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HRW: Uzbek government should free everyone imprisoned on politically motivated charges under its Constitution Day amnesty.

The Uzbek government should free everyone imprisoned on politically motivated charges under its Constitution Day amnesty, Human Rights Watch and the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia said December 18.

The authorities should also carry out an effective investigation into the September 2014 death in custody of Nilufar Rahimjonova, a 37-year-old woman imprisoned on politically motivated charges, the groups said.

The Uzbek government has imprisoned thousands of people on politically motivated charges, including human rights and opposition activists, journalists, religious believers, artists, and other perceived critics. Some are in serious ill-health or have been tortured, and sentences for some were arbitrarily extended while they were in prison.

"The Uzbek government has imprisoned and tortured some of the world's longest-held political activists, independent journalists, and other peaceful figures," said Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch.

"The Uzbek government should use this opportunity to free all those who were wrongfully imprisoned for the peaceful exercise of basic rights, as well as those whose sentences have been arbitrarily extended."

Following Constitution Day on December 7, Uzbek authorities announced an amnesty, potentially applicable to thousands of prisoners, over the next several months.

As in past years, this year's amnesty applies to those convicted of less serious offenses and to specific demographic categories such as women and prisoners over 60. But those imprisoned on politically motivated charges are rarely released even when they meet the criteria. Even if they are released, however, the amnesty's terms leave the original unlawful convictions intact.

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Publication:AKIpress News Agency
Date:Dec 19, 2014
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