Date: Tue, 13 Jul 1999 15:16:10 -0500 (CDT)
Bakhadir Ruzmetov: Death penalty/fear for safety/unfair trial/forcible deportation
Amnesty International Urgent Action Bulletin, AI Index: EUR 62/14/99, UA 162/99, 12 July 1999
Bakhadir Ruzmetov was returned to Uzbekistan from the Russian Federation on the night of 10 July 1999. A report on Russian TV on 11 July, monitored by the BBC, stated that Bakhadir Ruzmetov "faces a death sentence for perpetrating acts of terrorism". He is believed to be suspected of involvement in explosions which took place in the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, in February of this year.
The forcible deportation of Bakhadir Ruzmetov is one more example of the Russian Federation's failure, in spite of its obligations under international law, to provide adequate protection for individuals at risk of grave violations of their human rights if returned to their country of origin. Bakhadir Ruzmetov's deportation to Uzbekistan violates Russia's obligations under Article 3 of the Convention against Torture, which prohibits the return of a person to a country or territory where they may face serious human rights violations. It also violates the norms enshrined in the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and fundamental Freedoms, and the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Both were ratified by the Russian parliament in May 1998 as part of Russia's obligations on entering the Council of Europe.
Amnesty International is concerned that Bakhadir Ruzmetov may be at risk of being subjected to torture or ill-treatment in detention in order to force a confession from him, and may face execution after an unfair trial.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases and without reservation, on the grounds that it is a violation of the right to life and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Uzbekistan continues to hand down death sentences, and is believed to carry them out.
Six death sentences for alleged involvement in the February bombings were handed down on 28 June 1999 at the conclusion of a trial characterised by a Human Rights Watch observer as "biassed and shoddy". One of the defendants had been forcibly deported from Turkey, reportedly after the Turkish government had received guarantees from the Uzbek authorities that he would not face a death sentence. This trial and other trials in Uzbekistan have attracted persistent allegations of inadequate guarantees of defence, including incommunicado detention, ill-treatment in custody to force confessions, disregard of the right to presumption of innocence, and a host of other failures to observe fair trial standards.
A number of violent incidents, including a series of explosions in February 1999 in the capital of Uzbekistan, Tashkent, have been followed by a clampdown on individuals and groups perceived as a threat to the stability and authority of the government. Hundreds of supposed conspirators have been detained, including members and presumed members of independent Islamic congregations; members of banned opposition parties and movements; and their relatives. The authorities have blamed the bombings on violent foreign-trained Islamic groups operating in concert with the exiled secular, democratic opposition. Heavy sentences have been handed down after trials whose conduct gives serious cause for concern. Further trials are expected or are already in progress.