Violence and human rights violations increased throughout the country, including in areas in northern and western Afghanistan that were previously thought to be safe. Hundreds of civilians were killed during 2010 as a result of both insurgent attacks and aerial bombardments by international forces. The Taliban was seen to grow stronger and more vindictive, with a rise recorded in civilians killed by the militia for "supporting" the government or international forces. Health care, education, and social services all remain largely unavailable, particularly for women and particularly in the country's rural south and southeast. Horia Mosadiq, an Afghanistan researcher for Amnesty International:
"In Afghanistan during the year 2010, there have been a lot of cases of human rights violations and abuses, from violations of freedom of religion to the violations by the armed groups, and violations of freedom of expression. And we also had more than 2,400 civilians killed during 2010 in Afghanistan. And what Amnesty International is calling for, first of all, is that we want the international forces and the Taliban to respect the law and protect civilians that are caught up in crossfire, particularly when the United Nations has announced that the majority of civilian casualties were caused by the Taliban.
"Also about the Peace High Council and negotiations with the Taliban, Amnesty International is concerned about the lack of presence of Afghan civil society and women's groups in the Peace High Council, where they should air their views and they should have more participatory engagement within the whole peace process and negotiations. The Afghan government should make sure that the concerns of women's groups, civil society groups, and war victims are heard when they are negotiating with the Taliban." ARMENIA
Abusive policing and interrogation tactics were documented in Armenian detention centers in 2010. The country failed to launch an independent inquiry into allegations of excessive use of force during 2008 postelection protests, in which 10 people were killed. The country also came under criticism for failing to fight domestic violence and for jailing conscientious objectors while providing no civilian alternatives to military service. John Dalhuisen, deputy director of the Europe and Central Asia program at Amnesty International:
"Amnesty International is primarily concerned that allegations of torture and ill-treatment and indeed deaths in custody in Armenia remain frequent if not widespread, and that essentially many of these allegations are inadequately investigated. Much more needs to be done in Armenia to address these concerns, and we're concerned that the Armenian authorities are not taking this problem as seriously as they should be."AZERBAIJAN
Harassment and abuse of journalists and activists continued "with impunity" in Azerbaijan in 2010, with the parliament banning the use of video, photo, and voice recordings without the subject's consent by anyone except law-enforcement workers. Faced with a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights calling for the release of newspaper editor Eynulla Fatullayev, a Baku court annulled initial charges of terrorism and tax evasion but handed down a new 2.5-year sentence on new drug possession charges. Fatullayev remains in jail. Demonstrations continued to be banned in central Baku, and protesters were often forcibly dispersed. Some religious communities were denied registration. John Dalhuisen, deputy director of the Europe and Central Asia program at Amnesty International:
"What we've seen in Azerbaijan over the last year, and more recently, is a significant clampdown on critical voices. We've seen protests being banned and violently dispersed, protest organizers being arrested, often on trumped-up charges, ill treated, sentenced in unfair trials. This is a time at which the freedom of expression, freedom of assembly in Azerbaijan are severely under threat, and this needs to be addressed urgently by the Azeri authorities."BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA
Bosnia-Herzegovina, like the rest of the Balkan nations, continues to make slow progress in dealing with its wartime human rights violations. An estimated 10,000 war crimes cases remain untried. Civilian victims of the Bosnian war, in particular women, continued to be denied access to justice and social services. Nationalist rhetoric and hate speech between Bosnian Muslims, Croats, and Serbs marked the run-up to the October general elections, and officials from the country's Serb Republic made statements defending the perpetrators of the Srebrenica massacre of Muslim men and boys in 1995. Andrea Huber, the Europe and Central Asia deputy program director for Amnesty International:
"For Bosnia, it is pretty much the same [as the other countries] -- prosecution of war crimes and crimes against humanity are unsatisfactory. What I'd like to highlight for Bosnia in particular is that the prosecution of rape and other war crimes of sexual violence don't receive the attention they need. And the victims support is deficient for female victims of rape and other sexual violence insofar as they're discriminated against in their access to health care but also psychological support. And that is of particular concern if you compare it to other groups such as war veterans, who do receive that attention."
