Freedom House Condemns Closure of Human Rights Watch in Uzbekistan

Washington

Freedom House today joins Uzbek human rights organizations in condemning the government of Uzbekistan’s expulsion of Human Rights Watch (HRW) from the country, calling the move an unequivocal strike against transparency and accountability in the Central Asian state.
 
HRW is widely regarded as an international standard bearer in providing objective, well-documented research on human rights cases in countries around the world.  According to a press release issued by the organization on Tuesday, the group had been encountering numerous difficulties in conducting its research in Uzbekistan.  Following the suppression of civic gatherings in the Uzbek city of Andijon in 2005, most international NGOs had left the country either by direct orders of the Uzbek government or because operating conditions in the country became excessively restrictive.  Freedom House was among the groups ordered to leave Uzbekistan at that time.
 
“What this action shows is the undeniable credibility gap between statements made by Uzbek president Islam Karimov and the actions of his government,” said David J. Kramer, executive director of Freedom House. “It defies reason that Karimov would on one hand give an impassioned speech before the United Nations General Assembly on violations of human rights by others, only to then expel a group like Human Rights Watch from his own country.  Policymakers in the United States and European capitals must now take such actions into account when weighing the purported benefits of engagement with the Uzbek regime.”
 
In November of last year, Karimov pledged a number of reforms including the “humanization” of his country’s criminal code.  The Government of Uzbekistan recently released a National Action Plan to implement the various promises made by Karimov. However, the closure of HRW’s office raises serious questions about whether Uzbekistan has any intention of pursuing the reforms or liberalization that official statements suggest are in process.
 
Freedom House includes Uzbekistan among the world’s worst human rights abusers. The country is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2011, Freedom House’s annual global survey of political rights and civil liberties and Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2010.
 
For more information on Uzbekistan, visit:
 
 
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights. 
 
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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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