Tajikistan: Kyrgyz human rights defender Nematillo Botakozuev may be sentenced to 10 years of jail

Tajikistan: Kyrgyz human rights defender Nematillo Botakozuev may be sentenced to 10 years of jail

Kyrgyz human rights defender Nematillo Botakozuev, detained by authorities in Tajikistan, may be extradited to Kyrgyzstan and sentenced to 10 years of jail, says Paris-based organization Human Rights in Central Asia, Ferghana.Ru reported.

Human Rights Watch spoke with an expert who has been following the case, who said it was likely that the Tajik authorities want to speed up a forced return because only the courts will be authorized to rule on extradition requests after a new Criminal Procedure Code comes into force in Tajikistan on April 1.Currently law enforcement agencies

involved in a case have discretion over extradition requests. It is not known whether Kyrgyzstan has filed an extradition request for Botakuziev.

Ferghana.Ru reported earlier that Kyrgyz citizen Botakozuev disappeared in Dushanbe on February 26 after visiting UNHCR office, where he arrived to ask for international protection.

Botakozuev assisted western media in preparation of publications and TV reports about human rights in Central Asia. He also worked with Alisher Saipov, murdered in Osh in 2007.

Nematillo Botakozuev is wanted by Kyrgyz authorities and accused of organization of protests in Nookat (autumn of 2008) because he informed mass media about the event on October 1.

The human rights organization says that Botakozuev had been placed to special reception center, where he was tortured and got injuries. The source told HRW that he was hardly able to breath and his body is covered in bruises.

Against all laws Botakozuev is not allowed to see doctor and lawyer. Although he is seeking an asylum he is restricted to visit UNHCR office in Tajikistan.

Earlier, being concerned with the health condition of Nematillo Botakozuev, Human Rights in Central Asia and Uzbek Initiative - London already appealed to the government of Tajikistan. They demanded "to stop torture, provide medical assistance and let him visit UNHCR office in Tajikistan, as well as punish the organizers of tortures". Addressing the international organizations and the governments of democratic states the human rights advocates paid attention to the fact that government of Tajikistan was not performing obligations under UN convention on refugee status and other important documents.

All attempts of the lawyer to see Botakozuev failed. The interrogation process is accompanied by violation of procedural norms. On March 25 the Tajik law enforcement bodies attended homes of those, who contacted Botakozuev prior to his arrest. These people are forced to testify against Nematillo and his brother.

Andrea Berg, Central Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch says that Botakuziev urgently needs protection and Tajik authorities should act now to protect him from abuse in custody and ensure that he is not returned to Kyrgyzstan. If Botakuziev is sent back he will face a serious risk of more torture or other ill- treatment, Berg said, adding that in Kyrgyzstan he would not have a fair trial.

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