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Uzbekistan Should Investigate Claims of Ill-Treatment, Torture

Blogger’s Claims Highlight Ongoing Police Abuse, Coercive Tactics

Abduqodir Muminov in the defendant's cage in a courtroom in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, July 2023. © 2023 Public Domain

Last week, Uzbek blogger Abduqodir Muminov alleged in court that he was tortured while in detention.

During an appeal hearing, Muminov alleged that police “electrocuted my body, kicked and crushed my genitals, repeatedly hit my leg with a special baton … [and] broke my rib.” In August, Muminov was sentenced to seven years and three months in prison on multiple charges, including bribery and extortion. His sentence was upheld on appeal.

Muminov’s allegations fit a broader, and ongoing, pattern of abuse in Uzbekistan.

The Karakalpak lawyer and blogger, Dauletmurat Tazhimuratov, who in January was sentenced to 16 years in prison for his alleged role in the Karakalpakstan protests in July 2022, recently described to his lawyer the inhumane conditions in which he’s being held. At trial, he described how police stood on his head, causing him to lose consciousness.

Fazilhoja Arifhojaev, a Muslim blogger who in January 2022 was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years on charges of threatening public security, told his lawyer that while in pretrial detention police handcuffed him to a pipe and made him sit in a stress position for nearly 12 hours, causing him excruciating pain.

Human Rights Watch has documented other cases in recent years in which police allegedly ill-treated and tortured people in pretrial detention, who were subsequently prosecuted for religious extremist-related offenses. Sardor Rakhmankulov, a 22-year-old who was prosecuted in early 2023 for sharing a Muslim religious song via social media, alleged that police suffocated him with a plastic bag and took turns kicking him.

In each of these cases, Uzbek authorities have failed to investigate or hold abusers accountable.

Early on in his tenure, in November 2017, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed a decree stating that evidence obtained through torture is inadmissible in court. In his February 2021 address to the UN Human Rights Council, the president reiterated his commitment to tackling torture and noted plans to ensure torture would have no statute of limitations.

Despite the president’s promises, allegations like Muminov’s, Tazhimuratov’s, and Arifhojaev’s and many other reports show that torture and ill-treatment remain widespread in places of detention and that impunity for such criminal abuse is the norm.


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