Amnesty International Visits Uzbekistan, First Time In 14 Years

An Amnesty International delegation will be in Uzbekistan this week in what the human rights watchdog describes as the first such visit to the country in 14 years.

A May 22 statement said that Marie Struthers, director of Amnesty's Eastern Europe and Central Asia regional office, and her deputy Denis Krivosheyev are traveling to Uzbekistan at short notice on May 22-25.

The two are scheduled to meet with government officials and civil society representatives, the statement said.

Struthers said the watchdog had prepared a list of recommendations for officials in Tashkent. The list includes establishing "mechanisms for the rehabilitation of all those prosecuted on politically motivated charges" and "impartial and effective investigations of previous human rights abuses."

The last visit by an Amnesty International delegation to Uzbekistan took place in 2004, when delegates of the group attended an international conference on the abolition of the death penalty.

In September 2017, a Human Rights Watch delegation visited Uzbekistan, seven years after its representatives were banned from working inside the country.

Both international organizations have been denied permission to open representative offices in Uzbekistan.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev has taken steps to implement reforms at home and improve ties with the outside world following more than a quarter-century of iron-fisted rule under his predecessor, Islam Karimov.

Prime minister for 13 years, Mirziyoev became interim president after Karimov's death was announced in September 2016. He was then elected president in a tightly controlled vote in December 2016.

In recent months, Mirziyoev has made changes in Uzbekistan's long-feared security services, while several activists and journalists have been freed after years in prison.

"While some positive steps taken by the authorities over the last 18 months are encouraging, especially the prohibition of the use of torture to force confessions, much remains to be done to fully address the grave human rights violations of the past," Struthers said.