Background Briefing


Assertion “Uzbekistan has fully implemented the recommendations contained in the report of the Special Rapporteur on torture…”

This assertion is an outright untruth. Few areas of the Uzbek government’s noncompliance with recommendations by international expert bodies are as well documented as that relating to its torture record. As accounted for in detail in the UN special rapporteur on torture’s March 2006 report “Follow-up to the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur,”7 there has been no fundamental change in the widespread use of torture or in policies and practices that could effectively combat it. Authorities have persisted in their refusal to acknowledge the main conclusion of the special rapporteur, that “torture or similar ill-treatment is systematic,” and have not taken any meaningful steps on most of the special rapporteur’s recommendations, including that a clear public statement at the highest levels be made to condemn torture and declare an end to the culture of impunity, and that legislation providing for and implementing habeas corpus (judicial review of detention) be enacted. The government’s 2004 National Action Plan on torture remains a general plan to implement the Convention against Torture rather than one directly linked to the special rapporteur’s recommendations. Overall, the actions contained in the plan are vague and linked to unnecessarily attenuated timelines, focusing on roundtables and conferences rather than on implementation of concrete reforms.

The government’s failure to engage in meaningful reform in the area of combating torture is, however, perhaps most compellingly evidenced by the continuing serious, credible allegations of torture being perpetrated during investigation and pre-trial custody, as well as in prisons. As recently as June this year UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Manfred Nowak, stated that “the mandate… continues to receive serious allegations of torture by Uzbek law enforcement officials, which are regularly transmitted to the Government for clarifications and urgent action.”8

Human Rights Watch also continues to receive serious allegations of torture. For example, in two separate trials monitored by Human Rights Watch in the first half of 2006, defendants testified about having been tortured in pre-trial detention. In one, the presiding judge stated in his ruling that he had found no evidence of torture and concluded that the defendants had alleged ill-treatment only to avoid responsibility for their crimes. The judge presiding over the other trial did not mention the torture allegations at all. In both trials, all defendants were found guilty of having established an illegal religious group with the aim of overthrowing the government and establishing an Islamic state.

7 “Follow-up to the recommendations made by the Special Rapporteur,” presented as an addendum to the special rapporteur’s annual report to the UN Commission on Human Rights, March 21, 2006, E/CN.4/2006/6/Add.2.

8 Letter from Manfred Nowak, UN special rapporteur on torture, to Human Rights Watch, June 14, 2006.