HRW demands Kazakhstan to reject Uzbekistan’s request and not to extradite four activists

Oct. 15 () –

The NGO Human Rights Watch on Saturday urged Kazakhstan authorities not to extradite four Karakalpak diaspora activists to Uzbekistan because they would face a high risk of politically motivated prosecution and torture there, as they have participated in protests to defend the sovereignty of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, in the north of the country.

HRW Central Asia researcher Mihra Rittman has assured that there is no doubt that they would face these consequences in case of being forcibly returned to Uzbekistan and has reminded that Kazakhstan is forbidden to send them back in these circumstances, so she has demanded that they reject the request and release the activists.

The charges facing each of them have not been made public, however they are thought to be related to events that took place in Karakalpakstan on July 1 and 2, when at least 21 people were killed and more than 240 injured after police violently broke up protests in Nukus and other Karakalpakstan cities against proposed constitutional amendments that want to remove the region’s right to independence.

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In recent years, human rights organizations have documented numerous cases of torture and other ill-treatment, as well as arbitrary arrests of persons accused of crimes against the state in Uzbekistan.

In 2020, the UN Human Rights Committee expressed concern about “continuing reports of torture and ill-treatment, including sexual violence and rape, by prison officials and law enforcement personnel” against persons deprived of their liberty, including persons detained on politically motivated charges.”

The committee also noted its concern about “the high level of impunity that exists in these cases, manifested by the low number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions under article 235 of the Criminal Code, and by the lenient sentences often imposed on perpetrators.”

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The NGO recalled that international treaties signed by Kazakhstan prevail over any bilateral agreements it may have signed with Uzbekistan, so it should “take note” of reports of torture and ill-treatment when considering extradition requests from Uzbek authorities.

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