UNITED NATIONS

Press Release



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HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
CONCERNED OVER OUTCOME OF TRIAL OF
MEN TIED TO ANDIJAN EVENTS

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14 November 2005
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour today expressed concern over the conviction in Tashkent of 15 men accused of crimes in connection with the events in the Uzbek city of Andijan last May.

The High Commissioner said the trial that ended today had been marred by allegations of irregularities, and that serious questions remained about its fairness

“There are doubts about the adequacy of the defense, and it appears that little evidence was presented during the trial, apart from confessions”, she said. All of the defendants admitted their guilt at the outset of trial, echoing the accusations by the prosecution.

“This is particularly worrisome as information from independent sources is greatly at odds with those confessions”, she said. According to reports, the men’s lawyers were State-appointed and although present at the proceedings, did not adequately represent the 15.

Mrs. Arbour recalled that on 29 September she had offered to send a monitor to the proceedings in order to help determine their conformity with international fair-trial standards, provided the monitor would be given access to case files and places of detention. The Uzbek Government did not agree to that proposal.

The High Commissioner, who has consistently called for an international inquiry into the events in Andijan, urged the Government of Uzbekistan to ensure that the 15 persons convicted today can enjoy their right to appeal. Noting that the trial that concluded today may be the first in a series in connection with the Andijan events, she called on the authorities to abide scrupulously by the international fair trial standards they have freely accepted. She also reiterated her offer to send a monitor to future proceedings.

In a report issued last June following an Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) mission to neigbouring Kyrgyzstan to interview survivors of the Andijan events, the High Commissioner said there was strong, consistent and credible testimony to the effect that Uzbek military and security forces had committed grave human rights violations, mostly of the right to life. The findings of the report varied greatly with the version of events given by the authorities as outlined in the trial.