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HRW: Death of Azimzhan Askarov - one of low points of Kyrgyzstan’s rights record

The death in custody of the wrongfully imprisoned human rights defender Azimjon Askarov in July was one of the low points of Kyrgyzstan’s rights record during the year. Annual report of the International Human Rights Organization Human Rights Watch on the human rights situation in more than 100 countries of the world says.

«On July 25, the human rights defender Azimzhan Askarov died in custody, a violation of his right to life. Askarov had served 10 years of a life sentence imposed after an unfair trial on politically motivated charges. Kyrgyzstan blatantly ignored a 2016 United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC) decision finding he was arbitrarily arrested, tortured, and which called for his release. His health, compromised from his long-term imprisonment, sharply deteriorated in the days before his death, but prison officials denied him adequate medical treatment,» the report says.

As the human rights defenders note, at time of writing, authorities had yet to carry out an independent investigation into Askarov’s wrongful imprisonment, denial of adequate medical care, or death in custody. UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders Mary Lawlor called Askarov’s death «a stain on the human rights record of the Government of Kyrgyzstan.» The European Union, which had called for Askarov’s release, pressed the government of Kyrgyzstan to clarify the circumstances of Askarov’s death.