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Uzbekistan

Volume 458: debated on Monday 19 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with representatives of the Uzbek government on the imprisonment of Umida Niyazova, Mutabar Tadjibaeva and Gulbakhor Turaeva; and if she will make a statement. (127616)

We remain concerned by the arrests of Umida Niyazova and Gulbakhor Turaeva. Our Embassy in Tashkent is following their situation closely, remaining in touch with human rights groups and Niyazova’s lawyer. Our Ambassador raised both cases with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 2 February. The German Embassy, as EU Presidency, has registered with the Uzbek authorities the EU’s concern at the detention of both women, in Note Verbales on 13 and 20 February.

We have followed the case of Mutabar Tadjibaeva closely since her arrest in 2005. Our Embassy was present at her trial. We are working closely with human rights groups in touch with her family. We are concerned at reports that her relatives have been refused access to her. We regularly raise Tadjibaeva’s case with the Uzbek authorities, bilaterally and through the EU.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) she and (b) her ministerial colleagues have had with representatives of the German government on Uzbekistan. (127617)

We discuss Uzbekistan with the German Government regularly. Most recently, the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council discussed Uzbekistan on 5 March.

Our ambassador in Tashkent is also in regular contact with his German and other EU colleagues. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials also maintain a regular dialogue with German officials on Uzbekistan, in London, Berlin and Brussels.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions (a) she and (b) her ministerial colleagues have had with representatives of other Governments in Central Asia on Uzbekistan. (127618)

I discussed Uzbekistan with the Kazakh Foreign Minister during my visit to Kazakhstan in September 2006. Our ambassadors in Central Asia discuss regional and country specific issues with their host foreign ministries on a regular basis.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on the human rights situation in Uzbekistan. (127619)

The human rights situation remains a cause for concern. The situation has deteriorated further since November 2006. There have been more arrests of respected human rights defenders, including Umida Niyazova, who worked as an interpreter for Human Rights Watch in Tashkent. The International Committee of the Red Cross have not yet been able to visit prisons, despite apparently reaching agreement with the Uzbeks in November 2006. The Uzbek authorities continue to deny access to, and information on, the whereabouts of individuals of concern to the EU, for example Zainabiddinov and Tadjibaeva. More foreign non-governmental organizations in Tashkent, such as World Vision, are facing threats of eviction from the country.