The findings were published on May 23 in Amnesty International’s annual report, “The State of the World’s Human Rights,” for 2012 and documents abuses in 159 countries and territories.
Amnesty International Secretary-General Salil Shetty: ”Governments have been created to protect the rights of their citizens, but we then have governments who are actually doing exactly the opposite, who are actually violating the rights of their own citizens and people who are living inside their boundaries. So I think in this day and age the excuse of national sovereignty, that these are internal affairs, is simply not acceptable.”
The researchers say that there has been a suppression of freedom of expression to varying degrees in Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.
Kazakh authorities used “excessive force” to break up strikes and public protests by oil and gas workers in southwestern Kazakhstan from May through the end of 2012. Hundreds of employees were dismissed, dozens of protesters, trade unionists, and opposition activists were detained, and at least 16 people were killed during clashes between protesters and police in December 2011. The report also says refugees were forcibly returned to China and Uzbekistan, despite international protests.
Torture and ill-treatment remains widespread in Tajikistan while impunity for perpetrators continued. The assessment says independent monitoring bodies were given “no access to detention facilities.” It notes that children, elderly people, and witnesses in criminal cases endured torture that included “the use of electric shocks, boiling water, suffocation, beatings and burnings with cigarettes.”
Uzbekistan has restricted the freedom of expression because human rights campaigners and journalists are continually harassed. 10 journalists and human rights defenders remained imprisoned in “cruel, inhuman, and degrading conditions.” The suspected members of banned religious groups are a particular target of ill-treatment by Uzbek authorities.
That torture and other forms of ill-treatment of those suspected of criminal offenses remain widespread in Turkmenistan. It cites electric shocks, rape, and the forcible administration of psychotropic drugs among the methods employed by authorities against suspects. It said freedom of movement remained drastically restricted.
In Russia, increased peaceful political protests have prompted “repression,” including restrictive new laws and the harassment of rights activists, journalists, and lawyers. The number of apparently politically motivated verdicts is on the rise. The situation is said to be particularly bad in the volatile North Caucasus, where Amnesty says Russia often fails to properly investigate claims of abuses by law enforcement officials. The assessment says torture and ill-treatment of detainees remain a problem.
Kyrgyz authorities were guilty of ethnic discrimination after deadly clashes between ethnic Uzbeks and Kyrgyz three years ago.
In Georgia the new government is dealing with a delicate political balancing act.
The Amnesty report calls on Belarus to abolish the death penalty, which it says has been carried out in a “cruel and inhuman” way. Executions are conducted in “utmost secrecy” with neither the condemned nor their relatives being informed in advance.
It criticizes Moldova for not doing enough to prevent discrimination based on sexual orientation. Moldova was also cited for a law mandating the chemical castration of violent child abusers.
Ukraine is plagued by failings in its criminal justice system and a lack of safeguards for detainees. The rights of homosexuals and transgenders are at risk because of pending legislation.