AKIPRESS.COM - 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 said.
Alongside other positive steps, the releases have raised hopes that the Uzbek government is making efforts to improve its human rights record.
But thousands of people remain behind bars on vague or overbroad charges, including for extremism.
"The government should immediately release everyone imprisoned on politically motivated charges and provide them with full rehabilitation and access to adequate medical treatment. Freeing the country’s remaining political prisoners and ensuring them justice would demonstrate a genuine commitment to reform," the HRW said.
“The release of dozens of journalists, rights activists, opposition and religious figures over the past two years has been an important first step in the reform process,” said Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “But the Uzbek government should make the changes systematic, free all those still imprisoned on unlawful grounds, and ensure justice for those released.”
Human Rights Watch interviewed 23 recently released political prisoners between September 2017 and July 2018. They include 16 in Tashkent in June and seven in other cities, including Andijan, Fergana, Margilan, Bukhara, and Yangibozor. They described facing legal and economic barriers following their release, including restrictions on freedom of movement, inability to obtain court decisions needed to appeal unlawful sentences, surveillance, and inadequate medical care for health ailments stemming from their incarceration.
Among those still in prison are Andrei Kubatin, Akrom Malikov, Rustam Abdumannapov, Jamolidin Abdurakhamnov, scholars; Mirsobir Hamidkariev, a film producer; Aramais Avakyan, a fisherman; Ruhiddin Fahriddinov (Fahrutdinov), a religious figure; Ravshan Kosimov, Viktor Shin, and Alisher Achildiev, soldiers; Nodirbek Yusupov, a deportee from the United States and religious believer; Askar Ahmadiy and Jahongir Kulidzhanov, religious believers; and Aziz Yusupov, the brother of a Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty journalist. Some of them, including Kubatin and Fahriddinov have been tortured.