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The process by which law enforcement agents carry out the arrest, detention, and interrogation of independent Muslims involves a series of violations of due process and other basic rights. Save for exceptional cases, criminal suspects are kept in custody prior to trial. Uzbekistan’s legal system does not allow for habeas corpus, or judicial review of arrest.688 Police and security agents exploit this legal void by carrying out unsanctioned detentions, illegal searches, and planting or fabricating evidence to justify arrests. They also deny detainees the right to legal counsel, fail to notify their families of their detention, and then isolate them from their families.689 In addition, the torture of independent Muslim detainees has become an unmistakable element of the campaign against independent Islam. Police and security agents use torture to coerce confessions and testimony from detainees and witnesses, in violation of Uzbekistan’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.690 This chapter documents these abuses during the preliminary investigation phase, before suspects are formally charged, when the most severe abuse takes place. Due process violations that occur during investigation: unsanctioned arrests and searches, the planting of evidence, incommunicado detentions, and the denial of access to counsel are described in “Unsanctioned Arrests, Searches, and Planting of Evidence.” “Torture and Mistreatment in Pre-trial Detention” presents evidence of torture of independent Muslim detainees in pre-trial custody.

Agents from the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ Department for Combating Corruption, Racketeering, and Terrorism, and the ministry’s special forces (OMON), have taken the lead in searches, detentions, interrogations, and torture of independent Muslims.691 As the testimony of numerous witnesses indicates, the National Security Service is also involved in this campaign and in particular the torture of Muslim detainees.

Unsanctioned Arrests, Searches, and Planting of Evidence

The right to protection from unlawful and arbitrary interference in one’s privacy, family, and home is set out in international legal instruments. In particular, articles 9 and 16 of the ICCPR. The General Comment to article 16 states that, “Searches of a person's home should be restricted to a search for necessary evidence and should not be allowed to amount to harassment.”692

Domestic law in Uzbekistan similarly sets out guidelines for law enforcement in conducting detentions and searches.693 Uzbekistan’s Criminal Procedure Code stipulates that, except in cases of particular urgency, searches must be sanctioned by a warrant from an interrogator, investigator, or court prior to being carried out. The warrant must be presented to the subject and should declare specifically what is being sought and who is accused of possession of material relevant to a case. Persons presented with such an order are to be given the opportunity to voluntarily hand over the materials being sought. Uzbekistan’s law also provides that subjects of a search have the right to be present during all stages of the police investigation, to have any comments recorded in the search report, and to have witnesses present during the search. It states that law enforcement officials must also have due cause to carry out a detention. Uzbek police must identify themselves upon detaining someone, including by providing identification documents to the detainee upon request.

The reality of the police conduct of searches and detentions or arrests departs radically from the guidelines in the law books. Police have consistently violated due process in conducting arrests and searches of independent Muslims. Officers not only fail or refuse to identify themselves, but often take measures to disguise their identity, such as by wearing black ski masks during raids. Charges brought subsequent to a detention often have only a remote connection to the purpose used initially to justify searching a home or placing someone in custody. The laws on search and seizure are routinely undermined, as when police conduct searches without a warrant, without announcing themselves or giving any declaration regarding the materials being sought. In flagrant violation of due process is the regular police practice of planting evidence on a person or in his or her home in order to justify a detention. Measures meant to protect the subjects of a search, such as recourse to comment in the search report and the right to have witnesses present are often not complied with; and in many cases police simply force the subjects of a search to relinquish these rights.

Contrary to the spirit of Uzbekistan’s domestic law and the stipulations of international law, police and security forces also harass and intimidate the subjects of searches and detentions. The force deployed to conduct arrests and raids merits mention here. Uniformed officers and armed agents in civilian clothes typically work together; soldiers are used to block off entire neighborhoods during raids on private homes. The raids themselves have often been conducted at night. Masked armed officers in dark clothes scale the walls of domestic courtyards and invade family homes, often in the presence of small children. The operations have been conducted as though the suspects were heavily armed and militarily organized. In many cases, however, even after one or more thorough police searches, the suspects are found to “possess” perhaps a few bullets, a lone hand grenade, a religious magazine, or some leaflets.

  • Police used the tactics outlined above when they stormed the home of Imam Abdurakhim Abdurakhmonov well after midnight on June 18, 1998. According to an eyewitness, some ten to fifteen armed officers in civilian clothes climbed over the wall into the family courtyard, broke into the house, and pulled the imam from his bed.694

  • The mother of one young man tried along with fourteen others in December 1998 on religion-related charges, in a case that came to be known as “the Andijan 15," recalled her terror the day police raided her home to arrest her son. She told Human Rights Watch that before dawn one day in April 1998, an entire busload of armed and uniformed OMON officers stormed the family home and surrounded the area. They arrested the woman’s son from his place of work nearby, but continued to occupy the house until evening. Without showing any warrant for a search, the OMON officers ransacked the premises, tore up floorboards, and confiscated five books of hadith in Arabic.695

Arrests without Warrant

Security agents carrying out arrests of independent Muslims have often lied about their purpose. They have stated, for instance, that a person was being taken in for “informal questioning” or was needed as a witness in a case. This obviates the need for an arrest warrant, quiets relatives’ protests, and buys time before the family starts making inquiries regarding the detainee’s status, whereabouts, and physical condition.

