At least 12 people detained during 1995 were probable prisoners of conscience. Reports continued to be received of torture and ill-treatment of detainees in police custody. An opposition leader, his son and a human rights activist were assaulted by suspected government agents. Two people apparently "disappeared". At least 10 people were sentenced to death and at least one person was executed. A referendum in March confirmed the extension of President Islam Karimov's term in office until the year 2000 and presidential elections scheduled for 1997 were cancelled. A new Criminal Code entered into force in April. In September Uzbekistan acceded to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its (First) Optional Protocol, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. In March the Supreme Court sentenced six men associated with the outlawed political party Erk (Freedom) to up to 12 years' imprisonment. They were convicted of offences including conspiracy to seize power and calling for the violent overthrow of the state. The six – Murad Dzhurayev, Erkin Ashurov, Nemat Akhmedov, Shavkat Kholbayev, Khoshim Suvanov and Shavkat Mamatov – were arrested in 1994 and had already spent up to 11 months in detention. There were persistent allegations that the charges against them were groundless, that some had been tortured and ill-treated, and that they were being punished solely because of their involvement in distributing the banned Erk party newspaper. They were probable prisoners of conscience. A seventh defendant, Dilarom Iskhakova, was sentenced to six years' imprisonment, suspended for three years because she was a single parent. At least four other Erk party activists or sympathizers, all probable prisoners of conscience, were still serving sentences at the end of the year following conviction on allegedly fabricated criminal charges. In January Mamadali Makhmudov, an associate of the exiled Erk leader, Muhammad Salih, was sentenced by the City Court in Tashkent, the capital, to four years' imprisonment for embezzlement and abuse of office. The charge on which he had been arrested in 1994 – illegal possession of a firearm – had been dropped. In July Rashid Bekzhanov, Muhammad Salih's brother, was sentenced by the Khorezm Regional Court to five years' imprisonment, apparently on a charge connected with illegal business activity. The charge on which he had been arrested in 1994 – of distributing anti-government leaflets – had been dropped. Also held throughout the year were Abdulla Abdurazakov, a member of the Erk central committee, sentenced in 1994 to three and a half years' imprisonment for slander, and Gaipnazar Koshchanov (see Amnesty International Report 1995). Sherali Ruzimuradov (see Amnesty International Report 1995) was believed to have been released. Mukhtabar Akhmedova, a social and environmental activist, was tried before the Tashkent City Court in June on charges of defaming the Governor of Tashkent and President Karimov. She had been in police custody since January. She was a probable prisoner of conscience. The charges against her reportedly related to her having criticized the Governor over plans for the demolition of houses in Tashkent, and to unpublished writings critical of the President found during a search of her home. Mukhtabar Akhmedova was sentenced to four years' imprisonment but was immediately released in accordance with a presidential amnesty issued the previous month. Akhmatkhan Turakhanov, a probable prisoner of conscience (see Amnesty International Report 1995), was released in May after serving an 18-month prison sentence for illegal possession of a weapon. Reports continued to be received of torture and ill-treatment of detainees. In January the trial opened of Iosif Koinov, aged 76, who had been arrested in 1994 and charged with killing a lodger at his home. He alleged in court that he had been beaten and tortured with electric shocks to make him confess. In February the trial was halted and he was released. The charge was dropped in June. In April Dmitry Fattakhov, Aleksey Smirnov and Oleg Gusev were arrested for murder. Aleksey Smirnov and Oleg Gusev alleged that they were severely beaten to force them to confess. Aleksey Smirnov was released from custody in June and went into hiding, and Oleg Gusev was released in December. However, allegedly as a consequence of his treatment in detention, Dmitry Fattakhov was reported to have become mentally ill, and in December he was ordered to be confined in a psychiatric hospital until fit to stand trial. Nadira Khidoyatova and Asiya Turiniyazova were arrested in July by officers of the National Security Committee on charges of illegally exporting animal skins. At the time both were pregnant. They alleged that while in investigative detention National Security Committee officials compelled them to undergo abortions. The women were released from custody in October pending trial, and the National Security Committee official in charge of the case was dismissed from his post. In March Mikhail Ardzinov, Deputy Chairman of the unregistered Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan, was attacked on a Tashkent street by two men whom he identified as police officers. He was not seriously injured, but the men took his briefcase and stole papers including notes taken by him at the trial of Murad Dzhurayev and his co-defendants (see above). In April the former Vice-President of Uzbekistan and prominent government opponent, Shukrulla Mirsaidov, and his son Khusan Mirsaidov, were abducted in a Tashkent street by unknown men who dragged them into separate cars. Shukrulla Mirsaidov reported that he was taken to a room where he was stripped naked, drugged and photographed and videoed lying on a sofa with a naked woman. He was later dumped, half-naked, in a field. Khusan Mirsaidov was beaten and had gas sprayed in his face before being dumped in another location. Shukrulla Mirsaidov had been the victim of a previous assault by suspected government agents in 1993 (see Amnesty International Report 1994). Abduvali Mirzoyev, an Islamic prayer leader from Andizhan, and his assistant Ramazan Matkarimov "disappeared" in August after they were reportedly detained at Tashkent airport by people believed to be officers of the National Security Committee. Their whereabouts, and those of Abdullo Utayev, an Islamic activist who "disappeared" in 1992 (see Amnesty International Report 1994), remained unknown. The new Criminal Code retained the death penalty as a possible punishment for 13 offences. It abolished the death penalty for women. No statistics were published on the application of the death penalty, but at least 10 death sentences were passed and at least one person, sentenced to death in 1994, was executed. The true figures were believed to be far higher. Amnesty International called for clarification of the basis for the criminal charges against possible prisoners of conscience or for judicial review of their criminal convictions. It called for investigations into allegations of torture and ill-treatment in pre-trial detention and into the assaults on Mikhail Ardzinov and Shukrulla and Khusan Mirsaidov, and for those found responsible to be brought to justice. It called for clarification of the whereabouts of Abduvali Mirzoyev, Ramazan Matkarimov and Abdullo Utayev, and for them to be released if they were not to be charged with a recognizably criminal offence. Amnesty International called for the commutation of all death sentences and continued to press the authorities to abolish the death penalty.

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