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On the question of EU sanctions against Uzbekistan

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The EU is to be praised for its position in imposing sanction on the brutal Uzbek regime, lifting them now would deprive the EU of the levers of influence on the human rights situation in Uzbekistan.

SUMMARY: We hope that in its April Decision the Council will be objective and will take into account the fact that Uzbekistan has failed to comply with the requirements of the entire Sanctions package, both its original version (May 2005) and even the reduced variant (October 2007). An important thing is that the very nature of the regime has not even slightly changed. The regime has been and remains autocratic and oppressive with elements of totalitarianism. Smaller concessions on human rights with respect to the European Union were made just before a decision on sanctions. They were clearly timed to coincide with and influence the decision and do not express a systematic liberalization line and humanization of domestic policy. If the sanction were to be lifted, there would be no need for Karimov to make concession and everything would revert back.

On May 13, 2005 government troops brutally suppressed a demonstration in the square Bobur in Andijan. At the end of the same year, the European Council adopted sanctions in respect of Uzbekistan, including a ban on arms supplies to that country and the entry visas applicable to 12 government officials and senior military officers. As a condition for lifting of those sanctions, Uzbekistan was to allow an international investigation of the Andijan events, which has not yet been fulfilled. 
 
As a consequence of Uzbek government inaction these sanction have been repeatedly extended, whilst at the same they have been mitigated. Most recently, the question regarding the investigation of the Andijan tragedy was allotted to the background, and the EU has started to forget the Andijan tragedy much faster than the events in the square Tian-an-Men in China. The main EU requirement has changed and it now concerns the observance of human rights in Uzbekistan.
 
In October 2007, the European Council decided to suspend the visa ban for six months, justifying the move as providing an opportunity for Uzbekistan to demonstrate progress in the required, namely: the release of all imprisoned human rights defenders from the prisons; admission of the representatives of the International Red Cross to the prisons; weakening of the regime of accreditation and registration of non-governmental organizations. This rather narrow list of requirements significantly differs from the broader human rights platform that has been put forward by the civil society activists of Uzbekistan (please, see their appeal to the European Union on September 19, 2007 – attached).
 
But even this reduced list of requirements has only partially been fulfilled by Uzbekistan: for example, only six of thirteen human rights defenders, indicated by the organization of Human Rights Watch in its appeal on December 14, 2007, have been released from prison. Only HRW has been able to resume its activities, while the other international non-governmental organizations still may not be present in the country. Only three years later the representative of ICRC finally received permission to visit prisons and prisoners in need of humanitarian assistance, including many prisoners of conscience. It must be noted that even these limited requirement of the European Union have not been fully implemented.
Supporters of lifting the sanctions point out to the fact that there are some relaxations of restrictions, and that it is necessary to accommodate Tashkent, by encouraging further progress. And some even call into question the effectiveness of the sanctions as a way of improving human rights situation in general and in this country in particular.
  
Our paper aims to highlight these two fundamental issues and make an appropriate recommendation to the EU.
 
The first question: inadequate use of EU sanctions against Uzbekistan and Burma.
 
First of all we would like to draw attention to the fact that in the same document from the European Council on 15-16 October 2007 (on the basis of 2824 meetings), along with the softening of the sanctions against Uzbekistan much tighter sanctions were imposed against Burma for the suppression of dissident in events strikingly similar to Andijan. Is there logic in adopting such a document?
On the effectiveness of sanctions against the regime of Karimov: it is necessary to turn to the facts instead of speculation on this subject. The Association has information on 51 inmates, who have been charged with criminal offences between 1991 and 2007. There are human rights defenders, journalists, members of political parties and other people persecuted for religious beliefs in our list. They are thousands. They have also been convicted for political reasons for independent views on religion. We do not have accurate statistics on this category of prisoners. Human Rights Center “Memorial” has information on it.
 
Trends in the arrest, trial and release of these 51 prisoners of conscience show that in 2006, which was preceded by a peak of international pressure on Uzbekistan and the adoption of the EU sanctions, 8 people were arrested, but 9 were released. That is, a reduction of repression was observed. In 2007, the situation deteriorated again, most likely because the authorities of Uzbekistan after the easing of the international pressure felt more confidently and returned to their habitual practice of routine repression of dissidents.
 