  • When Ministry of Internal Affairs officers took Imam Iuldashev into the ministry’s custody in February 1999, they told him that he was being taken in for informal questioning and would be released promptly.696 Upon arrival at the ministry, Iuldashev was beaten and placed under arrest on charges of illegal possession of narcotics.697

  • One woman whose son was arrested in May 2000 told Human Rights Watch, “The police came and said they just wanted to question him, to show him some photographs because he had witnessed a murder.”698 The woman’s son did not serve as a witness in any murder trial and was instead arrested and convicted for violation of laws against unregistered religious activity.699

  • “He was taken on February 10, 2000, at around 5:00 or 6:00 a.m. They said he would be back at 3:00. It was four days before we even found out where he was,” recalled a relative of one of fifteen men arrested in Tashkent for studying Islam in private and convicted on charges of anti-state activity in November 2000.700

  • The mother of one religious Muslim prisoner described her son’s arrest in his home in Tashkent in late 1999, “…They took him and said it would be only for one hour. The next day I went to the station. They opened a door to let me hear that he was alive….”701

Unsanctioned Searches

In some cases the arresting officers show a search or arrest warrant, but in many cases they do not. Identifying documents are sometimes shown, sometimes not. The officers often act with violence toward unarmed relatives of the person they have come to detain. Detainees and family members are forced, through threats, to sign search reports confirming what officers have done and what they have supposedly found. Relatives are seldom given a copy to keep for future reference or use in legal proceedings.

During earlier stages of the campaign against independent Muslims, the courts regularly convicted defendants based on the claims made by police that they had found narcotics, weapons, or ammunition in the defendants’ homes or on their person. In more recent years, such evidence continues to be produced and used to justify arrest, but has sometimes been discarded and excluded from the criminal case once police have secured a confession.702 In order to verify that evidence has been “found” at the suspect’s home, police sometimes bring their own witnesses for use in court.

  • Police forced their way into the home of Abdurashid Isakhojaev and failed to present his wife with a warrant certifying their right to search the premises.703 In the absence of witnesses, the officers then claimed to find a grenade in the home; this was used to justify Isakhojaev’s arrest—which had actually taken place hours earlier.704

  • According to eyewitnesses, thirteen armed SNB officers dressed in camouflage raided the Andijan home of Shukhrat Parpiev on April 19, 1998. The officers failed to produce a warrant to search the home or to summon independent witnesses to observe the operation.705 Persons close to Parpiev told Human Rights Watch that the SNB officers searched the house for nine hours, until one officer planted four bullets and one wire meant for explosives in the family home.706 Family members witnessed the officer’s actions and called out to alert Parpiev’s father.707 The planted evidence was used to justify Parpiev’s arrest, but the charges were later dropped when the case went to court.708

Human Rights Watch received reports from rights activists in the Fergana Valley and Tashkent that men feared the planting of false evidence by police to such an extent that some resorted to sewing up the pockets of their pants. During its research into arrests of independent Muslims in the Fergana Valley in 1998, Human Rights Watch also found that, “…men in that area tried to wear clothing without pockets to help deter such commonly used set-ups.”709 One young man detained by police in Tashkent in 1998 kept his hands in his pockets during police interrogation to avoid having contraband planted on him.710

  • Even crude planting of evidence has proven effective for police. The first time police arrested Shukhrat Abdurakhimov was on September 19, 1998. Officers entered the family home without a warrant and, searching the premises, claimed to find marijuana on his person.711 Authorities later claimed the search was part of a regular passport check in the area.712 The next day, Abdurakhimov’s relatives were told that he had escaped from police custody, a story they did not believe.713 Abdurakhimov reportedly came home from time to time and was in the family apartment on the night of April 12, 1999, when police raided the house and arrested him again.714 Arresting officers allegedly struck Abdurakhimov’s wife repeatedly. After taking Abdurakhimov away, police returned to search the family home, without producing a search warrant and refusing to identify themselves.715 An eyewitness to the search told Human Rights Watch, “I watched them ransack the apartment and they found nothing. Then I saw one man take a paper out of his sleeve, drop it among the children’s toys and then ‘find’ it and unwrap it. It had a bullet in it. He was in civilian clothes and he refused to identify himself.”716 Abdurakhimov’s mother, present during the search, accused the officer of wrongdoing and tried to snatch the bullet away from him, whereupon he grabbed the elderly woman, twisted her arm behind her back and threw her to the floor.717 The officers pulled the family’s religious books off the shelves and photographed them. They also asked Abdurakhimov’s mother where he had gotten his copy of the Koran and from whom.718 Officers wrote up a report of the search, claiming they had found marijuana on Abdurakhimov and religious books and one bullet in his home, and had the report signed by the witnesses they had brought along. The police investigator returned later to the Abdurakhimov home and forced the young man’s mother to sign the report as well, despite her objections that the evidence supposedly found had in fact been planted.719 The family was not given a copy of this report.

