GENEVA (9 November 2023) – UN experts today expressed deep concern about the arbitrary detention of Uzbek human rights defender, Dauletmurat Tajimuratov, in Uzbekistan, and said he was facing harassment and inhuman treatment in prison.
“During his detention, authorities subjected Mr. Dauletmurat Tajimuratov to threats and physical assault,” the experts said.
Dauletmurat Tajimuratov was reportedly violently arrested on 1 July 2022 when police cracked down on a peaceful protest in Nukus, organised by him and others to defend Karakalpakstan’s autonomous status as an independent republic and the rights of the Karakalpak minority in Uzbekistan. During the protest, police reportedly used water cannons, rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas to disperse the participants.
“The human rights defender has been subjected to physical and psychological harassment by the detention officers in the pre-trial detention center No. 11 in Urgench,” they said. “His head was forcibly shaved, and prison officers forced other detainees to intimidate and harass him. His condition in prison is of grave concern,” they said.
Dauletmurat Tajimuratov was charged on 31 January 2023 and sentenced to 16 years imprisonment on charges including “conspiracy to seize power or overthrow the constitutional order”, “legalisation of the proceeds of criminal activity”, “organisation of mass riots accompanied by violence” and “preparation and dissemination of materials threatening public security and order”. The sentence was upheld on appeal, although the sentences of 22 other Karakalpak protesters have reportedly been favourably reviewed.
“States have an obligation to refrain from arbitrary arrest or detention, guarantee freedom of expression and association, and ensure the dignity of detainees as human beings without discrimination,” the experts said.
The Special Rapporteurs wrote to the Uzbek Government about the case in August 2023, but have not yet received a reply.
The Experts: Ms. Mary Lawlor (Ireland), Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; Mr. Clément Nyaletsossi Voule (Togo), Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly and of association