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U.S. Concerned Over Closure Of HRW In Uzbekistan

President Islam Karimov's iron grip on the country has forced many critics of his administration, including Mutabar Tajibaeva, seen here protesting in front of the European Commission in Brussels in January, to voice their grievances abroad or not at all.
The United States government has expressed concern over a decision by Uzbekistan's Supreme Court to approve the closure of the Tashkent office of the internationally respected Human Rights Watch group.

A statement issued by U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said international nongovernmental organizations such as Human Rights Watch "have an important function to play around the world" and that Washington regrets that Human Rights Watch will not be able to continue its work in Uzbekistan.

U.S.-based Human Rights Watch announced in March that it was being forced to close its Tashkent office after Uzbek authorities took steps to liquidate its office registration after years of obstructing the group's work.

In a statement after last week's decision by the Uzbek Supreme Court, Human Rights Watch said the Uzbek government continues to interfere with independent civil society and harass activists.

The statement condemned the Uzbek government for what it called an "atrocious human rights record in general."

compiled from RFE/RL reports

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