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Uzbekistan-Update: Continued denial of exit visas for Uktam Pardayev and Mamir Azimov and judicial harassment of Uktam Pardayev
More than two months have passed since Front Line Defenders urged the authorities of Uzbekistan to provide exit visas to Mr Uktam Pardayev and Mr Mamir Azimov, and the authorities continue to delay the process.
Uktam Pardayev is Chairperson of the Independent Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (IHRSU) in the region of Djizak. Mamir Azimov is Chairperson of the Djizak office of the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan (HRSU).
Both human rights defenders were previously denied exit visas from Uzbekistan in 2012 and in 2008 – for further information please see Front Line Defenders' urgent appeals dated 10 May 2012 (https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/18279) and 28 July 2008 (https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/1515).
On 19 June 2012, Uktam Pardayev and Mamir Azimov were told by the Djizak Otdel Viz I Registratsiy – OVIR (Department of Visa and Registration) to visit the offices of the Republican OVIR in Tashkent to discuss their visa issues. They travelled to Tashkent on 20 June, but the OVIR officers refused to engage in discussions or to give a definite answer on their visa status. When they complained to the Djizak OVIR about the meeting, the human rights defenders were told not to worry and to be patient as their visa requests depended on Tashkent.
Uktam Pardayev applied for an exit visa in December 2011, and his application was denied on 7 February 2012. To date, appeals to the local and regional prosecutors' offices, the Department of Interior Affairs and the courts have not resolved the issue. Uktam Pardayev last received an official reply on 11 June 2012, in which the Djizak Inter-District Court wrote that his complaint against the illegality of the OVIR decision could not be considered by the court.
On 10 May 2012, both human rights defenders received calls from the Djizak OVIR and were told that they would receive visas, but that they first needed to make their passports “biometric”, in accordance with the new passport procedure in Uzbekistan. After obtaining new “biometric” passports, they continued to contact the OVIR to follow the progress of the visa applications, but each time were told to wait. A Front Line Defenders representative was given the same instructions when she enquired on their behalf on 31 May 2012.
Furthermore, in September 2011 Uktam Pardayev was charged with an administrative offence by the authorities in Djizak, who claimed he had used abusive language. He was subsequently found guilty and fined UZS 1 million (approximately EUR 420) and all of his efforts to have the decision overturned have so far been unsuccessful. The prosecution relied on the testimony of witness, who subsequently denied making the statements attributed to him.
It is also believed that a separate court decision of 14 September 2011 was another means of punishing Uktam Pardayev for his human rights work. The court ruled that a public space in front of Uktam Pardayev's house was the property of his neighbour, thus reducing the entrance to the human rights defender's home to one metre, isolating the house and preventing vehicles from accessing it. Uktam Pardayev appealed the decision, but his last appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeals of Djizak region on 10 January 2012.
Front Line Defenders reiterates its deep concern about the denial of exit visas to Uktam Pardayev and Mamir Azimov and urges the Government of Uzbekistan to bring about a positive solution to the visa issue for both human rights defenders and to stop the judicial harassment of Uktam Pardayev, which we strongly believe is connected with his human rights activities.
You can find additional information on the situation for human rights Defenders in Uzbekistan. HERE