U.N. human rights expert requests that Uzbekistan allow assessment visit

A U.N. human rights expert on Friday requested that Uzbekistan allow him to visit the country to assess the situation there in the wake of recent violence.

Philip Alston, U.N. special investigator on illegal and arbitrary executions, said in a statement that he was "gravely concerned about reports that hundreds of people, including women and children, were killed on May 13 when government troops fired indiscriminately to disperse a demonstration in Andijan."

The request was sent to the Uzbek government Thursday, but no response has yet been received, said Jose Diaz, spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

"Quite apart from the need to distinguish political opponents from terrorists, the point is that governments are clearly obligated to address any such situations within a framework clearly governed by human rights law," Alston said.

Alston, a law professor at New York University, said he was particularly concerned by reports that government actions were linked to fighting terrorism.

He also called upon Uzbekistan's government to establish an independent inquiry into the violence. Earlier this week, British Foreign Jack Straw and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour both called for an international probe.

A visit to Uzbekistan would allow Alston to speak with all those involved in recent events, he added.


On the photo: Philip Alston

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