In August 1999 the Tashkent Province Court tried Shukhrat Abdurakhimov and two others on charges related to alleged membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir. Among the charges against Abdurakhimov were allegations of possessing marijuana and one bullet. The police held Abdurakhimov incommunicado for five months during which time he was interrogated and eventually signed a statement incriminating himself on the charges of illegal possession of narcotics and ammunition. He is currently serving a seventeen-year term in Jaslyk prison. In the court verdict against Abdurakhimov the judge noted that among other evidence of criminality police had found “eight notebooks with religious notes” in the young man’s home.720

  • The wife of one of the defendants in the Tashkent City Court trial of twelve men accused of Hizb ut-Tahrir membership in May 1999 similarly charged that evidence of drug possession had been falsified.721 She claimed she had never seen narcotics in her home and further noted that the judge in the case failed to ask where or how her husband had supposedly obtained the narcotics.722

The defendant’s wife described the incident and noted that the planting of evidence on her husband had been denounced by witnesses, in spite of police pressure. During the summer of 1998, she said, police had stopped her husband’s car, badly beaten him and some of his co-workers in the street, and then arrested them.723 Her husband, she said, felt police put something in his pants pocket. At the police station, he reportedly refused to take the planted evidence out of his pocket, stating that it did not belong to him. Eventually he removed the narcotics from his pocket, again insisting that the drugs were not his. Two strangers brought in off the street to serve as witnesses to the body search saw him remove the packet and heard his protests. They refused to sign the police report stating that drugs were found on the man.724 Police found their position unacceptable. The arrest had taken place at about 11:30 a.m. The witnesses were kept at the police station until 2:00 a.m. the next day, at which point they finally agreed to sign the police statement. In court, however, they testified that they had been threatened by police and frightened into signing the statement.725

Planting of Islamic Literature

Particularly after February 1999, police planted banned Islamic literature, often Hizb ut-Tahrir literature and the Al-Vai magazine, to incriminate independent Muslims, including those who were not affiliated with or sympathetic to the Hizb ut-Tahrir organization. This phenomenon seemed especially prevalent in the Namangan province of the Fergana Valley.

  • Following the June 1999 arrest of Hizb ut-Tahrir member Shoknoza Musaeva, Tashkent police conducted a search of her home without family members or witnesses present.726 During the search, which was videotaped, police allegedly planted Hizb ut-Tahrir books and leaflets, which they then claimed to find among Musaeva’s belongings.727 The possession of this literature along with the allegation that Musaeva used it to teach others the ideas of Hizb ut-Tahrir provided the basis of the state’s case against the twenty-nine-year-old woman.728 Musaeva was sentenced to seven years in prison.729

  • An eyewitness charged that police also planted Hizb ut-Tahrir literature in the home of Musaeva’s neighbor, who was arrested along with one of Musaeva’s brothers just two weeks after her own detention. Police claimed to have found the group’s literature in Mirabid Iakiaev’s home, but an eyewitness present during the police search told Human Rights Watch that officers found nothing incriminating.730 The eyewitness further stated that she saw the report that officers originally wrote at the scene attesting to having found nothing illegal.731 The later police claims were included in the indictment against Iakiaev but, interestingly, the Chirchik City Court found that the relevant charge—that Iakiaev possessed “materials containing ideas of religious extremism, separatism, or fundamentalism”—had not been proven during the trial. The judge, however, found Iakiaev guilty of anti-state activity and sentenced him to five years in prison.732

According to a rights activist in Fergana city, the majority of independent Muslims arrested in the Fergana province were charged with “Wahhabism” rather than membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir.733 He noted, however, that police officers and investigators often failed to distinguish between so-called Wahhabis and members of Hizb ut-Tahrir. For example, police planted Hizb ut-Tahrir leaflets on suspected “Wahhabis” to justify arrest. “Leaflets are more popular now than bullets or drugs,” the activist said, describing police tactics.734 In court, the accused were referred to as “Wahhabis” and not tried for Hizb ut-Tahrir membership.735

  • In May 1999 police arrested an elderly man from Namangan for “illegally going on Hajj” and accused him of Wahhabism. According to the man, officers planted Hizb ut-Tahrir leaflets in his house to justify the arrest. On the strength of police claims regarding the literature and testimony given by a witness whom the accused man said was a complete stranger, the Namangan Province Court sentenced him to three and a half years in prison on charges of anti-constitutional activity.736 The man was imprisoned in Almalik prison and later released under the 2001 presidential amnesty.737 Another Namangan man, who was also sent to prison for three years and subsequently released under presidential amnesty gave a similar account of local police planting leaflets in his home.738

Police have also frequently confiscated sanctioned religious texts—such as the Koran and works of Islamic scholar Al-Bukhari—and called them prohibited or “extremist” literature. Such materials, if used in prosecutions, has not generally been cited as evidence of criminality but rather of a general fanaticism in religious matters. In the cases reviewed by Human Rights Watch, sanctioned literature was usually returned to the family of a detainee after he had signed a self-incriminating statement.

