Rights group accuses Uzbekistan of torture in jails
Uzbekistan tortures prisoners in pre-trial detention with rubber truncheons and electric shocks despite boasts of legal reforms, Human Rights Watch rights group said in a report released Tuesday.
The secretive Central Asian state has stepped up its abuses of human rights, the New York-based group warned in a report that slammed the West for taking what it called an "increasingly soft approach on rights in Uzbekistan."
"Credible reports of arbitrary detention and torture of detainees, including several suspicious deaths in custody, have continued," it said, calling for Uzbekistan to comply with the United Nations convention against torture.
"Uzbekistans atrocious human rights record and the position of its independent civil society activists continue to worsen," the New York-based campaign group said.
The report released in Berlin includes interviews with torture victims and their relatives.
The wife of one torture victim, named as Abdumannob A, told the group that her husband was brutally tortured while being investigated for suspected espionage.
"Officers would hang him from the ceiling by his wrists, and eight or nine people one after the other would beat him.
"After nine months I saw him for the first time at the jail. I almost didnt recognize him. When he sat down under the light I saw all the scars on his body."
Uzbekistan has announced legal reforms such as the right of prisoners in pre-trial detention to appeal their status (habeas corpus) and the right to speak to a lawyer after detention, but these are not put into practice, Human Rights Watch said.
It warned that Western governments were failing to put pressure on Uzkbekistan with demands to clean up its rights situation, instead implementing a policy of "quiet diplomacy."
Uzbekistan is used by the US as a route to transport non-lethal supplies to troops in Afghanistan.
"The result of abandoning pressure has been to leave Uzbekistans beleaguered human rights community, independent lawyers, and victims of abuses even further isolated," it said.
It said that it had contacted Uzbek government agencies last month for comment on the report but had not heard back from any of them.
The Uzbek government closed down Human Rights Watch's office in Uzbekistan in June after it had operated for 15 years.
© 2011 AFP