View Adopted: 2017.03.21
The author of the communication is an Uzbek national. He claims that between 3 and 8 August 2012 he was detained and tortured by State agents of the Tashkent Regional Customs (the Customs) and the National Security Service (SNB) with the aim of obtaining a self-incriminating statement. The objective was to have the author testify against himself about a drug-related incident. Between 3 and 4 August 2012 the author was subjected to torture and ill-treatment in different detention facilities by SNB and/or Customs agents, which included measures such as handcuffing, beatings with a truncheon and electroshocks.
After 8 August 2012, when he was transferred to the SNB investigation ward, he also faced torture by SNB and investigation ward officers as well as by trained hard-core criminals. On 20 November 2012, he was transferred to the investigation ward No. 1 of the Ministry of Interior, where he faced physical and psychological torture by other inmates at the request of SNB officers, and he attempted to commit suicide due to the prolonged torture he was being subjected to. As a consequence of such treatment, the author alleged to have two broken ribs and severe headaches. Furthermore, the referred claims are supported by the complaints made by himself and his legal counsel, as well as by his brother’s statements of having heard and seen occasions of mistreatment against the author.
The author alleges that his detention was unlawful because it was unrecorded and he was held in pre-trial detention for a crime that does not envisage such form of deprivation of liberty. Nonetheless, on 8 August 2012 the author was indicted on drug-related charges and officially arrested. He was not allowed to meet privately with his counsel neither on that day or in other occasions afterwards. The pre-trial investigations on the author’s case lasted from 8 August 2012 to 8 January 2013, and his detention was ordered by the Kibraisk District Court on 10 August 2012. Before then, on 9 August 2012, his counsel had requested the head of the SNB to review the lawfulness of the author’s arrest and detention and to release him on bail, but such request was denied and in November 2012 the author’s detention was extended until 8 January 2013. The author’s counsel appealed both the order of detention and its extension, but it remains unclear whether his appeals were examined. The author’s counsel challenged the lawfulness of his arrest and detention once again on 13 December 2012, but no action was taken on this regard. In addition, the counsel’s complaint that the author’s confession was obtained by torture was rejected by the investigator.
On 4 January 2013 the author was indicted for drug-related offences other than the ones prescribed on 8 August 2012. The modification of the author’s indictment and a questioning record were conducted in the absence of his legal counsel. His counsel requested a medical examination on behalf of the author, which was denied under the argument that the pre-trial investigations had been concluded. The author’s case was transferred to the Bekabad City Court and he claims that he and his counsel were not able to attend the first hearing because they were informed of it on the same day that the hearing was scheduled to take place. In addition, the counsel’s requests to consider some documents as inadmissible and to summon as witnesses persons who had approved these documents was rejected on the grounds that these individuals had not been identified as witnesses during the investigation.
The author was sentenced by the City Court on 6 January 2013 to 17 years of imprisonment, and he alleged that the court proceedings were deliberately delayed and without justification. The counsel appealed that decision on 17 June 2013. Since the authorities had not responded or resolved the counsel’s previous complaints, he submitted a cassation appeal on 9 September 2013 to the Tashkent Regional Court, which was dismissed as unfounded, rejected the request for summoning additional witnesses and confirmed the City Court’s decision. The counsel’s requests for a supervisory review of the court decisions were equally dismissed. Therefore, the author claims that he has exhausted all domestic remedies.
Apart from the allegations of beatings and ill-treatment during detention in order to testify against himself, the author claims that he was denied legal assistance and that he could not prepare his defense. He was also not able to obtain attendance and questioning of witnesses on his behalf. Finally, the author has alleged that pre-trial investigations and judicial proceedings in which he was involved were protracted. For these reasons, the author claims to be a victim of a violation by Uzbekistan of his rights under articles 7, 9(1) and 14(3)(b), (c), (e) and (g) of the Covenant.
The Committee considered the claim relating to article 14(3)(c) to be inadmissible, as the author failed to sufficiently substantiate his allegations. On the other hand, the claims raised under article 7, 9(1) and 14(3)(b), (e) and (g) were declared admissible by the Committee considering that all effective remedies have been exhausted and that the author had sufficiently substantiated the respective allegations.
In assessing the merits of the case, the Committee provided that the State party is responsible for the security of detained individuals. In addition, it has the responsibility to conduct a prompt and impartial investigation and/or to refute eventual allegations by the author of treatment contrary to article 7 of the Covenant.
The Committee considered that the State failed to justify the alleged mistreatment and therefore considerable weight was given to the arguments presented by the author.
First, the Committee concluded that articles 7 and 14(3)(g) were violated since the State failed to demonstrate that it had addressed in an expeditious, adequate and independent manner the allegations by the author that he was subject to torture to obtain self-incriminating statements.
Second, the Committee considered that the State did not demonstrate that the author’s deprivation of liberty was done in accordance with the criteria from the Uzbek Code of Criminal Procedure for pre-trial detention. Therefore, the author’s right under article 9 was violated as his detention was considered unlawful.
Third, the Committee concluded that there was a violation of the author’s right under article 14(3)(b) by reference to occasions where access to his legal counsel was restricted and to the fact that they could not meet in private until about three months after his arrest. These factors would have affected the preparation of his defense. Furthermore, the State failed to demonstrate why such restrictions were necessary.
Finally, the Committee found a violation of article 14(3)(e) considering that most witnesses requested by the author were not questioned at the hearings at the City and State Courts. The State has also not provided reasons for not allowing these witnesses to be questioned.
Pursuant to article 2(3)(a), of the Covenant, the State party is under an obligation to provide the author with an effective remedy.
This requires that States parties make full reparation to individuals whose Covenant rights have been violated. In the present case, the State party is under an obligation
The State party is also under an obligation to take steps to prevent similar violations occurring in the future.
Deadline for implementation: 180 days - October 2017