Incommunicado Detention

Many of those arrested on religion-related charges have been kept for days and even months in the basements of police stations, where conditions were particularly harsh. They were held incommunicado, isolated from family visitors, legal counsel, fellow detainees, and any possible impartial police authorities. This in turn facilitated torture. The three cases described below illustrate this pattern of detention in basement cells:

  • Abdurashid Isakhojaev told his mother that police kept him in the basement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for the first twenty-four days of his detention in 1998. Isakhojaev alleged that officers tortured him while he was confined to the basement, causing serious injury.739

  • Accused of being a Wahhabi, Khusan Maksudov testified in court to his fear of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) basement, where he was held from July 21 to August 10, 2000. “When I was taken in on July 21, the next day, I heard a story that some people die in the MVD, and I saw a person who had lost consciousness during interrogation. Even before that, I heard a lot of rumors about the I was very afraid to be there [and] I admitted easily to anything they accused me of.…”740

  • A relative of accused Hizb ut-Tahrir member Ulmasbek Khakimov, arrested on December 15, 1998, alleged that police kept him in the basement of the Ministry of Internal Affairs for a month and a half.741 Police also kept his co-defendant, Danior Khojimetov, in the basement for the first month of pre-trial detention.742

Police routinely fail to notify families of religious detainees as to their relatives’ whereabouts. And even when a family is notified of a detainee’s whereabouts in custody or is told the identity of the arresting officers and is therefore able to deduce a detainee’s whereabouts, police and procuracy authorities routinely deny anyone access to the detainee. In addition to being an abuse in itself, preventing relatives from seeing detainees in custody increases the risk of torture. It also impedes a family’s efforts to arrange for legal counsel to protect the detainee’s rights during the initial investigation period. In various cases described above in this report, detainees have endured weeks or months incommunicado: Shukhrat Abdurakhimov, five months; Mirzakarim Avazov, seven months; Imam Abdurakhim Abdurakhmonov, two months; Komoliddin Sattarov, three months; and Gairat Sabirov, five months.

  • A relative of accused Hizb ut-Tahrir member Tolkhon Riksiev told Human Rights Watch that police had held the twenty-nine-year-old incommunicado for six months during pre-trial detention. Officials failed even to officially notify his family of his arrest or his whereabouts in custody.743

  • In November 1999 a relative of Dilmurod Juraev who witnessed his arrest told Human Rights Watch, “He was arrested two months ago and I am still looking for him... They took him from home and planted drugs on him, after they found nothing in a search of our house.”744

  • A relative of accused Hizb ut-Tahrir member Khikmat Rasulov recalled the family’s difficulty in locating the young man following his January 12, 1999 arrest by armed soldiers and plainclothes officers from Tashkent police headquarters: “We tried to go to the MVD and called [the police], but they never answered. After two to three weeks, I saw him in Tashkent prison.”745

The mother of one of Rasulov’s co-defendants related police obfuscation at the time of her son’s arrest. She said that when officers took him into custody on the night of February 20, 1999, they refused to show identification and said that they were simply taking him in for a few questions and would release him shortly. That night, his relatives went to their local police station and waited until 3:00 a.m., at which time officers said they would receive news at 5:00 a.m. At 5:00 a.m. the family was told that the young man had been taken to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. There, they were told to go to the Tashkent city police station. The officers at the Tashkent city police station told them to go back to Tashkent police headquarters. There, almost twenty-four hours after the young man’s arrest, at 11:00 p.m., the authorities told the family to come back the next day. Finally, on February 23, 1999, police investigator Ilias Umarzakov of Tashkent police headquarters acknowledged that he had the young man in custody, and that he was under arrest and would not be released.746

  • In at least one case, the whereabouts of a man taken into custody presumably on charges related to his religious belief or affiliation were never confirmed. Bahodir Hasanov, thirty-eight years old at the time of his arrest, was a French language instructor at the Alliance Francaise in Tashkent. Although not particularly pious himself, he came from a family of observant and strongly independent Muslims.747 Hasanov was reportedly taken by police from his home in Chirchik, just outside Tashkent, on July 17, 2000, and never seen or heard from again.748 When “F.F.” (not the person’s true initials), a person close to Hasanov, inquired at the National Security Services (SNB) headquarters in Tashkent regarding Hasanov’s whereabouts, an agency representative told him, “Find him yourself.”749

  • The mother of one young man branded a “Wahhabi” and arrested by special forces officers in Andijan in 1998 reported that the SNB and then the MVD in Tashkent held him incommunicado for three months, the entire duration of his pre-trial detention. She told Human Rights Watch, “After his one saw [him] at all. We were given no information and no visits with him. After three months, we heard from our neighbor that her son was also arrested and had told her that [my son] was in the basement of the SNB in Tashkent.”750 This did not resolve the problem, however: “At the SNB they refused to give us a visit with our son. After that, every month we went to Tashkent and were able to give him food and clothes, but we never got a meeting with him.”751

  • Komil Masudov was arrested on July 26, 1999. Police held him incommunicado for three months while family members frantically searched for him at the district police station, city police station, police headquarters, and National Security Service.752 Finally, a relative learned from the procuracy that he was being held at the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Tashkent and hired a lawyer for him.753 The lawyer was able to visit Komil and his sister, Shoknoza Musaeva, who was already in prison. The lawyer informed the Masudov family that those in pre-trial detention were being beaten regularly.754

  • A female relative of one of seventeen accused “Wahhabis” arrested for taking private religion classes described the lengths to which police investigator Khojaev of the Ministry of Internal Affairs was prepared to go to deny family members their right to visit.755 The Ministry of Internal Affairs held the young man in incommunicado custody for five months—the entire length of the preliminary investigation. During that time police compelled him to sign a self-incriminating statement. His wife was permitted to see him only after the investigation had finished. She told Human Rights Watch:

Later, I learned that I had the right to see my husband every month [once the investigation was finished] and so I called the investigator and told him that I had learned that I could see my husband. He asked who had told me that and I said ‘a neighbor’ and he let me go see my husband… Then the other neighbors [i.e. relatives of his co-defendants] found out about this and called the investigator, but he told them they were too late. Only [my husband] was visited twice.756

Sometimes police have refused to let relatives even provide food for the detainees in pre-trial custody, who otherwise are fed so little that their health is compromised.

