EU Official to Raise Human Rights on Uzbek Trip

EU Official to Raise Human Rights on Uzbek Trip

Monday, 1 December, 2008
A senior European Union official will raise human rights concerns when he meets Uzbek foreign minister Vladimir Norov during a visit to Tashkent on December 1-2.

Commentators in Uzbekistan are placing high hopes in the visit by the EU Special Representative for Central Asia, Pierre Morel, because he played a major role in securing the release of two imprisoned human rights activists, Umida Niazova and Mutabar Tajibaeva.

On October 13, the EU relaxed sanctions it had imposed in 2005 because the Uzbek government refused to allow an international investigation into the Andijan massacre of May that year. The EU noted a degree of progress on human rights and encouraged the Uzbeks to do more to meet their international obligations.

Yet Tashkent’s record since then has been discouraging – for instance, Agzam Turgunov, head of the Mazlum human rights group, and journalist Solijon Abdrahmanov have both received ten-year jail sentences since the sanctions were eased.

Nadezhda Ataeva, head of the Paris-based Human Rights in Central Asia Association, believes Morel’s visit might improve things for some of the innocent people held in Uzbek jails.

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