 

1991-2004

2005

2006

2007

 

2008

(until March 29)

Total

Charged with criminal offences for the period *)

 

8

24

8

11

N/A

51

Released for the period *)

 

0

4

9

5

6

24

Stayed in prison until the indicated period

8

28

27

33

27

 
*) The last names of the people who represent these numbers are given in an attachment.
 
The conclusion from the table is provided below: the sanctions have been effective and have resulted, at least in 2006, in the alleviation of the situation in Uzbekistan.
 
The second question is related to the presence or absence of progress in Uzbekistan in the field of human rights. On the one hand, indeed at the beginning of 2008, there have been some positive developments, including the release of a small number of human rights defenders, the entry into force of the law to abolish the death penalty, admission of the representatives of ICC to the country as well as the signing of the ILO Conventions on child labor ? 138 and 182.
 
Further analysis of the current situation should refer to the parallel processes as well that can negate the importance of positive changes.
 
Thus, in the autumn of last year, when the EU decision on easing of the sanctions regime was adopted, there were two extraordinary events.
 
First, there it was an unprecedented political assassination of journalist Alisher Saipov who was from Osh, Kyrgyzstan. An independent investigation of ICG and Russian expert Vitaliy Ponomaryov state that this crime leads to the special services of Uzbekistan.
  
Second, for the first time in the history of Uzbekistan, when a civilian, the famous poet-dissident Yusuf Juma of Bukhara, was arrested, Special Forces were used which without fired at the house of Yusuf Juma even before his arrest and in the authorities still believe that the use of weapons against unarmed people was lawful because none of the high-ranking officials suffered any criminal or disciplinary punishment for these acts. It follows that Karimov is ready to pursue and use weapons against critics of the regime.
  
In addition, as quoted above, the table shows trends relating to those charged with criminal offences and released: the same number of political prisoners remains in prisons as in 2005-2006, that is, 27 people. There are still those serving sentences who were imprisoned in 2001. The term of sentence of part of the political prisoners is de facto becoming for life under false pretexts, extensions (Akhmadzhon Adylov, Murad Dzhuraev). As for the rest of them tactics of torture and inhuman treatment are used, as a result of which their health has seriously deteriorated (Mamadali Makhmudov, Mutabar Tadzhibaev).
  
European Union should draw attention to the way the authorities of Uzbekistan treat political prisoners. International experts and Uzbek activists regularly report systematic practice of torture in Uzbekistan. The UN Committee against Torture made the last such conclusion in November 2007, and the torture of Yusuf Juma in prison is a recent example, which his lawyer confirmed.
   
One typical example: On March 28, 2008 the relatives of 26-year-old Abdurakhim Tashpulatov, convicted on trumped up case in 2001, received his body. The causes of death are not disclosed by the authorities. This is the third case of the death of a prisoner during the past year. There are serious grounds to believe that death was a result of torture.
   
The last presidential election in December 2007 was a political farce and demonstrated complete disregard for the norms of the Constitution and international law. Islam Karimov has been ruling the country for already 17 years in the face of repressive policies and retained power in December 2007, despite the constitutional limit of the presidency to two terms.
 
The conclusion of the second question: along with positive changes there are a number of negative phenomena that negate the importance of these changes. The regime actually operates on the principle of step forward and two steps back. Only biased person can call this set of facts a progress.
  
In late April, the European Council will meet to review the sanctions regime. What are the arguments that it will take up? Will it take into account the initial requirements or cancel the sanctions?
  
We hope that the Council will be objective and will take into account the fact that Uzbekistan has failed to comply with the requirements of the entire package, both its original version and even the reduced variant. An important thing is that the very nature of the regime has not even slightly changed. The regime has been and remains autocratic and oppressive with elements of totalitarianism. Smaller concessions on human rights with respect to the European Union, were made just before a decision on sanctions. They were clearly timed to coincide with and influence the decision and do not express a systematic liberalization line and humanization of domestic policy. If the sanctions were to be lifted, there world be no need for Karimov to make concession and everything world revert back.
  
