KYRGYZSTAN: Confirmation of the sentencing of Mr. Azimjan Askarov to life imprisonmen
Dear President of Kyrgyzstan,
I condemn the confirmation of the sentencing of human rights defender Azimjan Askarov to life imprisonment.
On December 20, 2011, the Kyrgyz Supreme Court upheld the sentence to life imprisonment of Mr. Azimjan Askarov, a well-known ethnic Uzbek defender and Director of the human rights organisation “Vozdukh” (Air), which has been documenting police ill-treatment of detainees and monitoring the human rights situation in the province of Jalal-Abad, in particular the violent events in Bazar Korgon in June 2010. Mr. Askarov was found guilty of killing a policeman during violent clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in the south of Kyrgyzstan, following an unfair and politically motivated trial.
On December 21, 2011, Mr. Askarov, who remains arbitrarily detained in prison colony 47 in Bishkek, announced in a letter to the international community and international NGOs that he would start a hunger strike if a new investigation was not opened before January 9, 2012.
The Observatory recalls that on September 15, 2010, Mr. Azimjan Askarov was sentenced to life imprisonment after he was found guilty of killing a policeman. Other ethnic Uzbeks were also sentenced to long-term imprisonment. On November 10, 2010, the court of appeal upheld Mr. Askarov's life sentence following a trial marked by irregularities.
I considers that the whole judicial case against Mr. Azimjan Askarov merely aims at sanctioning his human rights activities, and remains deeply concerned with the continuing arbitrary detention of Mr. Azimjan Askarov as well as with alleged acts of torture and ill-treatments he was subjected to while in custody.
Accordingly, I call upon the authorities of Kyrgyzstan to guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Azimjan Askarov and to ensure his immediate and unconditional release since his detention is arbitrary as it only aims at sanctioning his human rights activities.
More generally,I reiterates its call for the full respect of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in accordance with the Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, and urges the Kyrgyz authorities to conform with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, and to ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Kyrgyzstan.
I urge you please comply with the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, especially:
- Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,
- Article 6, which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others to know, seek, obtain, receive and hold information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including having access to information as to how those rights and freedoms are given effect in domestic legislative, judicial or administrative systems”,
- Article 9.1 which states that “in the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the promotion and protection of human rights as referred to in the present Declaration, everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to benefit from an effective remedy and to be protected in the event of the violation of those rights”,
- and Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.
More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Kyrgyzstan.
I thank you for your attention to this important matter.
William Nicholas Gomes