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Uzbek President's Decree Says Evidence Obtained Though Torture Inadmissible

Murad Dzhuraev (left) was recently released from prison after 21 years behind bars.
Murad Dzhuraev (left) was recently released from prison after 21 years behind bars.

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev has issued a decree emphasizing that evidence obtained under torture is inadmissible in the Central Asian country's courts.

The November 30 decree follows years of international concerns about torture in Uzbekistan and accusations by rights groups that abuse at the hands of the authorities is widespread in its police stations, jails, and prisons.

The order states that evidence obtained by investigators through "torture, psychological and physical pressure and other cruel, inhumane methods that humiliate the dignity of parties in criminal cases or their close relatives" cannot be admissible in court.

It also says that information obtained from suspects and defendants in other ways that violate their rights is inadmissible, and that law enforcement authorities are obliged to explain people's rights to them when involving them in a criminal case.

Mirziyoev has vowed to improve Uzbekistan's poor human rights record since he came to power in September 2016, after the death of longtime autocrat Islam Karimov.

The decree mentions that 191 defendants were acquitted in Uzbek courts in the last 10 months, while only seven acquittals were registered in the five years before that.

In recent months, several public figures, journalists, and politicians jailed on what rights activists say were politically motivated charges have been released.

In October, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that Uzbek authorities had taken "some positive steps" during Mirziyoev's first year in office and called for "sustainable" improvements in human rights.