Statement on Uzbekistan
Delivered by Ambassador David T. Johnson
to the Permanent Council, Vienna
July 12, 2001
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The United States is deeply concerned by reports that Uzbek human rights activist and former member of Parliament Shovruk Ruzimuradov recently died in police custody, reportedly after being arrested for possessing religious party leaflets, drugs, and gun cartridges.
He was denied legal counsel and contact with his family and reportedly was subjected to torture and beating. We note that, although he was a practicing Muslim, he was also a member of a secular independent political party. Human rights advocates claim the evidence used against him was planted.
If it is determined that Uzbek police planted evidence and engaged in mistreatment of him while he was in their custody, we ask that the Government of Uzbekistan hold legally accountable those responsible for such acts.
Torture of detained persons is a violation, not only of Uzbekistan’s constitution, but also of the universal declaration of human rights, the United Nations Convention Against Torture, as well as OSCE principles to which Uzbekistan has pledged its adherence.
We are additionally concerned that 73 Uzbek citizens from villages on the Uzbek‑Tajik border were recently convicted of collaborating with the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and in that process were abused, forced to confess, and denied legal counsel from the time of their arrest last summer until shortly before the trial.
We are troubled by reports that all but one of the defendants renounced their confessions, which they had given under torture, and by reports that no evidence was introduced to support the guilt of any of the defendants. Indeed, one of the detainees died in police custody, reportedly from mistreatment.
We are troubled that authorities have declined to investigate these claims of torture and request that they do so.
We would like to note that all evidence available to us tends to support the conclusion that, far from being in league with the IMU, these villagers acted responsibly during the incursions last summer and remain loyal to the government of President Karimov.
We would like to reiterate our assessment that repressive measures of the Uzbek Government against its own citizens do not create conditions that are conducive to fighting terrorism. These recent events highlight the weaknesses inherent in Uzbekistan’s system of justice, and do not allay fears by the international community that the cases against the defendants were political rather than criminal in nature.
Incidents such as these present a serious obstacle to the development of beneficial relations between Uzbekistan and the United States and the rest of the international community.
We therefore call upon the Government of Uzbekistan to undertake a full, fair and impartial investigation into the detention and death of Mr. Ruzimuradov and the treatment and defense of the recently convicted 73 villagers.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.