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Extradited Uzbek Refugees Deprived of a Legal Counsel Right

Written by on Thursday, 30 June 2011
Politics and Society, Uzbekistan
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29 asylum seekers that were extradited earlier this June from Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan, are kept in different places: a building of Tashkent city Main Department of Internal Affairs, a building of Tashkent regional Department of Internal Affairs and Tashkent prison (pre-trial police custody # 64/1 in Tashkent), Expert Working Group (EWG), leading Uzbek independent think-tank reported on June 29, 2011.

Eventhough, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Prosecutor General’s Office investigators haven’t informed the relatives about the charges against the extradited persons, nowadays, they are doing their best to convince the relatives of the extradited persons not to hire lawyers of their own choice to represent their detained loved ones. The investigators are telling the relatives that it is not necessary to hire lawyers and worry about criminal charges against their loved ones — their involvement would be studied during the pre-trial investigation and all would be settled, relatives told the EWG.

In order to calm down the most insistent relatives, investigators and repressive state machine loyal servants are now opposing in every possible way so that the relatives of the extradited persons do not hire lawyers of their own choice. They say that state provided lawyers could be provided anytime. However, EWG experts are pessimistic about that option:

It can be suggested that state provided lawyers are already representing the extradited persons. The practice of the latest cases with religious motives, especially cases opened after well reported shoot outs in the old part of Tashkent, terrorist attacks in Andijon region in 2009, murders, suicide attempts on several public figures in 2009-2010, have demonstrated that the role of legal counsel in general, not speaking about state provided legal counsel is very low and not effective for protecting the rights and interests of the suspect, accused and defendants. In many cases the state provided lawyers have participated just in the beginning and end of the pretrial investigation and then appeared during court hearings. It is obvious that in the case of the extradited persons from Kazakhstan the role of the state provided legal counsel would be in the same way ineffective.

– Expert Working Group press release, June 29, 2011

At this point, relatives are not allowed to visit their detained relatives, food and personal belongings in parcels for the detainees are allowed to be passed.

Experts believe that without participation of independent lawyers and due public attention on the case of the extradited persons all of them would be found guilty and sentenced to different terms of imprisonment. Most likely in terms of full isolation from the outside world and without a proper access to legal counsel during the pre-trial investigation the extradited persons would be subjected to torture, as practice shows torture and pressures of psychological character, says EWG.

The promise of the Uzbek authorities not to subject the extradited persons to torture or similar illtreatment, allow representatives of the international organizations, namely the International Committee of Red Cross and World Health Organization to visit them in detention places sounds unconvincing.

Expert Working Group press release, June 29, 2011

EXPERT WORKING GROUP, Uzbekistan

The Expert Working Group is a non-governmental non-commercial network of independent Uzbek experts and researchers who are engaged in studying the issues of relation between laws and public interests, fundamental human rights and freedoms, rule of law, democratization and liberalization and development of free market economy in Uzbekistan.

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