NEW YORK (July 8, 2020) — The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) today submitted an Urgent Appeal to the Special Procedures of the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, requesting that it initiate an immediate formal investigation into the wrongful arrest, unwarranted charges, and ongoing detention of ethnic Uzbek human rights activist, Azimjan Askarov, in Kyrgyzstan.
Mr. Askarov worked as the director of Kyrgyzstan’s human rights organization “Air” and was involved in monitoring citizens’ complaints about the actions of the Bazar-Korgon district police station and places of detention, as well as performing investigations into the deaths of persons held in police custody. Mr. Askarov was particularly well-known for his investigation of cases of gross human rights violations by members of the Bazar-Korgon District Department of the Interior, some of which resulted in job losses for the law enforcement and prosecution personnel involved.
Mr. Askarov was wrongfully convicted, on fabricated charges, for his alleged role in the murder of a police inspector during Kyrgyzstan’s ethnic conflict that erupted in 2010. Since his arrest and detention, Mr. Askarov has been subjected to ongoing physical and psychological torture, including severe beatings, death threats, and other forms of assault. Domestic complaints submitted by Mr. Askarov and his legal team relating to this torture, have been rejected. In addition, Mr. Askarov suffers from numerous ailments and has not received proper medical attention in prison, placing him at even higher risk of infection with COVID-19.
In 2016, the U.N. Human Rights Committee recognized Mr. Askarov as a victim of torture, ill-treatment, and unfair trial by the State of Kyrgyzstan and called for his release. Most recently, in May 2020, Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Court dismissed Mr. Askarov’s request to review his life sentence. He remains in prison, despite his deteriorating health, and should be released immediately.
“Mr. Askarov has been arbitrarily detained for 10 years, despite international rulings calling for his immediate release,” said HRF international legal associate, Michelle Gulino. “Kyrgyzstan’s latest Supreme Court decision in Mr. Askarov’s case is yet another example of an outright miscarriage of justice and a failure to adhere to international norms and legal obligations relating to fair trials.”
The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.
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