fax FIDH : + 33 1 43 55 55 05 / 33 1 43 55 18 80
Tel et fax OMCT : +41 22 809 49 39 / 41 22 809 49 29
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