No. 67/2012 (Uzbekistan)
Communication addressed to the Government on 12 April 2012
Concerning Dilmurod Saidov
The Government replied to the communication on 19 June 2012.
The State is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and
1. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention was
established in resolution 1991/42 of the former Commission on Human
Rights, which extended and clarified the Working Group's mandate in
its resolution 1997/50. The Human Rights Council assumed the
mandate in its decision 2006/102 and extended it for a three-year
period in its resolution 15/18 of 30 September 2010. In accordance
with its methods of work (A/HRC/16/47, annex, and Corr.1), the
Working Group transmitted the above-mentioned communication to the
2. The Working Group regards deprivation of
liberty as arbitrary in the following cases:
(a) When it is clearly impossible to invoke any
legal basis justifying the deprivation of liberty (as when a person
is kept in detention after the completion of his or her sentence or
despite an amnesty law applicable to the detainee) (category
(b) When the deprivation of liberty results from
the exercise of the rights or freedoms guaranteed by articles 7,
13, 14, 18, 19, 20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights and, insofar as States parties are concerned, by articles
12, 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 26 and 27 of the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights (category II);
(c) When the total or partial non-observance of
the international norms relating to the right to a fair trial,
established in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in the
relevant international instruments accepted by the States
concerned, is of such gravity as to give the deprivation of liberty
an arbitrary character (category III);
(d) When asylum seekers, immigrants or refugees
are subjected to prolonged administrative custody without the
possibility of administrative or judicial review or remedy
(e) When the deprivation of liberty constitutes a
violation of international law for reasons of discrimination based
on birth; national, ethnic or social origin; language; religion;
economic condition; political or other opinion; gender; sexual
orientation; or disability or other status, and which aims towards
or can result in ignoring the equality of human rights (category
Communication from the source
3. Dilmurod Saidov, a national of Uzbekistan, born
in XXXX, holder of passport No. CAXXXXXXX, issued by the Ministry
of Internal Affairs on 18 May 2007, usually residing in Sabir
Rakhimov district of Kara-Kamish 2/5, 14, 2, Tashkent, Uzbekistan,
is a prominent journalist and human rights activist. He is also a
member of the human rights organization Ezgulik. He has published
numerous articles critical of the authorities of Uzbekistan
appearing in local newspapers, including Advokat-Press,
Darachki, and Qishloq Hayoti. His articles have
also been published by many Internet news agencies such as Voice of
Freedom or Uznews.net.
4. Mr. Saidov has allegedly been under pressure
from the authorities since 2005 after he had criticized human
rights violations in Uzbekistan in an article published in
Advokat-Press newspaper. He was subsequently fired from
that newspaper agency. As a freelance journalist, he continued to
report on alleged instances of corruption in Samarkand, Uzbekistan
and accused Government officials of impoverishing regional farmers.
Prior to his arrest, Mr. Saidov was investigating, on farmers'
behalf, allegations of theft and illegal land appropriation by the
Agricultural Equipment and Tractor Park in Djambay (Jomboy)
district, Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Between 3 September 2008 and 16
February 2009, Mr. Saidov petitioned various Government bodies,
including the Office of the Samarkand Prosecutor and the Prosecutor
General of Uzbekistan. The Djambay district's Department of
Internal Affairs established a special commission to review the
complaints and investigate the company.
Circumstances of arrest and charges brought
against Mr. Saidov
5. On the evening of 22 February 2009, Mr. Saidov
was arrested at his residence by officers of the Tashkent branch of
the Division for Combating Tax, Currency Crimes and Legalization of
Criminal Proceeds under the General Prosecutor's Office in
Uzbekistan. Mr. Saidov was placed in TB Zone No. 36, Navoiy,
Uzbekistan where he remains.