We make the following recommendation: to prove the sustainability of progress in human rights in Uzbekistan, the regime should:
   
1) Release (through rehabilitation) of all prisoners convicted for political reasons;
     
2) Start penitentiary reform;
 
3) Discontinue the practice of torture and other ill-treatment during interrogation, investigation
and serving of sentence;
      
4) Remove the censorship of the media, including the Internet and to stop the harassment of
journalists;
  
5) Register opposition parties to for parliamentary, presidential and local elections;
 
6) Exempt from the courts and the Bar dictates of state power;
    
7) Discontinue the practice of forced child labor;
 
8) Remove restrictions on the freedom of religion, to release believers convicted for political reasons;
 
9) Exempt non-governmental organizations, both local and international, from any kind of administrative restrictions;
  
10) Immediately lift restrictions on the movement in the country and leave the country, which violate the freedom of movement of citizens:
• so-called exit visas (OVIR),
• institute of residence and compulsory registration, which violate the freedom of movement of citizens
 
The European Council appears to have withdrawn from the agenda the question of the investigation into the Andijan events, and moved on to a broader programme of development of human rights; therefore, one should henceforth be guided by the list of requirements. The reason is simple: Although human rights violations are observed in other Central Asian countries, Uzbekistan is an example of an extreme case. By neglecting the rights of its citizens, the Uzbek government sets a negative example for other countries of Central Asia. We hope that when making a decision, the European Union will proceed from the interests and aspirations of all Uzbek society, not only in the interest of forging a partnership with the political elite.
 

 

Criteria

 

1991-2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

(until March 29)

harged with criminal offences for the indicated period

Akhmadzhon

Adylov,

Muhammad

Bekzhan,

 

Rashid Bekzhan,

 

Murod Zhuraev,

 

Bakhodir Kambarov,

 

Mamadali Makhmudov,

 

Rustam Usmanov,

 

Gayrat Mekhliboev;

 

 

Abdugafur

Dadaboev;

 

Khamdam Suleymonov;

 

Musazhon Bobodzhonov;

 

Nurmuhammad Azizov;

 

Dilmurod Mukhiddinov;

 

Saidzhakhon Zaynobiddinov;

 

Akbarali Aripov;

 

Muzafamirzo Iskhakov;

 

Muhammadkodir

Otakhanov;

 

Mutabar Tadzhibaeva;

 

Khabibulla Akpulatov;

 

Norboy Kholzhigitov;

 

Abdurasul Khudoynazarov;

 

Nasim Isakov;

 

Sattor Irzaev;

 

Mamarazhab Irzaev;

 

Sanzhar

Umarov;

 

Nadira Khidoyatova;

 

Ulugbek Kattabekov;

 

Nosir Zakirov;

 

Zakhidzhon Zakirov;

 

Bobomurod Mavlyanov;

 

Khazrat Akhmedov;

 

Dzhamol

Kutliev;

Azam Farmonov;

 

Alisher Karamatov;

 

Ikhtier Khamraev;

 

Isroilzhon Kholdarov;

 

Zhamshid Karimov;

 

Ulugbek Khaydarov;

 

Utkur Pardaev;

 

Yadgor Turlibekov;

 

Gulbakhor Turaeva;

 

Umida Niyazova;

 

Yuldash Rasulev;

 

Zafar Rakhimov;

 

Sobir Tulyaganov;

 

Tursinbay Utamuradov;

 

Mashrab Dzhumaev;

 

Yusuf Juma;

Bobur Jumaev;

 

Karim Bozorboev;

 

Bakhodir Mulhtarov;

N/A

 

Released for the indicated period

 

absent

AbdugafurDadaboev;

 

MuzafarmirzoIskhakov;

 

MuhammadkodirOtakhanov;

 

Zakhidzhon Zakirov;

 

 

 

 

Khamdam Suleymonov;

 

Musazhon Bobodzhonov;

 

Nurmukhammad Azizov;

 

Akbarali Aripov;

 

Nadira Khidoyatova;

 

Nosir Zakirov;

 

Ulugbek Khaydarov;

 

Utkur Pardaev;

 

Yadgor Turlibekov;

 

Gulbakhor Turaeva;

 

Unida Niyazova;

 

Sobir Tulyaganov;

 

Tursinbay Utamuradov;

 

Bakhodir Mukhtarov;

 

SayidzhakhonZaynabiddinov,

 