Huber also made the following statements about overall trends in the Balkans: "For the Balkans, our concerns across the region are about impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity, but also the continued unknown fate of thousands of people who were subjected to enforced disappearance during the war. But also we have documented across the region discrimination against Roma people, in particular, in their right to adequate housing, but beyond that in a couple of other rights, economic and social rights. And then I'd also like to mention discrimination of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender) people, who have been subject to threats. An example of this is the Belgrade pride parade that took place in October, where despite quite heavy police protection, participants were subject to threats and physical assaults by counterdemonstrators. And it shows, unfortunately, kind of the homophobic trend in the region that Amnesty has been concerned about.
"If I may go a little bit more into detail with regard to our concern on impunity for war crimes and crimes against humanity, I need to say that across the region there's been a lack of political will to provide for accountability, and that is particularly to be noted for senior politicians who have managed to evade justice. Across the region there are problems in the legal framework in terms of how it incorporates international humanitarian law. Chain of command responsibility and gender-based violence are two particular concerns that I would like to highlight here. And also witness protection is inadequate across the region." BELARUS
In December 2010, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka was reelected for a fourth term in a vote that international observers said fell short of election standards. Riot police violently dispersed peaceful protesters on the night of the vote, arresting hundreds of demonstrators and political opponents of the Lukashenka regime, including presidential candidates. Many of those arrested claim to have been beaten or ill-treated while in detention; dozens of activists not detained were subjected to arbitrary property searches and harassment. Belarus remains the only European country to use the death penalty, with three death sentences handed down and two people executed in 2010, despite a stay-of-execution plea from the UN Human Rights Committee. The government continued to pressure independent media and issued a decree calling on Internet service providers to provide authorities with information about their subscribers. In September, prominent journalist and opposition campaign worker Aleh Byabenin was found dead in his country home; authorities ruled the death a suicide. John Dalhuisen, deputy director of the Europe and Central Asia program at Amnesty International:
"Even before the presidential elections in December last year we saw the freedom of expression, freedom of association being severely restricted. That clampdown has only grown since then, and has risen to severe proportions for those who've been detained, charged, and now recently convicted for their participation in these events. Amnesty International counts at least 11 prisoners of conscience at the moment, in addition to which lawyers, journalists, human rights defenders and NGOs have been subjected to fairly severe persecution and harassment. This downward trend is extremely alarming and shows no signs of being reversed at the moment."CROATIA
Croatia, like the other Balkan nations, continues to make slow progress in prosecuting crimes committed during the 1991-1995 war, with many crimes committed by the army and police forces still unaddressed. Concerns have been raised about the right to freedom of assembly, and discrimination persists again the Roma minority as well as the gay community. Andrea Huber, the Europe and Central Asia deputy program director for Amnesty International:
"And for lesbian, gay and bisexual and transgender people, I've already mentioned the most visible symbol, the pride marches [in Belgrade] that were heavily attacked. But also in Croatia we had the same reports about the Zagreb pride parade and physical attacks of participants after the main event which again had to be heavily protected by police."GEORGIA
Some progress was noted in Georgia in 2010 in the treatment of internally displaced people (IDPs), although Amnesty International says that solutions for housing and economic support for IDPs remains insufficient. No significant progress was made in investigation human rights violations during the August 2008 war, and basic rights and freedoms in the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia remain under threat, particularly for ethnic Georgians in Abkhazia. Some concerns remain regarding ill-treatment of people during arrest and in police stations. John Dalhuisen, the deputy director of the Europe and Central Asia program at Amnesty International:
"Last year in Georgia, Amnesty International focused on the situation of IDPs in respect to which we've seen some improvement in their enjoyment of economic and social rights -- undermined, however, towards the end of the year by growing numbers of evictions of IDPs and their transfer to unsuitable locations, in violation of their right to housing. Another big problem we've seen in Georgia is impunity for abuses committed by police officers, an impunity that often goes very high up the chain of command. [There's been a] failure to investigate abuses in respect to ill-treatment of detainees, and also the excessive use of force during demonstrations.