6. Mr. Saidov was charged with extortion and
forgery under articles 165, paragraph 3; 228, paragraph 2 (b); and
229, paragraph 3, of the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan. The Tashkent
Branch of the Prosecutor General's Office accused Mr. Saidov of
extortion on the basis of a statement made by Asliddin Urinboev,
the head of the Agricultural Equipment and Tractor Park in the
Djambay district of the Samarkand Region. Mr. Urinboev claimed
that, on 17 February 2009, Mr. Saidov had sought to extort 15,000
US dollars from him with the help of Marguba Juraeva. Ms. Juraeva
was also arrested on 22 February 2009 at Yulduz, a restaurant in
Samarkand. She was arrested immediately after Mr. Urinboev
allegedly handed her 10,000 US dollars in cash, and was also
charged with extortion. Ms. Juraeva allegedly gave a written
statement indicating that she had committed extortion on Mr.
Saidov's behalf. The following day, she allegedly recanted her
statement, stating that she had given it under the influence of
7. In mid-March 2009, a second charge of extortion
was brought against Mr. Saidov on the basis of an allegation made
by Saydullo Baymuradov, the head of the privatized collective farm
"Uzbekistan". Mr. Baymuradov claimed that Mr. Saidov had tried to
extort 5,000 US dollars from him in 2004.
8. In April 2009, the Tashkent Branch of the
General Prosecutor's Office also charged Mr. Saidov with forgery on
the basis of accusations made by the Djambay farmers who alleged
that he had falsified documents giving himself power of attorney to
Trial and sentencing of Mr. Saidov
9. Along with Mr. Saidov, three co-defendants were
brought to trial on charges of extortion and forgery: Marguba
Juraeva, Anorkul Pulatov and Tura Ergashev. All of them were
accused of conspiring with Mr. Saidov to extort money from Mr.
Urinboev and Mr. Baymuradov, as well as forging the power of
10. According to the information received, the
court's hearings were repeatedly conducted without notice being
given to Mr. Saidov's defence lawyer.
11. On 25 February 2009, a first hearing was held
in Samarkand City Court with the view to determining whether there
was sufficient evidence for Mr. Saidov's arrest. Mr. Saidov's
lawyer was not informed of the hearing and was not present when the
evidence was reviewed. Mr. Saidov's lawyer allegedly appealed the
court's decision, but was not informed of the appeal hearing
12. It is reported that 6 of the 10 farmers who
had initially claimed that Mr. Saidov forged the power of attorney
testified at the trial that their original written statement had
been false. It is alleged that one witness testified that he had
been detained and held for two days in a pretrial detention
facility to pressure him to make allegations against Mr.
13. It is further reported that many documents
that the defence handed over to the investigator during the
pretrial investigation, including the original notarized copy of
Mr. Saidov's power to attorney from the farmers, disappeared during
14. The source points out that the prosecution
based its case against Mr. Saidov only on the written statements
obtained from witnesses during the investigation phase. Many of
those statements were allegedly rescinded during the trial.
15. Six of the prosecution's main witnesses, five
of which were serving as chairpersons in different local farms,
provided written statements that they had signed and put farm seal
on a blank paper without allegedly knowing what their end use was.
Moreover, one of those six witnesses, Jamshid Rustamov, testified
that it was not him but his son who had signed and put a farm seal
on his behalf on a blank paper. Yet another witness, Rayim
Egamberdiev, allegedly testified that there was something written
on the paper, that he did not remember what was written on it and
nevertheless signed and sealed it.
16. During Mr. Saidov's trial, the court allowed
only a very limited group of people to attend the proceedings.
Among those who were granted permission to attend the trial were
Mr. Saidov's family members, his defence lawyer and public
defender. The court did not provide any specific reasons for
limiting access to the proceedings by foreign officials or
representatives of human rights organizations.
17. On 30 July 2009, the Tayloq District Court in
Samarkand convicted Mr. Saidov and sentenced him to 12 years and
six months in prison under articles 165 (extortion) and 228
(forgery) of the Uzbek Criminal Code. Mr. Saidov's co-defendants
were also convicted. The court sentenced Mr. Pulatov to 12 years in
prison, and Mr. Ergashev and Ms. Juraeva to 11 years each. The
presiding judge on the case began reading the decision without
considering the motions of the defence. The verdict was passed
behind closed doors.
