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Uzbekistan: Update – Human Rights Defender Mr Farhodhon Muhtarov Granted Political Refugee Status
On 26 November 2012, Uzbek human rights defender Mr Farhodhon Muhtarov received documents certifying that he and his family have been granted refugee status by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
In 2009, Farhodhon Muhtarov was sentenced to five years in prison in Uzbekistan on trumped-up charges of fraud. In December 2010, his sentence was changed to forced labour. This provided the defender with the opportunity to flee Uzbekistan for Kyrgyzstan, where he filed an application for asylum to the UNHCR. On 14 September 2012, Farhodhon Muhtarov was arrested and ill-treated by police in the city of Bishkek.
Up until December 2010 when he fled Uzbekistan, Farhodhon Muhtarov worked with the grassroots movement Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan, which works on a variety of human rights issues including torture, access to justice, the right to a fair trial, economic and social rights, and the rights of vulnerable groups.
Front Line Defenders issued urgent appeals on behalf of Farhodhon Muhtarov at the time of his original conviction, dated 12 October 2009, and at the time of his arbitrary arrest in Bishkek dated 19 September 2012 .