UlugbekKattabekov;

 

BobomurodMavlyanov,

 

Ikhtiyor Khamraev,

 

Karim Bozorbaev;

 

Stayed in prison at the end of the indicated period

Akhmadzhon

Adylov,

 

Muhammad

Bekzhan,

 

Rashid Bekzhan,

 

Murod Zhuraev,

 

Bakhodir Kambarov,

 

Mamadali Makhmudov,

 

Rustam Usmanov,

 

Gayrat Mekhliboev;

 

 

Abdugafur

Dadaboev;

 

Khamdam Suleymonov;

 

Musazhon Bobodzhonov;

 

Nurmuhammad Azizov;

 

Dilmurod Mukhiddinov;

 

Saidzhakhon Zaynobiddinov;

 

Akbarali Aripov;

 

Muzafamirzo Iskhakov;

 

Muhammadkodir

Otakhanov;

 

Mutabar Tadzhibaeva;

 

Khabibulla Akpulatov;

 

Norboy Kholzhigitov;

 

Abdurasul Khudoynazarov;

 

Nasim Isakov;

 

Sattor Irzaev;

 

Mamarazhab Irzaev;

 

Sanzhar Umarov;

 

Nadira Khidoyatova;

 

Ulugbek Kattabekov;

 

Nosir Zakirov;

 

Zakhidzhon Zakirov;

 

Bobomurod Mavlyanov;

 

Khazrat Akhmedov;

 

Dzhamol Kutliev;

Dilmurod Mukhiddinov;

 

Saidzhakhon Zaynobiddinov;

 

Mutabar Tadzhibaeva;

 

Khabibulla Akpulatov;

 

Norboy Kholzhigitov;

 

Abdurasul Khudoynazarov;

 

Nasim Isakov;

 

Sattor Irzaev;

 

Mamarazhab Irzaev;

 

Sanzhar Umarov;

 

Ulugbek Kattabekov;

 

Bobomurod Mavlyanov;

 

Khazrat Akhmedov;

 

Dzhamol Kutliev;

 

Azam Farmonov;

 

Alisher Karamatov;

 

Ikhtier Khamraev;

 

Isroilzhon Kholdarov;

 

Zhamshid Karimov;

Yuldash Rasulev;

Zafar Rakhimov;

Mashrab Dzhumaev;

Yusuf Jumaev;

Bobur Jumaev;

Karim Bozorboev;

 

Dilmurod Mukhiddinov,

Mutabar Tadzhibaeva,

Khabibulla Akpulatov,

Norboy Kholzhigitov,

Abdurasul Khudoynazarov,

Nasim Isakov,

Sattor Irzaev,

Mamarazhob Nazarov;

Sanzhar Umarov;

Isroilzhon Kholdarov;

Khazrat Akhmedov;

Azam Farmonov;

Alisher Karamatov;

Zhamshid Karimov;

Dzhamol Kutliev;

Yuldash Rasulev;

Zafar Rakhimov;

Mashrab Dzhumaev;

Yusuf Juma;

Bobur Jumaev;

Akhmadzhon

Adylov,

Muhammad

Bekzhan,

Rashid Bekzhan,

Murod Zhuraev,

Bakhodir Kambarov,

Mamadali Makhmudov,

Rustam Usmanov,

Gayrat Mekhliboev;

 

DilmurodMukhiddinov;

 

MutabarTadzhibaeva;

 

KhabibullaAkpulatov;

 

NorboyKholzhigitov;

 

AbdurasulKhudoynazarov;

 

Nasim Isakov;

 

Sattor Irzaev;

 

Mamarazhob Nazarov,

 

Sanzhar Umarov;

 

Isroilzhon Kholdarov;

Khazrat Akhmedov;

Azam Farmonov;

Alisher Karamatov;

Zhamshid Karimov;     Dzhamol Kutliev;

Yuldash Rasulev;

Zafar Rakhimov;

Mashrab Dzhumaev;

Yusuf Juma;

Bobur Jumaev;

Akhmadzhon

Adylov,

Muhammad

Bekzhan,

Rashid Bekzhan,

Murod Zhuraev,

Bakhodir Kambarov,

Mamadali Makhmudov,

Rustam Usmanov,

Gayrat Mekhliboev;