ODIHR Director very concerned about decision to uphold life sentence for Azimjan Askarov WARSAW 13 May 2020
WARSAW, 13 May 2020 – Following the decision of Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Court today to uphold the life sentence of human rights defender Azimjan Askarov, the Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) expressed her deep disappointment.
“I am extremely saddened by this decision,” ODIHR Director Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir said. "Azimjan Askarov has already spent nearly 10 years of his life in prison. With today’s ruling, Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Court has passed up the opportunity to restore the rights that have been withheld so long.”
“I call on the authorities of Kyrgyzstan to implement the UN Human Rights Committee decision and free Mr Askarov, in line with the country’s international human rights obligations.”
ODIHR has followed Askarov’s case since he was first detained in 2010. After monitoring his trials in 2010 and 2011, ODIHR reported the failure of the authorities to address the intimidation of defence witnesses and lawyers, to consider evidence that could have vindicated him, or to effectively follow up on visible signs of torture. The UN Human Rights Committee has long urged for Askarov’s release after finding he had been arbitrarily detained, held in inhumane conditions, mistreated, and denied the right to a fair trial.
The 57 countries of the OSCE recognize the vital role played by human rights defenders in ensuring full respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law (Helsinki 1975). They also emphasize “the need for the protection of human rights defenders” (Budapest 1994), in line with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. As well as continuously monitoring the situation of human rights defenders, ODIHR published Guidelines on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders to assist national authorities in protecting human rights defenders throughout the OSCE region.