(Berlin) – A Kyrgyzstan court on January 24, 2017, upheld a life sentence for a human rights defender, Azimjon Askarov, despite the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s ruling that he should be released and his conviction quashed, Human Rights Watch said today. The court decision reinforces a severe miscarriage of justice in Kyrgyzstan.
The Chui Regional Court in Bishkek upheld Askarov’s life sentence, imposed following his unjust conviction in 2010 for “organizing mass disturbances” and “inciting interethnic hatred” leading to the killing of a policeman in Bazar-Korgon, southern Kyrgyzstan. Following the latest court ruling, Askarov, 66, declared he would protest by starting a hunger strike. Askarov’s lawyers said they would appeal to the Supreme Court.
“Azimjon Askarov should be released immediately,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Kyrgyzstan cannot in one breath say it seeks to uphold human rights, and then in the next, dismiss such basic international legal norms as fair trial, arbitrary detention, and the prohibition on torture.”