Two Uzbek Police Officers Arrested On Charges Of Beating Detainee To Death

Uzbek authorities have arrested two police officers in the southern Surxondaryo region for allegedly beating a detainee to death.

The Prosecutor-General's Office said on July 29 that the officers were charged with abuse of office and premeditated infliction of serious bodily harm, which led to the death in custody of Hasan Hushmatov.

Police brutality in the tightly controlled former Soviet republic has been an issue for decades.

President Shavkat Mirziyoev has sought to portray himself as a reformer since taking over Central Asia's most populous nation of 32 million people after his predecessor Islam Karimov's death in 2016.

Those efforts have included public statements and muted changes targeting Uzbekistan's woeful human rights record.

Mirziyoev signed a decree in June on "additional efforts to reveal and prevent torture cases" and ordered the creation of a commission led by the country's ombudsman to supervise its implementation.

Last week, the Prosecutor-General's Office in the country's Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakistan said it had launched a probe into the death in police custody of a local man in May.

On July 25, another man died in police hands.

Nursoat Muhammadiev's relatives told RFE/RL that police insist he died while being treated at a facility for drug addicts. But they say his body showed signs of having been beaten.

The chairman of the Tashkent-based rights group Ezgulik (Compassion), Abdurahmon Tashanov, told RFE/RL that police brutality has deep roots in Uzbekistan and it will take a long time for efforts to eradicate torture to bring tangible results.

"Just an initiative by the president is not enough," Tashanov said. "If police methods, in general, do not dramatically change, torture in custody will continue."