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Uzbekistan: UN Rapporteur Says Torture 'Systemic'

Tashkent, 6 December 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The United Nations' human rights rapporteur on torture today said Uzbek authorities routinely use torture to terrorize opponents and obtain confessions which sometimes resulted in courts handing down death penalties. Theo van Boven told a news briefing in Tashkent that "torture is systemic" in Uzbekistan. Van Boven said that during his two-week fact-finding mission to the Central Asian state he interviewed dozens of torture victims, members of their families and other relatives.

He said the forms of torture used by Uzbek police and secret services included beatings, electric shocks, immersing the victim's head in water, and suffocation by plastic bags.

Van Boven said he found that families and close relatives of those arrested were often threatened with torture and rape.

Uzbekistan is home to a U.S. air base used in the military campaign in neighbouring Afghanistan.