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Uzbekistan Urged To Abolish Death Penalty

Prague, 1 September 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Amnesty International today criticized Uzbekistan for putting off its intended abolition of the death penalty until 2008.

A month ago, Uzbek President Islam Karimov signed a decree saying that the death penalty will be abolished in Uzbekistan as of 1 January 2008.

Anna Sunder-Plassman, a researcher for the Central Asian division of Amnesty International, told RFE/RL from London that if no fundamental changes to the practice are introduced immediately, then "scores of people" are likely to be executed in the country before 2008.

"If the Uzbek authorities have already come to the conclusion that the death penalty is inhumane and wrong, then it is hard to understand why the abolition should only start in January 2008 because, looking at the past experience of the death penalty, this means that scores of people are likely to be executed until 2008."

In a press statement released today, Amnesty International accused Uzbekistan of maintaining a flawed criminal justice system that provides fertile ground for miscarriages of justice.

In 2002, the United Nations' special rapporteur on torture concluded that "torture or similar ill-treatment is systematic" in Uzbekistan.

Amnesty International today urged Uzbekistan to promptly end the secrecy surrounding the application of executions, and also called on authorities to reveal the burial sites of executed prisoners.

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