TASHKENT/JUNE 13 (The Bulletin) — The authorities in Uzbekistan are facing questions over police techniques and brutality after the death of a man in police custody.
Media reported that three policemen in the eastern city of Andijan have been arrested and charged with murder and torture. The country’s Prosecutor-General said that the arrests were made on June 1 after Alijon Abdukarimov, who had been in their custody, died in hospital. Photographs taken by Abdukarimov’s relatives showed him unconscious and with bruising around his face and arms.
The Uzbek news website gazeta.uz interviewed Uzbekistan’s human rights ombudsman, Ulugbek Muhammadiev. He said that torture was still used by the Uzbek police to force confessions from people that they arrest.
“The issue of torture has left a stain on Uzbekistan for many years,” he was quoted by gazeta.uz as saying in the interview. “Each year we receive over 100 complaints about the use of torture.”
Progress has been made, though, as even a few years ago police would probably have avoided any scrutiny for Abdukarimov’s death.
Even so, the allegations against the police will embarrassment and frustrate the government President Shavkat Mirziyoyev which has been trying to improve Uzbekistan’s image, part of a process designed to open up the country to Western businesses. It also comes at a time of heightened scrutiny of police around the world. The death in May of George Floyd while he was in police custody in Minneapolis in the United States triggered an outpouring of anger against racism and police brutality.
It is not clear why Abdukarimov was detained by the police. Eurasianet, a news website, said that he had been a jewellery trader.
— This story was first published in issue 450 of the weekly Central Asia & South Caucasus Bulletin