  • Nakhmiddin Juvashev, convicted in 1999 for Hizb ut-Tahrir membership and then released on parole in August of that year, was re-arrested by police in August 2000. As of November 1, 2000, police had prevented all family members from visiting with Juvashev in custody and had allowed them to deliver food to the police station only three times. On October 31, Juvashev’s wife took the last of the family’s food to the Jizzakh province police station, where Juvashev was being held in the basement, but was told by guards that food could not be delivered to prisoners that day. Juvashev’s wife described the incident: “I cried and explained that this was the last of our food, that my children were going hungry and I had brought the last of the food in the house to my husband, so the officer finally took it, but I don’t know if he really gave it to my husband or not. The children have not eaten for two days now.”757

The relative of another detainee told Human Rights Watch that courthouse guards demanded 5,000 som from family members to pass on food while defendants were on trial.758

Access to Legal Counsel and Preparation of a Defense

Although Uzbek law provides for access to legal counsel from the moment of arrest, throughout investigations police frequently pressure detainees not to seek counsel. When detainees or their families attempt to engage an independent defense lawyer, police and investigators often simply refuse requests from the lawyer for access to his or her client, until the police have secured a confession from the accused. Police frequently pressure detainees or their families to accept the services of state-appointed lawyers who do not defend their client’s interests, and who are unlikely to lodge complaints against ill-treatment. Even when lawyers do gain access to clients, they do not have the right to freely arrange independent, objective forensic medical examinations that could provide evidence of torture.759

Police and procuracy officials are particularly wary of giving detainees time with their attorneys. Even when a detainee is permitted contact with relatives, police often deny access to his legal counsel of choice. In some cases, the investigator in charge denies a lawyer entry, or the family is told that the detainee has rejected legal counsel.760 Most often, access is simply delayed, through false statements about a detainee’s whereabouts in custody, health, or the stage of the investigation, until police have conducted all interrogation sessions and coerced a confession from the detainee. Police thereby prevent the attorney from being involved during the most crucial period in the investigation. These actions deprive the detainee of protection crucial to both his legal defense and his protection from torture. Police have threatened family members and used other methods to coerce detainees to accept state-appointed legal counsel that often amounts only to “shadow counsel,” that is, a signature on documents but no actual participation. Like all detainees in Uzbekistan, religious detainees are routinely denied their right to meet with legal counsel in private.

  • Following the arrest of Imam Iuldashev on July 23, 2000, his family engaged attorney Irina Mikulina, who went directly to the Ministry of Internal Affairs to meet with her client. Officers reportedly told her he had been transferred to Tashkent prison.761 Upon investigation, she found this to be false and returned to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, where she obtained unofficial confirmation that he was indeed being held there. As of August 2000, however, authorities had failed to issue any official notification of Iuldashev’s arrest or place of detention,762 and although his lawyer made repeated requests to see him, investigators refused to give her access.763 On or about August 9, investigators presented Mikulina with a document allegedly signed by Iuldashev, which stated that he rejected legal representation. Authorities forbade Mikulina to meet with her client to establish the authenticity of the document and confirm his choice not to be represented by legal counsel.764 The imam’s lawyer and relatives feared that Iuldashev had been physically coerced to reject a defense attorney.765

  • On Feruza Kurbanova’s fifth day of detention on charges of membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir, officers from the Tashkent Municipal Police Department instructed her to hire a defense lawyer. When she told the authorities that she did not have enough money to hire a lawyer and requested that a state lawyer be appointed to her, an officer responded, “In cases like yours, we don’t provide lawyers.”766 A state lawyer eventually attended some interrogation sessions, but the only legal advice he gave Kurbanova was that she sign blank pieces of paper as the investigators demanded.767

Kurbanova’s trial began on February 28, 2001, in the absence of any legal counsel. According to Kurbanova, she was questioned in court by the judge, who also failed to provide her with legal representation.768 At the second hearing, attended by Human Rights Watch as well as international media and diplomatic representatives, the judge began the trial again, as if the first hearing had never taken place. The judge read the charges against Kurbanova and repeatedly advised her of her right to an attorney, even announcing the delay of the proceeding until such time as a lawyer could be appointed and familiarized with the case.769 The judge later attended Kurbanova’s meeting with her state-appointed lawyer and instructed her to ask for forgiveness for her membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir.770

  • At his trial, one defendant accused of being a Wahhabi, Shukhrat Balikov, told the court that arresting officers denied his requests for a lawyer: “They said, ‘Why do you want a lawyer? You’ll die in prison anyway.’”771

