Kyrgyzstan: Grave failure of justice in Azimjan Askarov’s case
Following today’s decision by the Chui Regional Court to uphold the life sentence of human rights defender and prisoner of conscience, Azimjan Askarov, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia, Denis Krivosheev said:
“Kyrgyzstani justice suffered a major blow today. In deciding not to release Azimjan Askarov, the regional court has brazenly disregarded the country’s international human rights obligations.”
“The UN Human Rights Committee called last year for Azimjan Askarov’s immediate release and the quashing of his conviction, and provided an opportunity for the Kyrgyz authorities’ to reverse a grave injustice. That chance has been squandered.”
“In line with Kyrgyzstan’s obligations under international law and the findings of the UN Human Rights Committee, we urge once again the Kyrgyzstani authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Azimjan Askarov, and provide adequate compensation for this terrible ordeal. The authorities must put an end to this injustice and ensure that human rights defenders are able to work in the country without fear of reprisals.”
Human rights defender Azimjan Askarov was sentenced to life imprisonment in September 2010 following a trial that did not meet international fair trial standards. Azimjan Askarov also reported that he was tortured while in police custody. Azimjan Askarov, an ethnic Uzbek, was accused of being an accomplice to the murder of a police officer during several days of violence between ethnic Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks that took place in southern Kyrgyzstan in June 2010. Three months later he was sentenced to life imprisonment. Amnesty International believes that the charges against Azimjan Askarov were fabricated and politically motivated, and considers him a prisoner of conscience imprisoned solely for his human rights work.
In its decision on Azimjan Askarov’s case in March 2016, the UN Human Rights Committee recognized that Azimjan Askarov was a victim of torture, that he had been arbitrarily detained, that the conditions of his detention were inhumane, and that he was denied his right to a fair trial. Complying with these recommendations the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan viewed his case in July 2016 but instead of releasing the prisoner of conscience his case was referred to Chui Regional Court for additional review.