Uzbekistan Supreme Court Approves Closure of Human Rights Watch Office

The Uzbekistan Supreme Court approved a decision this week to close Human Rights Watch’s office in Tashkent. The organization received information from the Supreme Court of Uzbekistan that the Justice Ministry was planning to liquidate the Tahkent office and scheduled an initial hearing on March 15.
 
Human Rights Watch has encountered many difficulties in Uzbekistan. Most NGO’s left the country in 2005 after the suppression of demonstrations, and activists and journalists in recent years have been imprisoned and tortured. Since 2005, almost every HRW staff member has had their visas denied or delayed. In 2008, authorities denied accreditation for a former HRW representative and banned him from the country for “not understanding Uzbek culture or traditions.” In July 2009, Uzbekistan deported a HRW research consultant, who was the subject of an attack. In December 2010, authorities denied an HRW researcher his visa, claiming he had “little experience cooperating with Uzbekistan” and “ignored national legislation.”

Freedom House condemns the government of Uzbekistan’s expulsion and ultimate closure of the Human Rights Watch office from Uzbekistan. This action further deteriorates an already dangerous human rights situation by eliminating what is essentially the only remaining organization that can effectively monitor and report on human rights abuses in the Central Asian country.

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