Ruziyev v. Republic of Uzbekistan

Court:
UN Human Rights Committee
Country:
Uzbekistan
Status:
Active
Survivor of the 2005 Andijan massacre demands accountability

Husanboy Ruziyev, a survivor of the May 2005 massacre in Andijan, Uzbekistan, is filing a petition before the UN Human Rights Committee accusing the Uzbek police and security services of subjecting him to torture and illegal detention in 2003 and 2004, violating his right to life through the indiscriminate use of force, and of failing to investigate and prosecute the persons responsible for the massacre and torture. 

Facts

Mr Ruziyev lived just outside Andijan with his wife and two children, and operated a successful flour mill with 40 employees.

Repeated detention and torture

The Government of Uzbekistan, through its national security service (SNB) began targeting Mr Ruziyev and other businessmen in the Andijan area for intimidation in the early 2000s. On 11 April 2003, Mr Ruziyev was detained by the SNB and beaten up by four men who accused him of being a member of an illegal religious group. When they released him the next day, they demanded that he return every second day for further abusive interrogation.

This episode would mark the beginning of a more than two-year period in which he was repeatedly threatened, harassed, detained, interrogated and, in the worst episodes, tortured. He was interrogated in order to coerce him into providing false evidence against prominent businessmen in Andijan who were accused of religious extremism.

In the most severe instance, on 7-8 May 2004, he was held overnight at the district police department and severely tortured. Four SNB officers beat his head and neck repeatedly with batons to the extent that he lost consciousness and slipped into a coma for 4 days.

Fearing his death, the SNB and police had him taken to the hospital where he stayed for 23 days, undergoing medical treatment.

Mr Ruziyev and his family repeatedly complained to the authorities about his detention and torture, seeking to have the violations committed by the SNB investigated. His mother-in-law submitted several complaints to the general prosecutor’s office, the Andijan regional prosecutor’s office, and even to the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The authorities refused to investigate.

Testimony at the trial of 23 businessmen

The trial of the 23 prominent businessmen accused of “extremism” commenced on 11 February 2005. The government of Uzbekistan’s charges against the men are widely believed to have been unfair, and their cases were characterized by a range of procedural violations, including abuse in pre-trial detention and coerced confessions. Mr Ruzieyv received a summons to testify at the trial, where he appeared in late April 2005. He explained to the court that he had been unlawfully detained and tortured by the SNB, with no apparent resonse from the court. When he refused to provide fabricated evidence against the businessmen, the court asked him to leave.

Andijan massacre and forced expulsions

On 13 May 2005, the day of the Andijan massacre, Mr Ruziyev had travelled to the city's hospital for treatment of the effects of his torture. That morning, thousands of unarmed demonstrators gathered at Bobur Square in Andijan to protest the show trial of 23 prominent businessmen, the poor economy and government repression. Mr Ruziyev joined the crowd. In the afternoon, government of Uzbekistan forces began firing indiscriminately into the crowd, killing and injuring numerous unarmed demonstrators, including women and children.

The government also blocked most of the exit routes from the square and forced the fleeing demonstrators down a single corridor, which the government lined with snipers and armoured vehicles. Government forces opened fire, again indiscriminately, and killed hundreds of the fleeing demonstrators. Mr Ruziyev proceeded down the corridor with men on each side. First, the man on his right was killed—shot at the bridge of his nose. Then, immediately afterward, the man on the left side was shot in the head and killed. He continued, covered in blood and human remains, passing numerous victims who fell and were pulled to the sides of the road.

Many of those who survived the attack, inlcuding Mr Ruziyev, were too frightened to return home and instead walked through the night toward the Kyrgyzstan border, approximately 12 kilometers away. The group was pursued by government forces and fired on during their flight. With approximately 545 other men, women and children, Mr Ruziyev crossed into Kyrgyzstan on the following morning.

Refuge

On 29 July 2005, nearly 500 Andijan refugees in Kyrgyzstan, including Mr Ruziyev, were flown to Romania by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). On 16 November 2005, Mr. Ruziyev was transferred from Romania to the Netherlands, where he has settled. His family was eventually able to join him in 2009.

He continues to receive medical care for the injuries he suffered as a result of his torture and the trauma sustained during the massacre and forced expulsion.

Open Society Justice Initiative Involvement

The Justice Initiative is co-representing Mr Ruziyev with Mutabar Tadjibayeva, founding director of the human rights NGO “Fiery Hearts Club”, initially founded in the Ferghana Valley region of Uzbekistan, and now registered and operating in exile in Paris.

Arguments

Unlawful and arbitrary detention. Mr Ruziyev was repeatedly detained by SNB and the police. His detention was arbitrary and unlawful in violation of Article 9 of the ICCPR, as it violated national law and was used to pressure him to fabricate evidence against his business associates.

Torture. Mr Ruziyev was repeatedly beaten and threatened with violence, both during interrogations and afterwards based on his answers in violation of Article 7 of the ICCPR.

Lack of safeguards. The government of Uzbekistan failed to properly register the detention of Mr Ruziyev and to provide him with prompt access to an independent lawyer in further violation of Articles 7 and 2(3) of the ICCPR.

Violations of the right to life and personal security The indiscriminate and repeated use of deadly force put the lives of thousands of civilians including Mr Ruziyev in grave danger, in violation of the positive obligation to protect life under Article 6 of the ICCPR. It also placed the security of Mr Ruziyev and other surviving persons at grave risk, in violation of Article 9 of the ICCPR.

Forced expulsion. Following the massacre, Mr Ruziyev and over 500 protesters fled, marching for more than 10 hours, because the domestic authorities had made it unsafe to remain in their country. By creating conditions where Mr Ruziyev was required to flee his home, family and country to avoid being killed, the government violated Article 12(1) and (4) of the ICCPR.

Failure to investigate killings and torture. The government of Uzbekistan has failed to investigate torture of Mr Ruzieyv and also repeatedly refused to conduct an impartial or effective investigation into violations by security officials at the Andijan massacre in further violations of Articles 6 and 7 of the ICCPR, in conjunction with Article 2(3).

Failure to provide redress. The government of Uzbekistan has failed to provide adequate redress, including compensation and other reparations, for the multiple violations committed during the massacre in Andijan as well as any remedy to Mr Ruziyev for his arbitrary detention and torture in further violation of Articles 6(1), 7 and 9 of the ICCPR in conjunction with Article 2(3).

Timeline

April 11, 2003 – Initial detention and torture at the Uzbekistan National Security Service building.

April 2003 - July 2003 – Uzbekistan National Security Service and police repeatedly threaten, detain, interrogate, and abuse Mr Ruziyev in the National Security Building and Criminal Investigation Department in Andijan.

May 7, 2004 – Mr Ruziyev was taken to the district police department where he stayed for the entire night and was severely tortured.

May 13, 2005 – Andijan massacre and forced expulsion from Uzbekistan.

July 29, 2005 – Mr Ruziyev is flown with several hundred other refugees from Kyrgyzstan to Romania by the UNHCR.

November 16, 2005 – Resettlement in Netherlands.

May 12, 2014 – Communication filed with the UN Human Rights Committee.