18. On 11 September 2009, the Samarkand Regional
Appeal Court left the decision of the trial court unchanged.
19. In July 2010, Mr. Saidov wrote an open letter
to the Secretary-General of the United Nations and several
international human rights organizations, reporting that he had
been diagnosed with tuberculosis and was being denied adequate
20. On 7 January 2010, the Tashkent Public
Prosecutor's Office interrogated several independent journalists
working in Uzbekistan. During the interrogation of Khusniddin
Kutbiddinov, one of the independent journalists, Bakhrom Nurmatov,
an Assistant Public Prosecutor of Tashkent, asked him if he had any
relations with Mr. Saidov's family or cooperated with human rights
21. During a meeting in late February 2010, Mr.
Saidov asked his lawyer to submit a written statement that he had
prepared to the Supreme Court of Uzbekistan. On 10 August 2010, the
Supreme Court upheld Mr. Saidov's conviction and prison term. On 11
August 2010, Mr. Saidov's family made a direct appeal to the
Ombudsperson for Human Rights Sayora Rashidova, who met with the
family and promised to study the situation. However, she sent a
written response to the family on 9 November 2010, informing that
her office had no jurisdiction over the matter. On 8 February 2011,
the family again tried to have Mr. Saidov's case reviewed and sent
a complaint to the President's Office. On 15 March 2011, the family
received a response from the Supreme Court informing them that
their complaint to the President's Office had been forwarded to the
Supreme Court and that the Court had dismissed their request.
22. Reportedly, the authorities have further
accused Mr. Saidov of multiple prison regime violations preventing
him from being eligible for the 2010 amnesty granted by the
Government of Uzbekistan. When a relative went to visit Mr. Saidov
in prison on 27 April 2011, the prison authorities told him that
Mr. Saidov had been put into a punishment cell for allegedly
violating prison regulations, but would not say which ones. As of
February 2011, Mr. Saidov had been in a punishment cell five
The source's contention regarding the alleged
arbitrary character of Mr. Saidov's detention
23. First, the source maintains that Mr. Saidov's
detention on charges of extortion and forgery is arbitrary as it
results from the exercise of his right to freedom of expression and
the right to participate in public affairs. The source points out
that the extortion and forgery charges against Mr. Saidov were
fabricated and brought as a means to punish and silence him for his
political and public activism as well as his record in defending
the rights of the farmers. His arrest was preceded by the
investigations that Mr. Saidov conducted into the allegations of
illegal land appropriation by the Agricultural Equipment and
Tractor Park in Samarkand's Djambay (Jomboy) district, Samarkand,
Uzbekistan. Previously, Mr. Saidov's investigative journalism had
resulted in numerous convictions of Government officials. For
example, based on the farmers' complaints, Mr. Saidov investigated
the activities of the "Uzbekistan" collective farm and subsequently
published two articles summarizing his findings in the local
newspaper Qishloq Hayoti ("Farm Life") in May and September 2004.
As a result of these publications, charges were brought against the
administration of the farm that resulted in convictions.
24. The source further points to the fact that in
its interrogations of several independent journalists, the Tashkent
Public Prosecutor's Office focused almost exclusively on Dilmurod
Saidov's case. The fact that Mr. Saidov was singled out and listed
along with reputable human rights organizations in the country also
demonstrates, according to the source, that he was targeted and
detained for political and public activism.
25. In the light of the foregoing, the source
submits that there is a genuine link between Mr. Saidov's
activities as an investigative journalist and as a human rights
defender and his detention, trial and sentencing to 12 years'
imprisonment. The source conveys that the authorities of Uzbekistan
allegedly breached articles 19 and 25 (a) of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and articles 19 and 21,
paragraph 1, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The
source also points to the alleged violations of articles 29 and 32
of the Constitution of Uzbekistan.
26. Second, the source maintains that the
detention of Mr. Saidov is arbitrary as a result of partial or
total non-observance of international norms relating to the right
to a fair trial.
27. In particular, the source evokes the following
violations: article 14, paragraph 3 (d), of the Covenant and
article 51 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of Uzbekistan, as Mr.
