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Umida Niyazova

HRD, Director and Founder
Uzbek Forum for Human Rights

Umida Niyazova is an Uzbekistani human rights defender who fled Uzbekistan in 2008 after serving four months in prison on charges related to her human rights work. Now a German citizen, she continues to travel to Uzbekistan to document and monitor labor rights issues. Umida Niyazova is the director and founder of the Uzbek Forum for Human Rights, an organization in exile in Germany focusing on human rights and labor rights violations in Uzbekistan. This organization, a frontline partner of the Cotton Campaign, has been monitoring the cotton harvest in Uzbekistan since 2010, along with the impact of agricultural reforms on farmers.


Human rights defenders in Uzbekistan continue to be systematically persecuted. Torture, ill-treatment, arbitrary detention, fabricated prosecutions, imprisonment and excessive force are used by law enforcement officials to prevent them from carrying out their legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights. The severity of the repression has contributed to a number of defenders being forced to go into exile. Human rights defenders and independent journalists continue to face physical attacks, which remain unpunished. Serious obstacles to freedom of peaceful assembly persist.

There are grave concerns for the health of several defenders who remain in long term detention. The situation in Uzbek detention facilities is in general very poor and the conditions for human rights defenders in particular are a cause for concern. According to reports by human rights activists and relatives of prisoners, prisons are overcrowded and tuberculosis and hepatitis are endemic, making even short periods of incarceration potentially life threatening. The use of torture and ill-treatment in pre-trial facilities and prisons is widespread. The government also routinely increases the prison terms of human rights defenders as they approach the end of the sentences they were initially ordered to serve, coming up with trumped-up charges of minor violations of prison discipline.