Uzbekistan

House of Lords written question – answered on 3rd July 2012.

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Photo of Lord Hylton Lord Hylton Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty's Government what representations they have made to the Government of Uzbekistan about reported deaths in prison in 2011 and investigations into them, and about arbitrary and pre-trial detention; and with what results.

Photo of Lord Howell of Guildford Lord Howell of Guildford Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (International Energy Policy)

There were a number of cases of reported deaths in prison in Uzbekistan in 2011, and several cases where bodies were reportedly returned to families with what appeared to be torture marks on them. Of particular concern were the reported deaths in prison of Okikhon Ziyokhonov, Abdullaev Mukhiddin, Umid Batirkhanov and Abdulaziz Mirzaev-who had been detained on charges ranging from attempting to overthrow the constitutional system and religious extremism, to theft-and the apparent lack of investigation into these cases.

We also have concerns about the use of arbitrary detention in Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan adopted habeas corpus legislation in 2008. We are working with the Uzbek Government to encourage full implementation of this law. In 2011 the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled that Akzam Turgunov, a human rights defender and member of the opposition "Erk" party, was being held arbitrarily. We continue to raise Turgunov's and others' cases with the Uzbek authorities.

In 2011-12 the UK supported a criminal and justice reform project, linked to habeas corpus, which focused in particular on supporting judges' and lawyers' capacity to uphold rule of law and international human rights standards in torture cases. In March 2012 Baroness Stern CBE, Honorary President of Prison Reform International, visited Uzbekistan for a three day visit and held frank talks with the Uzbek Government on penitentiary reform issues. We are developing a project as part of follow-up to the Baroness's visit.

Two UK experts are also currently participating full time in a wide-ranging European Union-led project on criminal and judicial reform.

We continue to raise our concerns on these issues with the Uzbek authorities, and through the Human Rights Report at www.fco.gov.uk/hrdreport; and to monitor trials and cases closely.

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