Uzbekistan has reopened its prisons for checks by Red Cross officials after Western criticism of the ex-Soviet republic's human rights record. ( RIA Novosti)
The Central Asian state barred the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) from visiting its prisons after hundreds of demonstrators were shot dead by government troops at a 2005 peace protest in Andijan.
"We will be able to talk with detainees in private...and have access to all the premises in the places of detention," Yves Giovannoni, the regional head of the ICRC, said in a statement on Thursday.
Uzbekistan was subjected to harsh Western criticism over its handling of the 2005 protests. An arms embargo and other sanctions were imposed against the country and Uzbekistan ousted a U.S. airbase in response.
However, Uzbekistan has recently moved to improve relations with the West. Last week, it released several opposition activists from prison.