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Sentence Undermines Government Reform Claims and Free Speech

Update (July 15, 2021):  On July 15, the court of appeal of the Samarkand Regional Criminal Court upheld the earlier court ruling against Otabek Sattoriy and his six-and-a-half-year prison sentence. The court ordered the return to Sattoriy…
Otabek Sattoriy.
News

Known for Criticizing Local Authorities

(Berlin) – An outspoken blogger from Uzbekistan faces up to 10 years in prison in a dubious extortion case brought by local authorities in the country’s southeast region, Human Rights Watch said today. Plainclothes officers detained the blogger,…
Otabek Sattoriy.
News

Independent Review Recommends Funding to Address Harms

An external review of the World Bank Group’s private funding institutions found that social and environmental abuses caused by their development projects went largely unaddressed, leaving victims without remedies. The review focused on the…
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News

Reforms Need to Target the Underlying Soviet-Era System Encouraging Forced Labor

Despite a slew of steps taken to curb the practice, forced labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton fields remains widespread, according to a recently released report. The Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights (UGF), which has been monitoring…
Women carrying bags of cotton to be weighed and loaded onto a truck in Jizzakh region during the 2016 cotton harvest. The government typically requires people to meet a daily quota of cotton picked, from which the costs of food and transport are deducted.
News

Create Commission to Address Current and Former Prisoner Rehabilitation

(Tashkent) – The Uzbek government has released more than 35 people imprisoned on politically motivated charges, including journalists, human rights defenders, and other activists since President Shavkat Mirziyoyev took office in September 2016,…
Human Rights Watch, local human rights activists, and former political prisoners in Uzbekistan met with members of the Uzbek government in June 2018.
News

World Bank President Jim Kim Should Press to Eliminate Labor Abuses

Despite recent reforms, systematic forced labor was still rampant in 2017 in Uzbekistan’s cotton sector, new research shows. A report by the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights (UGF), a German-based nongovernmental…
A woman picks cotton during the 2015 cotton harvest, which runs from early September to late October or early November annually.
News
The scene outside a Tashkent courtroom where two journalists are on trial is at once festive and tragic. Uzbekistan’s embattled human rights defenders, long harassed by the late Islam Karimov’s repressive government, gathered in numbers not seen for years…
Report
Summary Uzbekistan’s second president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, assumed the presidency in September 2016, following the death of Islam Karimov – the Central Asian country’s authoritarian ruler for 27 years. Since then, the Uzbek government has sought…
News

Government Should Stop Censoring and Harassing Reporters

As a former journalist it’s always rewarding to be around reporters doing their work, remembering that thrill of what it’s like to chase a good story. I recall the pleasure of being with two particular journalists on a trip…
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News

Despite Media Freedom Advances, Long Way to Go

(Tashkent) – Politically motivated prosecutions and censorship keep Uzbekistan’s media outlets, journalists, and other government critics self-censoring and under pressure, despite an improved landscape for open debate and critical reporting, Human…
A Facebook user in Uzbekistan uses mobile internet to access information about an ongoing trial.
Video
Politically motivated prosecutions and censorship keep Uzbekistan’s media outlets, journalists, and other government critics self-censoring and under pressure, despite an improved landscape for open debate and critical reporting. These actions undermine…
News

Small Positive Step on a Long Road to Respecting Human Rights

Today, I got a Skype message I will treasure: the government of Uzbekistan has finally released journalist Yusuf Ruzimuradov after 19 long years in jail. You may never have heard of him, but by our count, Ruzimuradov, 64, was…
Yusuf Ruzimuradov in an undated photo.
News

Regional Leaders Should End Repressive Policies

(Berlin) – Political leaders in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan should use the window of opportunity offered by political change in their countries to improve human rights, Human Rights Watch said today in releasing its World Report 2018. Leaders of…
People attend the opening ceremony of the new Belarussian-built potash plant in Garlyk, Turkmenistan March 31, 2017.
News

Stop Detaining Critics; Respect Independence of Media, Activists

(Brussels) – The European Union should make respect for human rights and an end to decades of repression a core component of its engagement with Central Asian countries, Human Rights Watch said today. In the past year, Central Asia has seen some…
From left to right: Mr Neven MIMICA, Member of the European Commission; Ms Federica MOGHERINI, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy; Mr Erlan IDRISSOV, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan; Mr Erlan ABDYLDAEV
News

Some Students, Teachers, Medical Workers Released

The recent release of 200,000 university students and some teachers and medical workers from forced labor picking cotton in Uzbekistan came shortly after World Bank President Jim Yong Kim’s first meeting with the country’s new president, Shavkat…
News
On June 27 we released a joint report documenting forced and child labor linked to the World Bank’s agriculture projects in Uzbekistan. We hoped it would cause bank officials to rethink their approach. But then the bank’s country team…
A school-age boy hides under direction from a teacher who feared he would be seen by a monitor during the 2016 cotton harvest, Beruni district, Karakalpakstan
News
The World Bank president, Jim Kim, said last year that he was going to re-orient the institution, declaring, “We have to make growth more equitable.” But the World Bank’s investments in Uzbekistan tell a different story. The Bank has loaned more than half…
News

Fighting Forced Labor in Uzbekistan’s Cotton Fields

  At age 60, Elena Urlaeva has been arrested, beaten, strip searched and threatened so many times that she stopped counting. She must slip out of her house under cover of darkness when no one is…
Uzbek human rights defender Elena Urlaeva, detained at a psychiatric hospital from March 1 to March 23, 2017.
Report
Summary Cotton is mandatory for everyone. The government gave the orders [to pick] and you will not go against those orders…. If I refuse, they will fire me…. We would lose the bread we eat. −Uzbek schoolteacher, October 2015, Turtkul,…