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UN torture committee concerned over Uzbek law enforcement practices

[JURIST] The UN Committee against Torture [official website] said Friday it was concerned about ill-treatment and torture of detainees by Uzbekistan law enforcement officials. The committee issued a report [text] concluding a three-week meeting in Geneva where it reviewed the compliance of six countries with the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment [text]. It commended Uzbekistan's plan to abolish the death penalty, to prohibit introduction into evidence of testimony obtained under torture, and to distribute to all detainees a pamphlet prepared in collaboration with the American Bar Association (ABA) [profession website] explaining detainee rights. The committee nonetheless said it was "concerned at the numerous, ongoing and consistent allegations concerning routine use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment committed by law enforcement and investigative personnel." The report called for Uzbekistan to adopt an official definition of torture, to directly prosecute all individuals involved in such practices, and to ensure independent monitoring of detention and custodial facilities. BBC News has more.

The report comes as Uzbek President Islam Karimov [official profile; BBC profile] has recently registered to run for a third term despite a constitutional bar [JURIST report]. Karimov, who has been president of the former Soviet republic since before independence, has come under international fire for his crackdown against anti-government elements since the May 2005 uprising in Andijan [JURIST news archive] that resulted in the massacre of unarmed Uzbek civilians [JURIST report]. The country's cooperation with the ABA is noteworthy considering its 2006 closing of a local ABA liaison office [JURIST report].

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