  • At least five lawyers representing defendants in a group case spoke at trial about impediments to meeting with their clients. One attorney said:

Article 250 [of the criminal procedure code] says a lawyer can meet his defendant anytime in detention, but I was not allowed to have a separate meeting with my client. Most of [the defendants] met their lawyers only once or twice [and] in the company of police. Defendants were threatened that they shouldn’t be honest about conditions.772

The attorney who represented Gafurjon Toirov and one other co-defendant in the same trial added:

Today, my new defendant was beaten and forced to reject his lawyer…It’s no use to go and see defendants. They are so scared they can’t say the truth and the lawyers can’t help. Lawyers meet in the presence of investigators, and a defendant can’t open his mouth. Even if there are ten lawyers, with today’s existing regime, nothing will change. 773

The attorney’s words were remarkable given the pattern of intimidation against defense lawyers and general climate of fear generated by Uzbekistan’s criminal justice system.

The attorney for another defendant in that case, Otabek Makhmudbekov, stated in court, “He was detained on January 27, but I was allowed to start the case only on April 24. I wrote a letter to the ministry and got no reply. My complaints against the investigator remain without reply.”774 Meanwhile, the lawyer for yet another defendant, Gairat Sabirov, complained that his client was denied access to legal counsel for two full months during detention.775 According to a person close to Sabirov, “They only let our lawyer in to see him after [he] had signed [the confession].”776 Defendant Khamidullo Rakhmatullaev’s attorney told the judge: “On January 27, I took this case. I went to the pre-trial detention [facility] and couldn’t talk to him. I went there for ten days [in a row]...then I sent a complaint to the senior procurator. The complaint was sent to the procurator’s office. I received an answer that the defendant didn’t want a lawyer, and later I learned that he was forced to reject me.”777 Judge Sharipov did not respond to the attorneys’ complaints.

  • One woman whose son was arrested for membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir recounted her experience with police obfuscation: “The investigator did not let our lawyer meet with my son…. No one met with my son for the whole five months [of pre-trial detention]. I was only able to meet with him after the trial. My son never met with his lawyer. The investigator said my son refused a lawyer, but it turns out my son didn’t even know about the lawyer.”778

In some cases, the procuracy did not inform detainees of the charges against them, a crucial element in preparing an adequate defense. That the procuracy sends cases to trial based on a defendant’s self-incriminating statements even when the defendant is not aware of the charges further illustrates that confessions have been fabricated or coerced.

  • Accused Hizb ut-Tahrir member Abdilkhakim Shakasimov testified in court that police had never shown him the indictment against him.779 Shakasimov also testified that officers held his arms and forced him to sign a self-incriminating statement. He said he was unsure of the contents of the statement and, in fact, could not even read or write in Uzbek, the language of the confession.780

  • A person familiar with the case of Bahodir Ikramov—detained on December 21, 1998, at a Tashkent university where he was pursuing a master’s degree—said that authorities denied the young man access to the lawyer of his choice until the very last day of the police investigation. Ikramov expressed shock when on the last day of the investigation, after he had already signed a “confession” to narcotics possession, he was presented with the full charges against him for the first time. Ikramov was charged with membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir, illegal possession of narcotics, and encroachment on the constitutional order.781

688 The lack of judicial oversight of detention is a glaring violation of the ICCPR’s article 9(3), which states: “Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release.” Because the procuracy exercises executive, not judicial, power, procuracy review of arrest cannot be interpreted as the judicial review of detention envisaged in the ICCPR’s article 9.

689 Denial of access to counsel violates principle 8 of the U.N. Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, which states that, “All arrested, detained or imprisoned persons shall be provided with adequate opportunities, time and facilities to be visited by and to communicate and consult with a lawyer, without delay, interception or censorship and in full confidentiality. Such consultations may be within sight, but not within the hearing, of law enforcement officials.” Abuse of these rights are common in all criminal investigations in Uzbekistan. The Uzbek criminal justice system lacks procedural safeguards for detainees and criminal defendants, which police and security agents exploit in the campaign against independent Islam. It grants the prosecution wide powers concerning pre-trial custody and access to lawyers, and access to forensic evidence. Detainees do not have the right to appeal the lawfulness of their detention or to protest ill-treatment before a judge until their case goes to court, an egregious violation of international law governing detainees’ rights. While the code of criminal procedure provides for release of accused persons on bail during the preliminary investigation phase, custody during investigation and prior to trial is the rule, rather than the exception. The domestic legal framework for due process is detailed in “‘And It Was Hell All Over Again…’: Torture in Uzbekistan,” A Human Rights Watch Report, Vol. 12, No. 12(D), December 2000.

690 The ICCPR’s article 7 states, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Uzbekistan became a party to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment on August 31, 1995. Its failure to comply with many of the convention’s articles regarding the prevention of torture and accountability is detailed in Human Rights Watch, “And It Was Hell All Over Again.”

691 OMON is an acronym for Otriady Militsii Osobogo Naznachenia, Russian for Special Task Militia Unit.

692 Paragraph 8, Human Rights Committee, General Comment 16, (Twenty-third session, 1988), Compilation of General Comments and General Recommendations Adopted by Human Rights Treaty Bodies, U.N. Doc. HRI\GEN\1\Rev.1 at 21 (1994).

