20 December 2005

Special Rapporteur Calls on Germany to Put Uzbekistan's Interior Minister on Trial for Crimes of Torture

(Reissued as received.)

GENEVA, 19 December -- The Special Rapporteur on torture of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, Manfred Nowak, issued the following statement on Friday, 16 December:

"The Special Rapporteur on torture calls on the German authorities to initiate a criminal investigation and prosecute Zokirjon Almatov, Uzbekistan's Minister of Internal Affairs, currently in Germany to receive medical treatment, for crimes of torture.  This is in light of the fact that on 12 December 2005, several survivors of torture filed a case against him in the German courts.

"The previous Special Rapporteur carried out a visit to the country in late 2002 and concluded that torture is systematic in Uzbekistan.  He also said that torture appears to be used indiscriminately against persons charged with serious crimes, such as acts against State interests, as well as petty criminals and others.  These concerns are exacerbated by the findings of a report of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of July 2005, which, on the basis of consistent, credible eyewitness testimony, found that during events in Andijan in May 2005, the military and security forces committed grave human rights violations while curbing demonstrations.

"The Special Rapporteur recalls that victims of torture have a right to legal redress crimes of torture, that torture is subject to universal jurisdiction and that States are under the obligation to investigate allegations of torture, independently of where such acts have occurred."

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