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Uzbekistan: Baseless criminal charges brought against human rights defender Mr Shoukhrat Roustamov
On July 11 2012, the criminal trial of Mr Shoukhrat Roustamov began for alleged libel of the Head of the Eshonguzar local administration, Mr Kh Abdullayev.
Since January 2012, Shoukhrat Roustamov has sent several official complaints about violations of electoral procedures which allegedly resulted in Kh Abdullayev winning the elections. No actions were undertaken by the relevant public bodies to investigate the complaints, and a criminal case was instead opened against the human rights defender on the basis of a libel complaint made by Kh Abdullayev.
Shoukhrat Roustamov is an active human rights defender and a member of the Human Rights Defenders Alliance of Uzbekistan. He defends the rights of women imprisoned following unfair trials and who are persecuted on the grounds of their beliefs. He also protects the rights of victims of forced evictions and of many ordinary investors who lost their money as a result of the “Shark Yulduzi” investment company going bankrupt.
On 17 June 2012, a criminal case against Shoukhrat Roustamov was opened by the Almazar District Department of Internal Affairs, in contradiction to the law, which requires that the Shaykhantakhur District Department where both Kh Abdullayev and Shoukhrat Roustamov live open the case. The human rights defender was not presented with a copy of the decision to open the case, or of the complaint on the basis of which the case was opened. On 4 July, Shoukhrat Roustamov was summoned by Almazar Court to be made aware of the criminal charges against him under Art 139 of the Criminal Code on “libel” and he was informed that the court hearings would commence on 11 July 2012.
This is not the first time that the human rights defender has been subjected to judicial harassment.
On 4 July 2012, Shoukhrat Roustamov was sentenced to pay a fine for organizing a protest action near a National Security Service building. In January 2012, the human rights defender was sentenced to a pay a fine for libel in relation to his complaints about violations of the law. In October 2011, a civil case was brought against him seeking to have him declared “incompetent”, which was later rejected by the court. The case was initiated by a prosecutor, about whose inactivity the human rights defender had complained of to the General Prosecutor.
Shoukhrat Roustamov has sent letters to the Head of State and high-ranking officials of Uzbekistan, explaining that his numerous enquiries to law-enforcement bodies remain unanswered, detailing the facts of violations of his rights as a human rights defender and asking to halt judicial proceedings initiated against him by the authorities.
Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned about the continued harassment of Shoukhrat Roustamov and believes these measures are solely motivated by the human rights defender's legitimate human rights work in Uzbekistan, especially his involvement as a legal representative in the case of the bankrupt investment company “Shark Yulduzi”.