Report of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, A/HRC/16/44/Add.1, 28 February 2011: Uzbekistan
Letter of allegations
2371. On 11 May 2010, the Special Rapporteur, together with the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, sent a letter of allegation concerning the sentencing of Mr. Maxim Popov, psychologist, founder and director of the non-governmental organization Izis, founded by young medical professionals which works on HIV/AIDS prevention. Izis has also implemented HIV prevention activities, including under contracts with UNICEF, UNFPA and UNAIDS.
2372. According to the information received, Mr. Maxim Popov was arrested in January 2009 and convicted in July 2009. His conviction was publicly disclosed only at the end of February 2010. Mr. Popov was sentenced to 7 years imprisonment for charges which included theft by embezzlement, concealment of foreign currency, tax evasion, inducing minors to antisocial behaviour, indecent assault without violence against a minor and inducing engagement in the use of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances.
2373. It is believed that Mr. Popov was convicted in connection with writing and distributing HIV/AIDS prevention materials. Mr. Maxim Popov is the author of the brochure “HIV and AIDS today”, a publication funded by UNAIDS and UNICEF. He was also convicted for distributing HIV prevention materials published by UNAIDS and other UN agencies to adolescents that explicitly refer to drug use, sex work and homosexuality.
2374. Concern was expressed that the arrest and sentencing of Mr. Maxim Popov may be related to his peaceful activities in defence of human rights, in particular his work on HIV/AIDS prevention
Response from the Government
2375. In a letter dated 30 June 2010, the Government responded to the communication sent on 11 May 2010 as follows. IZIS, a voluntary organization, was registered in 2003 with the Tashkent Justice Department as a legal entity, with Maxim Popov, an Uzbek national, as director. The organization’s basic aims were to work on problems relating to the education, health and social protection of children and to assist in the social integration of the aged, the poor or other vulnerable sections of society.2376. In accordance with article 21 of the Non-State Non-Commercial Organizations Act, the Tashkent Justice Department, as the registering body, carried out checks on IZIS in 2008 to ensure that it was carrying out its statutory aims and purposes and acting in accordance with the law. The checks showed that the organization conducted its activities under agreements concluded with a number of international organizations, including the local office of the foreign non-governmental organization Population Service International (PSI), and with United Nations agencies in Uzbekistan, such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). In partnership with these organizations, IZIS carried out a wide variety of projects, aimed largely at injection-drug users and persons living with HIV.
2402. The Special Rapporteur wishes to thank the Government for the responses provided to her communications dated 23 February, 23 March, 30 June and 11 August 2010. The Special Rapporteur remains seriously concerned at the situation of human rights defenders in Uzbekistan, including reports of acts of intimidation, arbitrary arrest and heavy sentencing.
2403. The Special Rapportuer is particularly concerned at allegations concerning denial of medical treatment in detention and the reported disappearance of Ms. Umida Ahmedova, which she considers as unacceptable. She thanks the Government for its reply indicating the fate and whereabouts of Ms. Ahmedova but urges the authorities to ensure that the arrest, detention and treatment of those detained are in full compliance with international norms and standards.
2404. The Special Rapporteur regrets that her request to carry out a country mission to Uzbekistan has been outstanding for over ten years despite repeated follow-up and hopes that the Government will consider this request favourably in the near future.
Full text of the Letter of allegation: Summary of cases-SR Human Rights Defenders-Uzbekistan-2011-eng
Link to full text of the report: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/defenders/docs/A.HRC.16.44.Add.1_EFSonly.pdf