693 Articles 157 to 161, 221 and 224 refer specifically to the rules regulating searches and detentions, Criminal Procedure Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan, 1999.

694 Human Rights Watch interview with Muborak Abdurakhmonova, Tashkent, May 26, 2000; and open letter from Muborak Abdurakhmonova, 1998. This case is described in detail in “Imams, Their Followers, and ‘Wahhabis’” in Chapter III.

695 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Andijan, May 19, 2000.

696 Unofficial transcript, Iakasarai District Court, Tashkent, May 11, 1999, written by independent trial monitors, names withheld, June 1999. The Ministry of Internal Affairs building in Tashkent contains an investigative isolator and is the site of interrogations.

697 Human Rights Watch interview with Irina Mikulina, Iuldashev’s attorney, Tashkent, June 10, 1999; and Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, August 1, 2000.

698 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, February 27, 2001.

699 Ibid.

700 Human Rights Watch unofficial transcript, Tashkent City Court hearing held in the Akmal Ikramov District Court building, Tashkent, November 3, 2000. The case of the fifteen accused “Wahhabis” is described above, in “Imams, Their Followers, and ‘Wahhabis’” in Chapter III.

701 Human Rights Watch interview with the mother of a man accused of membership in Hizb ut-Tahrir, name withheld at her request, Tashkent, March 1, 2000.

702 See “Threats of Torture” in Chapter IV.

703 Written complaint addressed to the Chairman of the Tashkent City Court, from attorney Hamid Zainutdinov, December 24, 1998; and Human Rights Watch interview with Sharifa Isakhojaeva, Tashkent, June 1, 2000. This case is described above, in “Imams, Their Followers, and ‘Wahhabis’” in Chapter III.

704 Human Rights Watch interview with Sharifa Isakhojaeva, Tashkent, June 1, 2000.

705 Human Rights Watch interview with persons close to Shukhrat Parpiev, names withheld, Andijan, May 18, 2000.

706 Ibid. The name of the officer is on file with Human Rights Watch.

707 Ibid.

708 Ibid. Parpiev was nonetheless convicted on unrelated charges and sent to Jaslyk prison, where he died from torture. See “Torture and Mistreatment in Pre-trial Detention” in Chapter IV.

709 Human Rights Watch, “Crackdown in The Farghona Valley: Arbitrary Arrests and Religious Discrimination,” A Human Rights Watch Report, Vol. 10, No. 4 (D) May 1998.

710 Human Rights Watch interview with Sharifa Isakhojaeva regarding the detention of her son, Abdurashid Isakhojaev, Tashkent, June 1, 2000.

711 Written statement delivered to Human Rights Watch, signed by a relative of Shukhrat Abdurakhimov, name withheld, October 31, 1999.

712 Tashkent Province Court verdict issued by Judge B.U. Ergashev, August 13, 1999.

713 Human Rights Watch interview with persons close to Shukhrat Abdurakhimov, names withheld, November 4, 1999.

714 Human Rights Watch interview with a person close to Shukhrat Abdurakhimov, name withheld, Tashkent, November 4, 1999; and Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, July 19, 2000.

715 Human Rights Watch interview with persons close to Shukhrat Abdurakhimov, names withheld, Tashkent, November 4, 1999; and Tashkent Province Court verdict, issued by Judge B.U. Ergashev, August 13, 1999. Court documents place the date of arrest as March 12, 1999, not April 12.

716 Human Rights Watch interview with persons close to Shukhrat Abdurakhimov, names withheld, Tashkent, November 4, 1999.

717 Ibid.

718 Ibid.

719 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, July 19, 2000.

720 Tashkent Province Court verdict issued by Judge B. U. Ergashev, August 13, 1999.

721 This case is described in detail in “Hizb ut-Tahrir” in Chapter II.

722 Human Rights Watch interview with the wife of one defendant, interviewee asked not to be named, Tashkent, May 14, 1999.

723 Ibid.

724 Ibid.

725 Ibid.

726 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, November 3, 1999.

727 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, November, 3, 1999; and Human Rights Watch interview with rights defender Mahbuba Kosymova, Tashkent, June 22, 1999.

728 Urta-Chirchik District Court verdict, issued by Judge T. Sh. Zainutdinov, August 12, 1999.

729 Ibid. This case is described above, in “Hizb ut-Tahrir” in Chapter II.

730 Chirchik City Court verdict, issued by Judge A. A. Kamilov, August 15, 1999; and Human Rights Watch interview with Iakiaev’s mother, Bakhrid Iakiaeva, Tashkent, April 13, 2000.

731 Ibid.

732 Chirchik City Court verdict, issued by Judge A. A. Kamilov, August 15, 1999.

733 Human Rights Watch interview with a local rights defender, name withheld, Tashkent, February 27, 2001.

734 Ibid.

735 Ibid.

736 The man was also indicted and convicted on charges of crossing the Uzbek border without an exit visa.

737 Human Rights Watch interview with released prisoner, name withheld at his request, Namangan, July 11, 2001.

738 Human Rights Watch interview with a second released prisoner, name withheld at his request, Namangan, July 11, 2001.

739 Human Rights Watch interview with Sharifa Isakhojaeva, Tashkent, June 1, 2000.

740 Human Rights Watch unofficial transcript, Tashkent City Court hearing held in the Akmal Ikramov District Court bulding, Tashkent, February 7, 2001.

