Saturday, 24 November 2007

Substantial Grounds

Why it is illegal under international law (and of course utterly morally wrong) for the UK to deport dissidents such as Jahongir Sidikov to Uzbekistan.

The UK is a state party1,2 of the UN Convention Against Torture3, Article 3 of which states that:

1. No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.

2. For the purpose of determining whether there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights.

Craig Murray, ex British Ambassador to Uzbekistan resigned from the Foreign Office in February 2005 over Western support for the brutal dictatorship of Islam Karimov in Uzbekistan4. Prior to that he was removed from his post as Ambassador following the leaking of a memo that stated that Uzbek security services abuse prisoners, to extract often dubious information, or even to kill.5
"We are selling our souls for dross" - Craig Murray5
Craig Murray is not the only human rights campaigner raising the issue of torture in Uzbekistan.

Amnesty International's 2005 report on Uzbekistan6 stated that "Evidence reportedly obtained under torture was routinely admitted in court and there was no presumption of innocence" and that the death penalty, including "secret executions" is continuing on a large scale.

Human Rights Watch released a 92-page report entitled 'Nowhere to Turn: Torture and Ill-treatment in Uzbekistan' (PDF) earlier this month7. In it, it is stated that "torture remains a serious problem" (under 'The Scope of Torture'). Surat Ikramov of the Initiative Group of Independent Human Rights Defenders is quoted in the report as follows:
“Everyone who comes in [to talk to me] says there is torture. In fact, I do not remember a single case where someone was held in detention and not tortured.”
Human Rights Watch describe common methods of torture to include: "Beatings with truncheons and bottles filled with water, electric shock, asphyxiation with plastic bags and gas masks, sexual humiliation, and threats of physical harm to relatives.". In 2002, two religious prisoners, Muzafar Avazov and Husnidin Alimov were tortured to death8. In 2005, human rights activist Elena Urlaeva was committed to a psychiatric institution and forcibly drugged for distributing anti-Karimov material9.

Repression of human rights activists and dissidents is reported by Human Rights Watch to have worsened significantly since the 2005 Andijan massacre, in which hundreds of unarmed protesters were killed by Uzbek security forces in the city of Andijan in Eastern Uzbekistan10.

Finally, the US Department of State reported on Human Rights in Uzbekistan in 200611,12, and found that:
"Security forces routinely tortured, beat, and otherwise mistreated detainees under interrogation to obtain confessions or incriminating information."Section 1(c) of this United States Government report describes several instances of torture in detail, including two human rights activists, Azam Farmonov and Alisher Karamatov, who were reportedly:
"...[Subjected] to torture and abuse during pretrial detention before their June 15 conviction (see section 4), including dropping them onto concrete floors, forcing needles under their fingernails, suffocating them with gas masks, and burning their skin with lighted cigarettes." - US Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor12

Once again, it is illegal under International Law to expel or return a person to a state where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.

If the above does not constitute substantial grounds, what the hell does?

Jahongir Sidikov must stay in Britain.

8. (Horrific images)

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