"Amnesty International has continued to document difficulties and human rights violations in Georgia's breakaway regions. In Abkhazia, we have seen significant difficulties for the Georgian minority, access to education in their own language, forced passportization, security concerns, and definitely feel that this is a situation that is worsening, not improving. The situation in South Ossetia would appear at least to be stable but departing from a very low base. We've seen difficulties relating to freedom of expression, of dissenting voices. Some difficulties across the administrative boundary line, and insufficient cooperation between both Georgian and South Ossetian authorities on the issue of disappeared persons during the 2008 conflict."
Authorities in Iran maintained a clamphold on freedom of expression and assembly in 2010, with sweeping controls imposed on foreign and local media. Dissidents, women's rights activists, human rights defenders, lawyers, journalists, and students were all subject to harassment, and hundreds were imprisoned. Torture and ill-treatment of detainees remains routine. Authorities continue to carry out the death penalty, with as many as 300 executions taking place, including at least one juvenile offender. Sentences of death by stoning continue to be passed, but none was known to have been carried out in 2010. Philip Luther, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa program at Amnesty International:
"Amnesty International's report looks in detail at the situation in Iran. There's been no letup in Iran's crackdown on the opposition following from the crushing of the opposition mass protest movements in the postelection period in 2009. And actually, we've documented the net being widened, so people being caught up in it are lawyers of detainees, the lawyers' lawyers, filmmakers, bloggers, and journalists. And this has continued beyond 2010 into 2011.
"Solidarity protests with Arab demonstrators -- those protesting in the streets of Egypt, Tunisia, and so on -- have been swiftly repressed. Even Iran's own Arab minority took to the streets in April, and there was a quick crackdown on them. The hypocrisy of the leader, President [Mahmud] Ahmadinejad has been staggering. On the one hand, he's shown support for the protesters in Egypt, while cracking down on similar protests at home."IRAQ
Iraqi civilians continue to be targeted by chronic violence, with antigovernment armed groups and suicide bombers carrying out dozens of attacks. Both Iraqi security forces and U.S. troops committed human rights violations, detaining thousands of people without charge or trial. U.S. forces handed over control for Iraqi prisons to local security forces in 2010, leaving detainees vulnerable to torture and ill-treatment. Some detainees were tortured in secret prisons, and several died in custody. Courts handed down death sentences after unfair trials. There were at least 1,300 people on death row in Iraq in 2010. Around 3 million Iraqis were internally displaces or living as refugees abroad. Philip Luther, the deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa program at Amnesty International: "Amnesty's report looks at the situation in Iraq, and what we've seen there -- and what has had a high profile in the media -- is continuing violence, a very serious security situation, armed groups of different sectarian color and nature have been killing civilians in many places throughout the country. And obviously during 2010 there was a withdrawal by coalition troops, particularly the U.S. troops. And detainees were transferred to the Iraqi authorities, really with almost no regard to their human rights, and there has been a continuation of the human rights abuses against detainees in Iraq.
"What tends to happen, and we've documented this in the report, is that the Iraqi security forces do wide-ranging sweeps, people are tortured to extract confessions, and then in some cases if they're brought to trial, they're landed with the death penalty. So very serious concerns there. And these concerns have continued in to 2011. And although these have been much less reported than other protests across the movement, there have also been protests about economic and social rights in Iraq, and these have been brutally repressed, although not on the same scale as what we've seen, and of course are seeing, in Syria and Yemen and Bahrain, for instance."KAZAKHSTAN
Kazakhstan, which became the first post-Soviet country to hold the OSCE chairmanship in 2010, pledged to adopt a zero-tolerance policy toward torture and ill-treatment of detainees. Amnesty International says the country failed to honor its pledge, with impunity for human rights violations continuing. People in police custody reported they were frequently subjected to torture and ill-treatment. Kazakhstan also passed a new law on refugees excluding certain categories of asylum-seekers, including victims of persecution such as Uyghurs and Uzbek Muslims, from qualifying for refugee status. John Dalhuisen, the deputy director of the Europe and Central Asia program at Amnesty International:
"Torture and ill-treatment in Kazakhstan remain widespread, despite government promises to various international mechanisms that this is something that would be addressed. Impunity for torture and ill-treatment by law-enforcement officials remains at the heart of the problem -- a refusal to recognize the extent of the problem, and to prosecute and investigate offenses that are reported. Another concern that Amnesty International has had during the course of the last year relates to the access to asylum procedures for asylum-seekers in Kazakhstan -- in particular those from China and Uzbekistan, be they Uyghurs from China, or often members of Islamic parties or people presumed to be members of Islamist groups in Uzbekistan, that are being returned to those countries, where they are at serious risk of torture and ill-treatment."KYRGYZSTAN
