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Rights Groups Demand UN Action Against Uzbekistan

(RFE/RL) March 22, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- International rights groups are appealing to the UN Human Rights Council to take urgent action against Uzbekistan.

The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF), Human Rights Watch, and the International Federation for Human Rights will make their appeal today in Geneva on the sidelines of a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council.

The council is to consider a recommendation that it stop scrutinizing Uzbekistan's human rights record.

But Aaron Rhodes, executive director of the International Helsinki Federation, told RFE/RL that such a move would erode the council's credibility. "What that would really imply would be that the United Nations would reward the Uzbek government for its repressive policies and its refusal to cooperate with the Council,” Rhodes said. “If the Human Rights Council can't take up the problems in Uzbekistan, then what is it for?"

A report released last month by the IHF found "systematic persecution" of rights activists in Uzbekistan. The report said activists were subjected to intimidation, surveillance, defamation campaigns, imprisonment, ill treatment, and torture.

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