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Uzbekistan: UN Envoy To Probe Human Rights Violations

Tashkent, 25 November 2002 (RFE/RL) -- A special United Nations envoy is due in Uzbekistan today to investigate charges of deaths of individuals in police custody, brutality by prison guards, and the use of torture to force confessions. Theo van Boven will visit prisons and meet with government officials, human rights activists, and alleged torture victims in his two-week visit in order to study Uzbekistan's compliance with the International Convention Against Torture.

Previously, the UN Committee Against Torture could assess the situation only on the basis of the Uzbek government's own reports.

After reviewing the latest report in May, the committee expressed concern about "numerous, ongoing and consistent allegations of particularly brutal acts of torture by law enforcement personnel."

Uzbekistan joined the convention in 1995, but it did not sign the part that allows international investigation of individual complaints about torture.

International human rights groups have sought to use Uzbekistan's new relationship with the West to push the government to improve its human rights record.