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Uzbek Justice Ministry Admits Human Rights Violations

In an unusual move, the Uzbek Justice Ministry has admitted publicly that in some instances officials have violated the rights of citizens and that some defendants were mistakenly sentenced to long prison terms. The ministry did not mention specific cases.

The ministry says it is taking measures to punish those who broke the law or violated the public trust.

The ministry's rare self-critical statement was made following the findings of a presidential monitoring group that has been investigating reports of unfair trials and human rights violations in the country.

Rights groups, however, consider the findings of the monitoring group to be "another show" for external consumption ahead of a European Union review of its currently suspended visa ban and arms embargo against Uzbekistan.

The visa ban and arms embargo were originally instituted in the wake of the bloody government crackdown against protesters in the eastern city of Andijon in May 2005.

The EU review is due to take place in October.

(by Sojida Djakhfarova, director of RFE/RL's Uzbek Service)

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