Boston artist Steve Mills - realistic painting

Monday, April 18, 2011

CENTRAL ASIA-human right's inferno

U.S. State Department has released its 2010 Country Reports on Human Practices. As expected, Central Asian states did not make a significant progress in human rights practices. Vice versa, majority of our region’s countries turned their backs to what we call respect to human rights.

We will start with Uzbekistan because the situation with human rights and political freedoms in this coutnry was “granted” a huge paragraph in the Introduction to the Report. Along with Afghanistan and Pakistan, this Central Asian country, motherland for more than 28 million people, represented a South and Central Asia chapter.

Human rights problems in Uzbekistan included citizens’ inability to change their government peacefully; tightly controlled electoral processes with limited opportunities for choice; instances of torture and mistreatment of detainees by security forces; incommunicado and prolonged detention; occasional life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; denial of due process and fair trial; restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association; governmental control of civil society activity; restrictions on religious freedom including harassment and imprisonment of religious minority group members; restrictions on freedom of movement for citizens; violence against women; and government-compelled forced labor in cotton harvesting.

According to the report, human rights activists and journalists who criticized the government were subject to physical attack, harassment, arbitrary arrest, and politically motivated prosecution and detention. (Read neweurasia’s coverage of one of such cases — Abdumalik Boboev, stringer at Voice of America, has been fined several hudnred minimum monthly wages, adding up to $11,000)

(TAKEN FROM THE INTRODUCTION; we split it in few parts with some minor edits): Uzbekistan continued to incarcerate individuals on political grounds. While one political prisoner, human rights activist Farhad Mukhtarov, was released during the year, 13 to 25 political prisoners remained in custody, and family members reported that many prisoners were tortured. Human rights activists, their family members, and members of certain religious groups reported harassment and arrest by police and other members of the security forces.

Freedom of expression was severely limited and harassment of journalists increased during the year. Police and security services subjected print and broadcast journalists to arrest, intimidation, and violence, as well as to bureaucratic restrictions on their activity.

The criminal and administrative codes imposed significant fines for libel and defamation and the government used charges of libel, slander, and defamation to punish journalists, human rights activists, and others who criticized the president or the government. Freedom of association also was restricted.

The government tightly controlled NGO activity and regulated Islamic and minority religious groups with strict legal restrictions on the types of groups that could be formed and registered. Forced adult and child labor was used during the cotton harvest.

Human rights situation in this country was reported by the following problems: severe limits on citizens’ rights to change their government; military hazing that led to deaths; detainee and prisoner torture and other abuse; unhealthy prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; lack of an independent judiciary; restrictions on freedom of speech, the press, assembly, and association; pervasive corruption, especially in law enforcement and the judicial system; prohibitive political party registration requirements; restrictions on the activities of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); discrimination and violence against women; trafficking in persons; and societal discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender persons, and those with HIV/AIDS.

The list of human rights problems in Kyrgyzstan included: arbitrary killings, torture, and abuse by law enforcement officials; impunity; poor prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; lack of judicial independence; pressure on nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and opposition leaders, including government harassment; pressure on independent media; government detention of assembly organizers; authorities’ failure to protect refugees adequately; pervasive corruption; discrimination against women, persons with disabilities, ethnic and religious minorities, and other persons based on sexual orientation or gender identity; child abuse; trafficking in persons; and child labor.

This country’s report included following human rights issues: restricted right of citizens to change their government; torture and abuse of detainees and other persons by security forces; impunity for security forces; denial of right to fair trial; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; prohibition of international monitor access to prisons; restrictions on freedoms of speech, press, association, and religion; corruption, which hampered democratic and social reform; violence and discrimination against women; arbitrary arrest; and trafficking in persons.

Country report for this authoritarian state says that although there were modest improvements, the government continued to commit serious abuses, and its human rights record remained poor. Authorities continued to severely restrict political and civil liberties. Human rights problems included: citizens’ inability to change their government; torture and mistreatment of detainees; incommunicado and prolonged detention; arbitrary arrest and detention; house arrest; denial of due process and a fair trial; arbitrary interference with privacy, home, and correspondence; restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association; restrictions on religious freedom, including continued harassment of some religious minority group members; restrictions on freedom of movement for some citizens; violence against women; and restrictions on free association of workers. Documentation of abuses was very limited.

The government initiated a broad effort to revise a variety of national laws to bring them into conformity with relevant international conventions. Other measured improvements in human rights included: the registration of two evangelical Christian groups; the pardoning of at least 22 prisoners of interest to the international community, some of whom were associated with the 2002 attack on President Niyazov’s motorcade; removal of external travel restrictions for at least four citizens; elimination of restrictions on internal movement for citizens; reinstatement of a 10th year of mandatory schooling; and establishment of a government commission tasked with bringing Turkmenistan’s practices in line with commitments in international human rights covenants.

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