Saidov did not benefit from an unimpeded and effective access to a
lawyer. He was allegedly denied legal assistance at crucial stages
of criminal proceedings as described in the section above
concerning his trial and sentencing; article 14, paragraph 1, of
the Covenant, article 10 of the Universal Declaration and article
19 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of Uzbekistan as the court
allowed only a very limited number of people to attend the trial;
the court failed to provide any justification in denying access to
foreign officials and independent observers; in one instance, the
court hearing was closed due to alleged security concerns;
similarly, according to the source, a hearing was not held by an
impartial and independent tribunal (as described in the section
concerning trial, the alleged irregularities include: the treatment
of witness testimonies, a number of which were subsequently
recanted; reliance of untrustworthy written statements relating to
the charges of forgery; the loss by the investigation unit of the
document containing the original power of attorney).
28. The source also evokes the following
violations: article 14 of the Covenant, article 11 of the Universal
Declaration and article 23 of the Uzbek Code of Criminal Procedure,
as Mr. Saidov was reportedly denied the right to be presumed
innocent until proven guilty. The source reports that Sukhrab
Madidov, an investigator in the case of Mr. Saidov, told the
latter's relatives that the case had been ordered "from above",
implying that the verdict would result in Mr. Saidov's
imprisonment. Furthermore, the presiding judge on the case read the
decision of the court without considering the motions of the
defence which, according to the source, indicates that the case had
been decided in advance of any deliberations.
Response from the Government
29. By letter dated 19 June 2012, the Government
of Uzbekistan conveyed its response to the Working Group.
30. The Government points out that Mr. Saidov was
tried and sentenced for a series of different crimes in the past.
The Government briefly describes past periods of detention. The
ongoing detention of Mr. Saidov relates to the criminal case as
31. On 17 February 2009, the competent authorities
of the Samarkand region were seized with a complaint from the chair
of the Agricultural Equipment and Tractor Park, Mr. Urinboev. The
complaint concerned allegations of extortion by Mr. Saidov, Ms.
Zuraeva and others of 15,000 US Dollars. In the course of criminal
investigation undertaken on 22 February 2009 Ms. Zuraeva was
arrested at the Yulduz restaurant in Samarkand when receiving
10,000 US Dollars from Mr. Urinboev.
32. Mr. Saidov was charged under articles 165,
paragraph 3 (a), (b) and (c) (aggravated extortion); 228, paragraph
2 (b) (forgery); and 228, paragraph 3 (use of a forged document) of
the Criminal Code of Uzbekistan. Mr. Saidov was taken into custody
by order of the Samarkand City Court.
33. Mr. Saidov was sentenced by Taylyaksksy
Regional Court to 12 years and 6 months' of imprisonment and
convicted of extortion (article 165, paragraph 3 (a) of the
Criminal Code), forgery (article 228, paragraph 2 (b)) of the
Criminal Code and use of forged document (article 228, paragraph 3,
of the Criminal Code). The sentence was upheld by the Samarkand
Appeal Court on 11 September 2009.
34. The Court found that Mr. Saidov, while hiding
behind his work as a journalist, entered into a criminal enterprise
with Mr. Pulatov. Under the threat of spreading information
affecting the honour and integrity of the former head the
privatized collective farm "Uzbekistan" Mr. Chuzakulov and the
incumbent head Mr. Boymuradov, Mr. Saidov tried to extort from Mr.
Boymuradov 5,000 US Dollars. When Mr. Boymuradov refused to give
the money, Mr. Saidov published the above information in the
35. Further, Mr. Saidov, in a criminal enterprise
with Mr. Pulatov, Ms. Zuraeva and Mr. Ergashev aimed at producing
forged documents, received blank papers with signatures and stamps
from the heads of six different collective farms. The Government
provides names of these farms and their chairs and states that Mr.
Saidov threatened Mr. Urinboev to use the abovementioned papers to
spread complaints with information offending the honour and
integrity of Mr. Urinboev. In doing so, Mr. Saidov attempted to
extort 15,000 US Dollars from Mr. Urinboev.
