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Uzbekistan: 68-year old Human Rights Defender Nuraddin Jumaniyazov dies in detention

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AHRCA and IPHR have learned that wrongfully imprisoned human rights defender Nuraddin Jumaniyazov has died in detention in Uzbekistan. Relatives of the labour rights’ activist Nuraddin Jumaniyazov reported in June 2017 that he died in prison on 31 December 2016. We express our condolences to his relatives, friends and colleagues.
 
Nuraddin Jumaniyazov was born on 8 October 1948 in the city of Turtkul in the autonomous republic of Karakalpakstan in Uzbekistan. He was divorced with two children. In 2003 he founded the Human Rights Center “Mazlum” and in 2012 he helped set up the Union of Independent Trade Unions to Support Labor Migrants and headed its Tashkent branch. In January 2014 he was arrested and charged with people trafficking (Article 135.3 of the Criminal Code) along with his colleague Fakhriddin Tillayev.
 
On 6 March 2014 Shaykhantur District Criminal Court of Tashkent found both men guilty and sentenced Nuraddin Jumaniyazov and Fakhriddin Tillayev to eight years and nine months’ and ten years and eight months’ imprisonment respectively. Both men appealed against the verdict on the grounds that their rights had been violated during the criminal investigation which lasted for under two hours as well as during the court hearing which did not meet fair trial standards. However, in April 2014 the appeal was rejected. The late Polina Braunerg (who died from a stroke on 19 May 2017) acted as defence lawyer for the two human rights activists.
 
Nuraddin Jumaniyazov suffered from severe diabetes and was insulin-dependent. He was last seen in public at the appeal hearing in April 2014, during which he asked his lawyer to help obtain medicines to treat his illness.
 
In October 2014, Polina Braunerg was informed that Nuraddin Jumaniyazov had been transferred to the prison hospital facility “Sangorod – UY 64/18” in Tashkent for treatment. However, she was unable to obtain permission to meet him until April 2015 when she was still unable to visit him because officials of the Main Directorate of Penitentiary authorities (further GUIN)[1] refused to inform her of his precise whereabouts.
 
In July 2015 the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) raised the case with the Uzbekistani government delegation, the chairman of which promised to clarify Nuraddin Jumaniyazov’s whereabouts within two weeks.  AHRCA and IPHR are unaware of any reply from the authorities on this matter.
 
Shortly after the HRC hearing, the authorities increased pressure on Polina Braunerg in Uzbekistan. In July 2015 she again requested permission from GUIN to visit Nuraddin Jumaniyazov and was told he was in prison colony 64/49 in the town of Qarshi in southern Uzbekistan. Officials at Qarshi prison colony told her that her client needed to submit a written request to see her – however the restrictions on communication with prisoners imprisoned on politically motivated grounds meant that Nuraddin Jumaniyazov could not do this as he did not know he had a defence lawyer. The prison officials referred to a hard copy of the Criminal Procedural Code (CPC) where Article 10 provides that in order to see a lawyer a prisoner must submit a written request. Polina Braunerg pointed out that in the internet version of the CPC Article 10 states that “A prisoner can meet his/ her legal representative confidentially at his/ her or at the lawyer’s request.” This resulted in a situation of stalemate which Polina Braunerg tried to resolve by lodging official complaints with the prosecutor’s office and the court. She soon reported receiving anonymous calls with threats of reprisals against her and her son.
 
Unexpectedly, in February 2017 a GUIN official informed Polina Braunerg that Nuraddin Jumaniyazov had been transferred to the prison hospital and that she could meet him.  However, when she got there (intending to pass him medicine to treat his diabetes) she was told he had been transferred to prison colony 64/48 in Navoiy region, central/northwestern Uzbekistan. The Navoiy prison colony officials informed her that they had no such prisoner there.
 
At no point did the authorities inform Nurradin Jumaniyazov’s lawyer that he had died two months previously. Given the pattern of harassment by the Uzbekistani authorities of relatives of prisoners, we do not exclude the possibility that Nurradin Jumaniyazov’s family had come under pressure from the authorities to keep silent about his death and not even inform his defence lawyer.
 
UN standards clearly set out in the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment that all imprisoned persons “shall be treated in a humane manner and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person“[2] ; that an imprisoned person “shall be entitled to communicate and consult with his legal counsel“[3] and that medical care and treatment shall be provided whenever necessary and free of charge.[4]
 
AHRCA and IPHR are concerned that the Uzbekistani authorities failed to adhere to these international standards in Nuraddin Jumaniyazov’s case, and in fact obstructed his right to see his lawyer and to receive the necessary medical care. The treatment of Nuraddin Jumaniyazov reflects a broad pattern of human rights abuses inflicted by the Uzbekistani authorities on human rights defenders, journalists and those who are critical, or perceived to be critical, of state policies.
 
 
[1] Main Administration for Execution of Punishments (GUIN)
[2] Principle 1 UN Body of Principles for the Protection of all Persons under any forms of Detention or imprisonment
[3] Principle 18 UN Body of Principles for the Protection of all Persons under any forms of Detention or imprisonment 
[4] Principle 24 UN Body of Principles for the Protection of all Persons under any forms of Detention or imprisonment