The year 2010 in Kyrgyzstan was marked by turbulence, including four days of ethnic clashes between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks in the south of the country that left hundreds dead and created a humanitarian crisis when hundreds of thousands were forced to leave their homes. Amnesty International says the country's response to the clashes was marred by human rights violations, with reports of excessive force by security officials, arbitrary detentions, and torture. Attempts to investigate the clashes were apparently undermined by ethnic bias, with the disproportionate majority of people arrested and tried in connection with the violence ethnic Uzbeks. Human rights activists, lawyers, and activists defending victims of the violence were harassed, beaten, and held on criminal charges. John Dalhuisen, the deputy director of the Europe and Central Asia program at Amnesty International:
"The year  in Kyrgyzstan was characterized by extreme social volatility, with clashes already in April, and then violent ethnic clashes in June in the southern parts of the country. During these clashes, Amnesty International was concerned that crimes against humanity did take place. This has recently been confirmed by the Kyrgyzstan International Commission of Inquiry. And these allegations now need to be seriously investigated. I think what Amnesty International is particularly concerned by is the failure of the security and law-enforcement operations following the June violence to respect basic human rights.
"What we've seen is widespread use of torture and ill-treatment, we've seen extreme ethnic bias in the investigation and prosecution of abuses, where Uzbek perpetrators have been targeted much more assiduously than Kyrgyz ones. And we've seen a large number of unfair trials in which individuals have been convicted following unfair judicial proceedings. The Kyrgyz authorities have begun to acknowledge and address some of these problems. They have a very long way to go if justice is to be done and the truth established with respect to the June violence and a lasting stability is to be secured in the south of the country." MACEDONIA
As in elsewhere in the Balkans, prosecutions of war crimes saw only slow progress. The justice system continues to operate under heavy executive influence. Attention was focused on the "catastrophic" conditions in Macedonia's psychiatric institutions, which activists said represented a violation of the patients' human rights. Roma and some ethnic Albanians faced discrimination and ill-treatment at the hands of police and other authorities. The Macedonian parliament also adopted an antidiscrimination law that failed to meet EU standards, in part by excluding the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Andrea Huber, the Europe and Central Asia deputy program director for Amnesty International:
"As for enforced disappearances, it might look at first sight as though this is a practice from the past. But if you look into it, then of course it is a continuing human rights violation until the fate of the person is known. And across the region there have been thousands of people who were subject to enforced disappearance and their loved ones are still waiting to have any news of their fate. And that has been a concern. If I may just note one example about Kosovo, it's about 1,820 people who are still missing at the end of 2010, or in Macedonia where also impunity continued for the enforced disappearance of six people. So this has been a trend across the region as well."MOLDOVA
Torture remained a persistent concern in Moldova in 2010, with UN investigators expressing concern at "numerous and consistent" allegations of torture and ill-treatment of detainees in police custody. Sentences handed down in earlier torture cases went unobserved, with several convicted police officers continuing to live freely and with impunity without serving their sentences. Discrimination was witnessed against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, with a Chisinau court prohibiting a gay pride parade in the city center, citing concerns about "public morality." John Dalhuisen, the deputy director of the Europe and Central Asia program at Amnesty International:
"Torture and ill-treatment remain widespread in Moldova, despite a number of measures that have been taken by the authorities to address this issue. Impunity is a particular problem. Amazingly, last year, two police officers convicted of torture in 2007 were still not serving their sentences and living openly in the country. This is indicative of the attitude of the authorities to this issue, and their refusal to tackle it with the attention and determination that it really needs to be addressed with. The other concern we've seen in the last year is the widespread prejudice and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons -- in public, in the sphere of employment, and also manifested particularly in the refusal to allow marches and demonstrations by this group in violation of their right to the freedom of assembly and freedom of expression."MONTENEGRO
Montenegro saw some progress on war crimes prosecutions against low-ranking military personnel or police officials, although Amnesty International notes that senior officials were rarely indicted. The country was seen as responding to calls to investigate allegations of ill-treatment in detention. But journalists and some NGOs continued to come under pressure, with public officials imposing heavy fines in some defamation suits. An ombudsperson's office was created in Montenegro in 2010, but had not been empowered by the end of the year to receive complaints of discrimination against the gay community. Roma continued to be denied economic and social rights. PAKISTAN
