(Washington, DC) – United States officials should publicly press Uzbekistan to free political prisoners during Annual Bilateral Consultations on January 19, 2016, Human Rights Watch and the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia said today. The Uzbek foreign minister, Abdulaziz Komilov, is scheduled to meet with high-level officials at the US Department of State at a time of continuing US military engagement with Uzbekistan over its role in a global coalition to fight the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) and ongoing US military operations in Afghanistan.
- Immediately and unconditionally release all human rights defenders, journalists, political opponents, and other activists held on politically motivated charges;
- End the crackdown on activists and allow domestic and international human rights organizations to operate without government interference, including promptly re-registering international human rights groups such as Human Rights Watch that have been forced to cease operating in Uzbekistan;
- Take meaningful measures to end torture and ill-treatment and the accompanying culture of impunity, including by implementing in full the recommendations of the UN special rapporteur on torture, the Committee Against Torture, and the Human Rights Committee;
- Ensure genuine media freedom, stop harassment of journalists, and allow domestic and international media outlets, including those that have been forced to stop operating to resume their work; grant accreditation to foreign journalists;
- Allow unhindered access for independent monitors, including 13 UN monitors who have been refused permission to visit, and implement recommendations by independent UN monitoring bodies;
- End forced labor in the cotton sector, and allow independent organizations and activists to conduct their own monitoring without harassment;
- End religious persecution, including decriminalizing peaceful religious activity, and ending the imprisonment of thousands of people for their nonviolent religious expression.