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Uzbek officials close local ABA liaison office as NGO crackdown continues

[JURIST] Uzbekistan officials announced Sunday that they will close the local office of the American Bar Association Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative (ABA/CEELI) [advocacy websites], in existence since 1995. The Uzbek Justice Ministry [official website] claims that an inquiry has revealed that the office has acted counter to its charter by setting up and supporting local NGOs with legal assistance and concealing financial documents. ABA/CEELI offices are dedicated to advancing the rule of law by supporting the law reform process in these regions with resident specialists, legal assistance and training, and regional institutional building.

Within the past six months, Uzbekistan [JURIST news archive] has also closed the local offices of the Eurasia Foundation, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and Freedom House [JURIST report], claiming that the organizations were disrupting the country's internal affairs and citing as proof last year's demonstrations in Andijan [HRW backgrounder]. Some 200 domestic nonprofit organizations have also been forced to shut down. International human rights groups have been severely critical of the Uzbek government's tough stance against dissent since the May riots, when government troops opened fire on protestors, killing as many as 500 according to rights group reports. Itar-Tass has more.

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