Pakistan endured a severe humanitarian crisis in 2010, with massive floods in July displacing millions of people and leaving them in need of food and shelter. The country also endured manmade crises, as insurgent groups and security forces terrorized civilians in the Northwest and Balochistan. Hundreds of civilians were killed in the violence, which included suicide attacks, enforced disappearances, and summary executions. Violence against religious minorities intensified, with the government doing little to punish perpetrators. U.S. drone strikes against suspected Al-Qaeda and Taliban targets continued in Pakistan's border regions. Gender-based violence, including rape, forced marriages, acid attacks, and honor killings were committed with impunity, with nearly 2,000 women killed as a result of domestic violence. Maya Pastakia, a campaigner covering Afghanistan and Pakistan for Amnesty International:
"I would say that the human rights situation in the country deteriorated during the year. There was a growing militancy, extremism and intolerance increased, [as did] threats to people's human rights in the country. The year was particularly bad for religious freedom, and I would also say there was a direct correlation between attacks on minorities and growing religious conservatism and extremism in the country. I know we're talking about 2010, but I think it's important to also note that the assassination of Salman Taseer, who was the former Punjab governor, and the subsequent assassination of the minorities minister, Shahbaz Bhatti, both of whom were campaigning for reform of the blasphemy law, have put debate for reform of the blasphemy laws back by decades, and the assassinations have silenced already hesitant liberal voices in the country. And I think that's a particular issue that needs to be highlighted.
"Another issue that I would really like to see highlighted in the media is the situation in Balochistan, which is desperately tragic and very insecure at the moment. It's fair to say I would describe it as a human rights black hole. Over the past year we've seen an increase in disappearances in the province, but there's been a sinister trend in that bodies of disappeared individuals have turned up strewn across the country, and all the bodies that have been recovered in Balochistan have marks of torture, and invariably a bullet wound to the head and chest. In the period of nine months, we identified that a hundred people who had been disappeared had been subsequently unlawfully killed. And the relatives of the victims point the finger toward the security forces, notably the Frontier Corps for involvement and being complicit in their deaths.
"Osama bin Laden's death will focus attention on Balochistan, because it's believed that [Taliban leader] Mullah Omar is being given sanctuary in the province. It's widely believed that the Quetta Shura which Mullah Omar has resides in Balochistan. So I think attention will be focused on that province as a result of bin Laden's death. I think it will have more of an impact on Afghanistan. I think there will be a greater call to transition security to the Afghan government, and a more national call to withdraw international forces within the U.S. and the U.K. So I think [bin Laden's] death will have more of a knock-on effect in Afghanistan in terms of political settlement with the Taliban."RUSSIA
The year 2010 was marked by a greater number of social protests, often on the local level, on a range of issues including violations of civil and political rights, environmental concerns, and other social issues. Some protests were dispersed by law-enforcement officials using excessive force, particularly those related to the "Strategy 31" opposition movement and moves to block a construction project in Moscow's Khimki Forest. A strong state bias persisted in broadcast and print media, which was used as a vehicle for discrediting opposition politicians and activists, although more diversity was seen in the electronic media. The Russian government pledged to purge police and judicial bodies of corruption, but little progress was seen in 2010. Reports of torture and ill-treatment in detention centers and prisons remains widespread, although the death in custody of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in 2009 prompted the use of house arrest, instead of pre-trial detention, for people suspected of economic crimes.
John Dalhuisen, the deputy director of the Europe and Central Asia program at Amnesty International:
"Russia continues to be a country in respect to which Amnesty has documented numerous human rights violations throughout the year. These concern both the freedom of expression and freedom of assembly of human rights defenders and journalists who still face harassment and threats for their work. We've seen demonstrations being denied or violently dispersed, despite some improvements toward the end of the year. Torture, ill-treatment, and deaths in custody continue to be a serious problem. Again, a number of measures have been taken during the course of the year in terms of police reform, reforms to investigative mechanisms. It's too early to pronounce on the effects of these reforms, but real attention needs to be given to these issues by the Russian authorities. Amnesty International continues to have concerns about the independence of the judiciary, both at a lower level, and with respect to high-profile cases, such as Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev.
