23 December 2005 The top United Nations’ human rights official today urged the Uzbek government to abide by international legal standards amid reports that dozens of defendants were convicted during closed-door trials held earlier this month.
The latest trials follows the November conviction of 15 men who were accused of crimes stemming from the violent protests in the Andijan last May that left hundreds of people dead at the hands of Government forces.
“If the latest proceedings were anything like the trial that resulted in the conviction of the first 15 defendants last month, there is very good reason to worry,” said Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights “I once again urge the Government to abide scrupulously by the fair-trial standards Uzbekistan has freely accepted.”
After the first trial ended in mid-November, Ms. Arbour voiced her concerns about alleged irregularities, an inadequate defense and indications that little evidence was presented during the proceedings, other than confessions that echoed the prosecutor’s accusations and were greatly at odds with information from independent sources.
Ms. Arbour today recalled that she offered to send a monitor to the trial if her representative would have access to case files and places of detention. The Uzbek Government rejected the proposal.
In a report issued in June after the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) sent a mission to neighboring Krygyzstan to interview survivors of the event, the High Commissioner said there was strong, consistent and credible testimony indicting the Uzbek military and security forces had committed grave human rights violations in Andijan, mostly of the right to life.
“The Government has rejected an international inquiry into the Andijan events and independent scrutiny of the related proceedings,” she said. “As conducted, these trials risk having produced unjust and unfounded convictions while the real perpetrators of atrocities remain unpunished.”