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Uzbekistan: Two Human Rights Defenders Imprisoned for 8 Years, 3 Months

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A trial took place in Tashkent of human rights advocates Fakhriddin Tillaev and Nuraddin Djumaniyazov.
 
They were falsely accused of “trafficking in persons” and sentenced to 8 years and three months.
 
On 6 March 2014, in Tashkent in the Shayhantaur District Court for Criminal Cases, the trial of two members of the Mazlum Human Rights Center took place: Fakhriddin Tillaev and Nuriddin Jumaniyazov. They were charged under Art. 135 of the Criminal Code (“trafficking in persons”). The prosecutor asked for 12 years of imprisonment. The court sentenced both the human rights advocates to 10 years and 8 months of imprisonment and applied the amnesty act passed by the Senate of Uzbekistan. The final term of punishment was thus 8 years and 3 months of imprisonment. 
 
Fakhriddin Khabibulloevich Tillaev was born on 15 August 1971 in the city of Baysun of the Surkhandarya Region of Uzbekistan. Citizen of Uzbekistan. Married. Two children. Since 2003, he has been a member of the Maslum Human Rights Center. Since 2005, he has been involved in the defense of labor rights in Surkhandarya Region. In 2012, he was one of the founders of the Union of Independent Trade Unions for support of labor migrants (the director is Abdulla Todjiboy- ugly).
 
Nuraddin Reimbergenovich Djumaniyazov, born 8 October 1948, in the city of Turtkul, Karakalpak ASSR, Uzbekistan. Citizen of Uzbekistan. Divorced. Two children. Since 2003, has been a member of the Maslum Human Rights Center. In 2012, took part in the creation of the Union of Independence Trade Unions for support of labor migrants and headed its Tashkent chapter.
  • Investigation
On 14 February 2014, the face-to-face interrogation of Fakhriddin Tillaev and Nuraddin Djumaniyazov took place. On the same day, they were charged, the preliminary inquiry was begun and completed, and the case was transferred to the prosecutor’s office. The accused and their attorneys were not given time to familiarize themselves with the criminal case. The excessive speed of the investigative measures grossly violated the code of criminal procedures of Uzbekistan.
 
On 2 January 2014, Tillaev and Djumaniyazov were arrested with the sanction of the court, but the materials of the arrest case were dated 4 January. This is not the first case of falsification of the date of arrest in the practice of Uzbekistan.
  • Torture
On 21 January 2014, during a meeting with his attorney Polina Braunerg, Tillaev said that he could not hear out of his right ear and that it was bleeding periodically. Then he reported that he had been forced to stand for hours under a faucet from which water dripped on his head. This caused a severe headache. The torturers also stuck needles between his fingers and toes.
 
When she learned of the torture, the lawyer appealed the same day to the investigator with a petition for forensic medical examination. Yet not until 5 March did she receive a reply from the investigator. He reported that he had sent her petition to Tashkent Prison, where Tillaev was being held, but only the prison administration could review it. In the event of a refusal, the attorney could send an inquiry to the head of the investigative division of the Interior Ministry of Uzbekistan. Likely, in this way, the investigator was trying to delay the assignment of a forensic medical examination.
  
In the materials of the criminal case, there were inquiries from Tillaev’s attorney on the conducting of the examination. The conclusion is missing from the materials of the case; therefore it was not mentioned in court, and experts did not take part in the proceeding. All of this was done so that the court would not even have the opportunity to take into account the complaints on the use of torture.
  • Trial
Tillaev’s attorney Polina Brauberg learned of the date of the trial in the afternoon of 5 March 2014, that is, with less than a day’s notice. In fact, she learned this accidently, when she went to the Shaykhantaur Court for Criminal Cases for another case. The trial was scheduled for 11:00 a.m., but it began after 13:00 and lasted until 17:00. The court proceeding took about five hours, and was taped by a cameraman from UzTV Channel One.
 
The prosecutor came to the trial with a triumphant expression, and apparently knew about the videotaping. According to witnesses, she was not familiar with the criminal case and looked through it from the hands of Judge Sanjar Muhammadov.
 
The “victims” took part in the trial. They informed the court that they had not seen Tillaev and had no relationship to him whatsoever. They confirmed that they had asked Djumaniyazovto give them the address of a southern Kazakhstani firm where they could ask about placement for temporary work. Without compensation, he connected them to a job placement agent in Chimkent (Kazakhstan).  In the case file, there is information that the “victims” Erkin Erdanov and Farhod Pardayev had freedom of movement, and access to international telephone communication. At their request, part of their wages was transferred from Kazakhstan to the account of relatives in Uzbekistan. Erdanov and Pardayev were offered free housing and meals. They were paid a salary for 25 days.
 
Their colleague Abdulla Tojiboy-ugly spoke particularly actively at the trial, and essentially took the side of the prosecution. He shouted and hurled insults at the defendants. Even the judge noted that Todjiboy-ugly was obliged to answer the questions of the court and not give an appraisal of the actions of the defendants.
 
On that same day, the prosecutor read the indictment and the court opened the pleadings.
 
At the end of the court session, the sentence was read out.
 
The Association for Human Rights in Central Asia (AHRCA) notes that the trial of the human rights defenders Fakhriddin Tillaev and Nuraddin Djumaniyazov was not independent or impartial. The sides were not equal in the trial and the tilt toward the prosecution predominated, that is, the court essentially supported the prosecution. Under such circumstances, the evidence cannot be examined.
  
   - The defense had the opportunity to be present during the investigation and 5 hours in court;
 
   - Tillaev and Djumaniyazov did not have time to familiarize themselves with the materials of the case, which violated their right to defense;
 
   - The court reviewed the case extremely fast. It accepted groundless evidence from the prosecution, which relied not only on the testimonies of the “vicims”; the latter could not prove that they had been subject to force during their work for a southern Kazakhstani firm. In the materials of the case, there was no information about inquiries from the investigation to Kazakhstan, no information about how the victims had not been paid for their labor, that the employers restrained them or deprived them of their freedom of movement, or any other qualifying signs for such a crime as trafficking in persons.
 
The Association of Human Rights of Central Asia (AHRCA) has sent a report:
          - to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
          - to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders
          - to the UN Special Rapporteur on Independence of Judges and Lawyers
          - to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture
          - to the EU Special Representative on Central Asia
          - to the EU Special Representative on Human Rights
          - to the governments of democratic countries
 
We urge you to call on the government of Uzbekistan to fulfill the international agreements it has ratified in the area of human rights, including the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Forms of Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Forms of Treatment and Punishment and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.