By Hyo-Jin Paik
Impunity Watch Reporter, Asia
TASHKENT, Uzbekistan – When Central Asian countries did not answer questions from Amnesty International over the past year, experts concluded that governments in those countries have set aside human rights over economic issues.
However, Amnesty’s Europe and Central Asia Director Nicola Duckworth said, “You cannot separate human rights out from other…problems that exist, because human rights…rests at the base of the solution for problems, whether it is political, or whether it is economic.”
Consequently, in its annual report, Amnesty International found that the largest number of human rights issues are unresolved in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. All dissent is suppressed in both countries, and while human rights activists are able to work in other Central Asian countries like Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, such is impossible in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.
Further, although death penalty was abolished in Uzbekistan in January 2009, no one knows how many people were actually executed or are serving life imprisonment, leaving surviving family members wondering whether or not their loved ones are alive. Moreover, Uzbek refugees are often forced to return to their homeland where they risk human rights violations, and human rights activists working in Uzbekistan are harassed and persecuted.
Impunity by the Turkmenistani government is prevalent as well. In both countries, justice fails because there is no system to ensure rule of law in that there are obstacles, such as difficulty in obtaining a lawyer, failure of prosecutors to pursue investigations, low penalty for convicted officials, and fear of reprisals by the victims.
Some attribute the reason for repression to the fact that countries like Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are still strongly depended on Russia, and Central Asian countries have adopted the worst from its neighbors.
Ann Bayevsky of Hudson Institute has criticized the United Nations for its failure to address the problem saying, “They [UN Human Rights Council] just eradicated human rights investigations in [Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan] because human rights abusers hold the balance of power.”
For more information, please see:
ABC News – Amnesty: Recession Leading to Repression – 28 May 2009
Amnesty International – Amnesty International Report 2009 Europe and Central Asia – 28 May 2009
Human Rights Watch – Uzbekistan: Stop Detention, Harassment of Activists – 29 May 2009
Trend News – Amnesty International: Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan leading black list of Central Asia countries – 29 May 2009
Voice of America – Amnesty International Scores Russian Human Rights Record – 28 May 2009
Voice of America – UN Body Criticized for Not Fighting for Human Rights – 22 May 2009