36. During the hearing, Ms. Zuraeva in presence of
her lawyer Mr. Yahyaev stated that in the beginning of February
2009 she had informed Mr. Saidov of Mr. Urinboev's request not to
make any further public statements. Mr. Saidov demanded 13,000 US
Dollars in return from Mr. Urinboev. Ms. Zuraeva transmitted this
request to Mr. Urinboev through a third party Mr. Makhmudov. Mr.
Urinboev agreed to give the requested amount and this fact was
corroborated in court by both himself and the witness Mr.
37. The present criminal case does not contain
objective evidence that Ms. Zuraeva recanted any of her initial
statements allegedly under the influence of alcohol.
38. The Government further informs that the
allegation according to which Mr. Saidov's case was examined in
court without a legal counsel is unfounded.
39. At the pretrial stage, Mr. Saidov was
interrogated in presence of his lawyer Mr. Komulov. During the
trial, Mr. Saidov received the assistance of his lawyer Mr.
Makhbukhov. In addition, Mr. Tashanov, the Chair of the Tashkent
human rights organization Ezgulik was also present during the trial
in the role of public defender.
40. The Government maintains that the allegation
that the six farmers refused to give testimony about Mr. Saidov's
acts of forgery is also baseless.
41. At the pretrial investigation and trial
stages, the heads of the collective farms explained that in summer
2008, Mr. Ergashev (in a criminal enterprise with Mr. Saidov)
introduced Mr. Saidov as a lawyer, who would be in position to
assist them with any relevant legal matters. In this context, the
heads of the collective farms handed to Mr. Saidov blank papers
signed and stamped, without however knowing the ultimate use of
these papers. None of the heads of the collective farms recanted
their original statements contrary to what is submitted by the
source. In the course of the trial, all these witnesses confirmed
that they had not authorized in any way Mr. Saidov to legally
represent their interests.
42. Similarly, the allegations concerning Mr.
Saidov's torture or ill-treatment are unfounded. No complaint has
been filed in this respect neither by Mr. Saidov nor his
43. Upon his placement in prison, Mr. Saidov was
subject to the complete medical examination. In March 2010, he was
diagnosed with tuberculosis and placed in section 64/18 of the
prison hospital. After successful treatment, Mr. Saidov was
transferred to section 64/36 (Navoiy) on 20 September 2011. His
medical condition is closely monitored. He continues to receive
tuberculosis treatment with a programme called Dots Plus.
44. During his prison term, Mr. Saidov has on five
occasions violated prison's rules and was subjected to disciplinary
measures. Compliance with the prison regime within the terms of the
applicable Uzbek legislation cannot be regarded as affecting the
rights and legitimate interests of the prisoners. Prison
administration considers Mr. Saidov as a particularly dangerous
prisoner and hence did not consider applicable any amnesty measures
to his case.
45. According to paragraph 8 (a) of the Decision
of the Senate of Oliy Majlis, dated 5 December 2011 "On Amnesty",
the scope of amnesty is not extended to those individuals who
systematically violate prison regime rules. During his prison term,
Mr. Saidov was accorded one short and three longer family
46. In the light of the foregoing information, the
Government contests the validity of the allegations received from
47. First, the Government states that articles 19
and 25 (a) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights and articles 19 and 27, paragraph 1, of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights were not violated in the case of Mr.
Saidov. Actions such as extraction under aggravated circumstances,
forgery of official documents and the use of forged document, of
which Mr. Saidov was charged and convicted, are punishable under
the applicable legislation in Uzbekistan.
48. Second, the detention of Mr. Saidov is in
compliance with article 14, paragraph 3 (d) of the Covenant and
article 51 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of Uzbekistan. From
the outset of investigation, Mr. Saidov was granted an unimpeded
and effective access to his lawyers. Yhayaev, Komilov and
49. Third, the Government states that the
detention of Mr. Saidov is in conformity with article 14, paragraph
1, of the Covenant, article 10 of the Universal Declaration and
article 19 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of Uzbekistan. The
trial was conducted publicly by a competent, independent and
impartial tribunal established in accordance with the law. The
allegation that the six central witnesses recanted original
statements incrimination Mr. Saidov is unfounded.
