Lifting of EU Arms Embargo on Uzbekistan Sends Wrong Message on Human Rights
The European Union's decision yesterday to lift the arms embargo on Uzbekistan sends a message that the country’s egregious human rights record is inconsequential, Freedom House said today, adding that the EU should be unequivocal in its condemnation of human rights abuses.
Despite the lack of any substantive progress in the Uzbek government’s human rights record, the EU has gradually eased the sanctions in recent years. After lifting the suspension of the PCA in 2006 and ending the visa ban in October 2008, the arms embargo remained the only sanction in place against Uzbekistan.
“The EU’s decision to end all sanctions against Uzbekistan is a grave mistake,” said Jennifer Windsor, Freedom House’s executive director. “Uzbekistan has not made any credible efforts to reverse its brutal and sustained repression of civil society, including independent journalists and political dissidents, and the EU’s claim of progress in those areas is unconvincing at best.”
“Instead,” she added, “we call on the EU to take its own declarations on human rights seriously and to uphold them in its dealings with governments that are repeat violators of human rights.”
Freedom House has noted, however, that the situation has not improved in Uzbekistan over the last year, and has cited a number of specific cases highlighting the government’s continuing abuse of basic human rights. At least eight human rights activists and opposition members remain in Uzbek prisons.
Uzbekistan is ranked Not Free in the 2009 edition of Freedom in the World, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in the 2009 version of Freedom of the Press. In 2009, Freedom House included Uzbekistan in its list of the most repressive regimes, along with North Korea, Burma and Turkmenistan.
Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties in Uzbekistan since 1990.
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