741 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, July 12, 1999.

742 Ibid.

743 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, June 21, 1999.

744 Human Rights Watch interview with a relative of Dilmurod Juraev, name withheld, Tashkent, November 18, 1999. Court documents indicate that police arrested Juraev on September 5, 1999. Verdict of the Collegium of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan, April 3, 2000.

745 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, July 12, 1999.

746 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, July 12, 1999.

747 Human Rights Watch interview with a person close to Hasanov, name withheld, place withheld, June 15, 2000.

748 Human Rights Watch interview with a person close to the case who spoke to neighbors who had seen police take Hasanov into custody on the day in question, name withheld, Tashkent, July 20, 2000. Hasanov’s elderly father, Munavar Hasanov, born 1930, was convicted by a Tashkent court on fabricated charges of possession of Hizb ut-Tahrir leaflets, after being tortured and forced to sign a self-incriminating statement, and was sentenced to three years in prison. In 2000 Hasanov’s younger brother Ismail was sentenced to twenty-four years in prison on terrorism charges. Human Rights Watch monitored his trial; no material evidence incriminating Ismail Hasanov was brought forth at trial or in the indictment. For details regarding the torture of Ismail and Munavar Hasanov, see below, “Torture and Mistreatment in Pre-trial Detention” in Chapter IV. See also, Human Rights Watch press release, “Uzbek Police ‘Disappear' Torture Victim,” July 20, 2000. It is believed Bahodir Hasanov was arrested as retribution for the independent religious activity of his family members.

749 Human Rights Watch interview with “F.F” (not the person’s true initials), Tashkent, July 2000. Human Rights Watch contacted several diplomatic missions to enlist their help in locating Bahodir Hasanov, but these efforts appear to have failed. In a telephone interview with a representative from the Alliance Francaise, a Human Rights Watch researcher was told that Hasanov’s employer could confirm that he was missing in custody, considered that he had been disappeared, that his relatives were unaware of his whereabouts, and that appeals to the government for information had gone unanswered. Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Gerard Barbare, head of the Alliance Francaise, May 21, 2001. Human Rights Watch considers Bahodir Hasanov to be disappeared.

750 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Andijan, May 19, 2000.

751 Ibid.

752 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, November 3, 1999.

753 Ibid.

754 Ibid.

755 Human Rights Watch unofficial transcript, Tashkent City Court, Judge Sharipov presiding, August 4, 2000. This case is described above, in “Imams, Their Followers, and ‘Wahhabis’” in Chapter III.

756 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, date withheld.

757 Human Rights Watch interview with Juvashev’s wife, Jizzakh, November 1, 2000.

758 Human Rights Watch interview with the wife of an accused “Wahhabi,” name withheld, Tashkent, August 14, 2000. At the time, 5,000 som was about the equivalent of the average monthly salary in Uzbekistan.

759 Uzbekistan law grants the police or procuracy investigator handling a case the authority to approve or reject a detainee’s or lawyer’s request for a forensic medical examination; these requests are often simply denied. Those attorneys who do attempt to request a forensic examination face grave consequences, as do their clients, of retribution by police.

760 See, for example, the case of Abdurashid Isakhojaev as described above, in “Imams, Their Followers, and ‘Wahhabis’” in Chapter III.

761 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, August 1, 2000.

762 Ibid.

763 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Irina Mikulina, August 9, 2000. The police investigator responsible for Iuldashev’s case was Nishan Bekmanov, working under the supervision of investigator Karshiev, head of the criminal investigative group.

764 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Irina Mikulina, August 9, 2000.

765 Human Rights Watch telephone interview with Irina Mikulina, August 9, 2000; and Human Rights Watch telephone interview, name withheld, August 2000.

766 Human Rights Watch interview with Feruza Kurbanova, Tashkent, March 14, 2001.

767 Ibid.

768 Ibid.

769 Human Rights Watch unofficial transcript, Shaikantaur District Court, Tashkent, March 2, 2001.

770 Human Rights Watch interview with Feruza Kurbanova, Tashkent, March 14, 2001.

771 Human Rights Watch unofficial transcript, Tashkent City Court hearing held in the Akmal Ikramov District Court building, Tashkent, November 1, 2000.

772 Human Rights Watch unofficial transcript, Tashkent City Court, Judge Sharipov presiding, August 4, 2000.

773 Ibid.

774 Ibid.

775 Ibid.

776 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, August 14, 2000.

777 Human Rights Watch unofficial transcript, Tashkent City Court, Judge Sharipov presiding, August 4, 2000.

778 Human Rights Watch interview with the mother of a religious prisoner, name withheld at her request, Tashkent, February 14, 2000.

779 Human Rights Watch interview with trial monitor Vasila Inoiatova, Tashkent, August 1, 2000.

780 Ibid.

781 Human Rights Watch interview, name withheld, Tashkent, July 10, 1999.

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