"And lastly, Amnesty International is concerned that the situation in the North Caucasus remains extremely volatile, marked by attacks by armed groups, which Amnesty International condemns, but also by serious human rights violations by law-enforcement officials in their response, including extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, incommunicado detention. All these remain serious and to date fundamentally unaddressed problems that are undermining the rule of law and the security of all citizens in Russia's Caucasian republics."SERBIA & KOSOVO
War crimes prosecutions continued in Serbia, but little progress was made in determining the fate of people missing since the 1999 war. The Serbian parliament was praised for adopting the "Srebrenica Resolution" condemning the 1995 massacre of Bosnian Muslim men and women, but the resolution failed to recognize the incident as genocide, as required by a 2007 decision by the International Court of Justice.
Amnesty International includes Kosovo as part of its Serbia review in its 2010 report. Researchers cited little to no progress on war-crimes prosecutions and missing-person cases from the 1998-1999 Kosovo conflict. Tensions remain high between Kosovo Serbs and ethnic Albanians. Discrimination persists against the Roma minority.
Andrea Huber, the Europe and Central Asia deputy program director for Amnesty International:
"As for Roma, the example we have looked into in the most detail is Serbia, with an increasing pattern of forced evictions of Roma, who then lose not only their homes but also their livelihoods, and all their connections to workplace, social connections and all the rest. And across the region, there is a problem with discrimination as the underlying cause of all those problems. In Serbia, we have looked into forced evictions in particular when it comes to infrastructure projects, and some of them have been funded or supported by the financial institutions of the European Union. So there's a link there that has also been interesting and of concern.
"As for enforced disappearances, it might look at first sight as though this is a practice from the past. But if you look into it, then of course it is a continuing human rights violation until the fate of the person is known. And across the region there have been thousands of people who were subject to enforced disappearance and their loved ones are still waiting to have any news of their fate. And that has been a concern. If I may just note one example about Kosovo, it's about 1,820 people who are still missing at the end of 2010, or in Macedonia where also impunity continued for the enforced disappearance of six people. So this has been a trend across the region as well.
"For Kosovo, we have still documented violent incidents between Kosovo Serbs and ethnic Albanians, predominantly in the northern municipalities. And what has been of concern is that in May, EULEX, the EU-led police and justice mission in Kosovo announced that only 60 out of 900 war-crimes cases inherited from UNMIK were under investigation. But also it has to be noted that the justice system in Kosovo remains very, very weak and subject to political interference. Just to flesh out one particular concern in terms of accountability for war crimes in Kosovo, I've already mentioned how many people are already missing, but what I'd also like to stress is our concern that Roma continued to be forcibly returned from EU member states in quite high numbers to Kosovo, while we find that they're facing not only severe discrimination but the lack of access to basic economic and social rights that make their forcible return really a concern."TAJIKISTAN
Torture and other forms of ill-treatment by law-enforcement officers in Tajikistan in 2010, including the documented case of a Kyrgyzstani human rights defender, Nematillo Botakozuev, who was held incommunicado for almost a month and reportedly tortured after applying for refugee status. Independent media outlets and journalists faced continuing pressure, particularly in the run-up to the country's parliamentary elections in February. Violence against women remained a serious problem, with as many as half of all women in Tajikistan believed to have suffered physical or psychological abuse by a husband or family member. Tajikistan has spent several years preparing a draft law on providing social and legal protection for victims of domestic violence, but it has yet to be presented to parliament. John Dalhuisen, deputy director of the Europe and Central Asia program at Amnesty International:
"Tajikistan continued to be a country in respect to which torture and ill-treatment remain widespread, often carried out for the purposes of extracting false confessions and facilitating prosecutions. Very few complaints were registered in Tajikistan last year, primarily because those complaints that are registered are very rarely investigated. This now needs to be addressed. The second big concern that Amnesty International has in Tajikistan concerns violations of the freedom of expression, particularly the harassment of journalists and the filing of both criminal and civil suits against government critics, whether they are human rights activists or journalists."TURKMENISTAN
