Thursday, May 3, 2007

Uzbek Human Rights Defender Unjustly Convicted


Contact: Amanda Abrams

Uzbek Human Rights Defender Unjustly Convicted

Washington, D.C.,May 1, 2007
An Uzbek human rights defender, Umida Niyazova, was
sentenced yesterday to seven years in prison in a
hastily scheduled trial that did not meet
international standards, Freedom House said today.

Ms. Niyazova, a former employee of Freedom House who
was employed as a translator for Human Rights Watch at
the time of her arrest, was convicted today and
sentenced to a seven-year prison term for smuggling
extremist literature, illegal border-crossing and
creating or distributing materials threatening public
security and order. Originally scheduled for April 19,
her trial was postponed until yesterday when it began
without any notice to the public. Even Ms. Niyazova’s
attorney was unaware of the change until thirty
minutes before the trial.

Freedom House is also concerned about reports from a
Human Rights Watch representative who was allowed to
observe the hearing that neither Ms. Niyazova nor her
defense witnesses were given time by the judge to
respond to the defense or prosecution’s questions, and
referred only to their written statements.

“Ms. Niyazova’s trial was clearly neither free nor
fair, and the Tashkent Court of Appeals should throw
out her conviction,” said Jennifer Windsor, Executive
Director of Freedom House. “The charges brought
against Ms. Niyazova are false and were simply
politically motivated to silence her work to
peacefully advance human rights in Uzbekistan.”

During her hearing, Ms. Niyazova confessed to the
charge of illegal border crossing but denied the other
two charges brought against her.

Ms. Niyazova’s arrest is just one of the latest
examples of the Uzbek government's campaign to silence
journalists and activists. In the past few months, the
operation has resulted in the imprisonment of at least
three journalists, several criminal cases launched
against independent reporters, and the jailing of
nearly two dozen human rights defenders.

Freedom House, an independent non-governmental
organization that supports the expansion of freedom in
the world, has been monitoring political rights and
civil liberties in Uzbekistan since it became an
independent country in 1991.

For more information on Uzbekistan, visit:

Freedom in the World 2006: Uzbekistan
Freedom of the Press 2007: Uzbekistan
Press Release: Human Rights Supporters Must Demand
Fair Trial for Uzbek Activist, April 18, 2007
Press Release: Freedom House Calls for Immediate
Release of Uzbek Activist, January 30, 2007


Original URL:
Printed: May 3, 2007
Freedom House 1301 Connecticut Ave. NW FL 6,
Washington, D.C. 20036

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