50. Fourth, Mr. Saidov's right to presumption of
innocence pursuant to articles 14 of the Covenant, 11 of the
Universal Declaration, 26 of the Constitution of Uzbekistan and 23
of the Code of Criminal Procedure was respected.
Further comments from the source
51. The Government reply was transmitted to the
source for comments on 27 June 2012. In its further comments of 21
August 2012, the source upheld its allegations and their factual
basis. It states that the Government has provided inadequate
replies and that the Government "did not refute that the charges
against Mr. Saidov were fabricated" and failed to address the
procedural violations. According to the source, the Government's
insufficient and superficial responses are further evidence that
the prosecution was politically motivated to punish Mr. Saidov for
his independent journalism and human rights activities.
52. In this case, the question for the Working
Group is whether the deprivation of liberty is the result of the
exercise of the rights and freedoms in articles 19 (freedom of
opinion and expression) of the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights. In cases of human rights defenders, there is a relationship
between these rights of expression and fair trial rights in
articles 9 of the Universal Declaration and the Covenant.
53. The Government has responded to the
information from the source by accounting for the formal steps of
the criminal process against Mr. Saidov. It has denied the
allegations about violations of procedural rights and of
maltreatment. The source has robustly upheld its allegations and
their factual basis. The Working Group is not in a position to make
findings on these issues in the light of the information submitted
to it in the case.
54. The Government has confirmed that Mr. Saidov
has been sentenced to 12 years and 6 months' imprisonment for
involvement in extortion and other criminal offences.
55. The Working Group notes that Mr. Saidov is
involved in work as a human rights defender. The Government argues
that he has abused this work for financial gain in a way which
constitutes the criminal offences of which he has been convicted,
and the source contents that Mr. Saidov's detention is a direct
consequence of his exercise of the right to freedom of expression
as guaranteed inter alia by article 19 of the Covenant.
56. The Working Group has considered the
relationship between the detention and prosecution of Mr. Saidov
and his exercise of the fundamental rights to freedom of expression
and association in his work as a human rights defender. The Working
Group subjects cases to a heightened scrutiny when article 19
rights and work as human rights defenders are involved. The source
alleges that the detention is a direct consequence and has no other
grounds. The Government's reply is helpful in providing the dates
and other formal aspects of the criminal procedures and other steps
relating to his detention and sentencing.
57. The severe reaction of 12 years and 6 months'
imprisonment and the possible restriction on article 19 and article
9 rights and the work as human rights defender in this case put a
heavy burden on the Government to show that the harsh punishment
was not discriminatory due to his human rights activities. The
alleged disproportionate severity of the sentence demands a higher
threshold for the Government to satisfy this heightened scrutiny
review. However, the Working Group would have needed further
information from the Government in effect invalidating the
allegations of the source that the sentences were disproportionate.
The Working Group thus finds that there are breaches of the human
rights guarantees in articles 19 and 9 of the Universal Declaration
and the Covenant.
58. The arbitrary detention falls within category
II of the arbitrary detention categories referred to by the Working
Group when considering cases submitted to it. The appropriate
remedy in this case is the retrial of Mr. Saidov as well as
adequate reparation to him in accordance with article 9, paragraph
5, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
59. In the light of the preceding, the Working
Group on Arbitrary Detention renders the following opinion:
The deprivation of liberty of Mr. Saidov is
arbitrary, and constitutes a breach of articles 9 and 19 of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights and of the International
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, falling within category II
of the arbitrary detention categories referred to by the Working
Group when considering the cases submitted to it.
60. The Working Group requests the Government to
take the necessary steps to remedy the situation, which would
include a retrial of Mr. Saidov, and adequate reparation to him in
accordance with article 9, paragraph 5, of the Covenant.
61. In accordance with article 33 (a) of its
revised methods of work, the Working Group considers it appropriate
to refer the case to the Special Rapporteurs on torture and other
cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and on the
situation of human rights defenders for appropriate action.
[Adopted on 23 November 2012]