Turkmenistan in 2010 remained under a near-complete information blackout, with journalists coming under harsh restrictions. Activists remain unable to operate openly in Turkmenistan. In September, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov called on security forces to fight those who "defame" Turkmenistan and "try to destroy the unity and solidarity of our society." Religious minorities, including Jehovah's Witnesses, were denied registration, leaving them vulnerable to harassment. Authorities continue to withhold information about the whereabouts of dozens of people arrested and convicted in connection with the alleged assassination attempt on former President Saparmurad Niyazov in 2002. John Dalhuisen, deputy director of the Europe and Central Asia program at Amnesty International:
"Turkmenistan continued throughout the course of 2010 to be a country in which the suppression of dissent remained almost total. Very few human rights defenders were able to operate openly in the country, indeed even faced harassment and intimidation abroad for their work in the country. Journalists continued to face serious harassment and intimidation for reporting on events in the country, for criticizing authorities. That indeed includes journalists operating for foreign outlets. Religious groups are another persecuted sector of society, often denied registration and harassed. We've seen still very little progress in addressing long-standing cases of enforced disappearances. Turkmenistan continues to be a country that remains fundamentally static, with serious human rights violations undermining any possible progress."UKRAINE
Allegations of torture and ill-treatment in police custody continued in Ukraine in 2010, with authorities in the Internal Affairs Ministry taking steps to close a human rights department which had monitored police detentions. Some prisoners repeated being beaten, handcuffed, and tied to a wall. Many detainees were denied release to seek medical treatment. Human rights activists were targeted as a result of their work, with at least one being forced to undergo psychiatric examination for his "excessive awareness of his own and others' rights." Migrants, asylum-seekers, and non-Slavs remained at heightened risk of arbitrary detention, racism, and extortion at the hands of the police. John Dalhuisen, the deputy director of the Europe and Central Asia program at Amnesty International:
"Torture, ill-treatment, and police abuses are widespread in Ukraine. One might go so far as to say indeed that law-enforcement in Ukraine is not so much a corrupt system but a system of corruption. This is resulting in widespread human rights abuses that the authorities have been extremely slow to address. Another concern that Amnesty International has expressed during the course of 2010 and ongoing is the harassment and prosecution of human rights defenders exposing corruption, often at a local level. It's those who are subjected to harassment and persecution. A final concern that Amnesty International has is about asylum-seekers in the country, who continue to be extremely vulnerable to arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, and extortion by law-enforcement officials as a result of extremely inadequate asylum procedures, which leave them floating around the bottom of the country with irregular status."UZBEKISTAN
Uzbekistan in 2010 repeated its refusal to allow the UN's special rapporteur on torture to visit the country, amid continuing reports of abuse and ill-treatment in the country's prison system. The country remains highly repressive of people believed to be members of Islamic movements, with several thousand people still serving lengthy jail terms for their activities. The country continued its crackdown on alleged militants, with closed trials beginning for nearly 70 defendants charged of attacks in Ferghana Valley and Tashkent. Human rights defenders and journalists were subject to harassment, beatings, detention, and unfair trials. Religious minorities, including Christian evangelicals and Muslims worshipping outside state-controlled mosques, continue to face persecution. Uzbekistan briefly granted shelter to ethnic Uzbeks fleeing violence in southern Kyrgyzstan, but strictly controlled their movements and quickly oversaw what many believed was their involuntary return to Kyrgyzstan. Five years after the killing of hundreds of mainly peaceful demonstrators in Andijon in 2005, authorities continue to reject calls for an independent, international investigation. John Dalhuisen, the deputy director of the Europe and Central Asia program at Amnesty International:
"Uzbekistan continued to be a country in which critical voices were severely repressed. Indeed, very few are left that are able to openly speak out. Those that do seek to criticize abuses, to highlight human rights violations, face regular harassment, house arrest, questioning by police, beatings, and often indeed convictions on the basis of questionable charges in unfair proceedings. Across the board in Uzbekistan we're seeing a range of violations of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, with widespread torture and ill-treatment almost routine. Very little progress, and very little optimism. We need much more attention on Uzbekistan from the international community, which must begin to address these difficulties transparently and openly with the Uzbek authorities."