Uzbek President Releases Political Prisoners

Yesterday, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov signed an amnesty decree on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the country's Constitution Day. Due to the holy festival Ramajan, the main official programme will be held on the 5th in place of 8th of December in the capital's Turkistan Concert Hall. This is supposed to be attended by the president, the Speaker of the Parliament Mr. Erkin Vahidov, and foreign diplomats. On the eve of the 10th anniversary of the constitution day of the country, Uzbek President Islam Karimov used point 20 of article number 93 and signed a decree on amnesty for certain types of prisoners. Also, the prison terms of certain prisoners are to be reduced. This decree shall be implemented within three months.

As per the signed document, members of the extremist organizations and anti-government groups including women, men over 60 years, minors under 18 years of age, persons who committed crimes due to negligence, economic prisoners, invalids, and foreign citizens charged for the very first time will be freed.

Unofficial sources informed that after this decree, more than forty percent of the Uzbek jails will be vaccant. In the meantime, the Uzbek media informed that this decree applies to more than half of the total number of the prisoners.

It may be mentioned here that for the last several months, Uzbek president and official foreign guests visiting Uzbekistan including the UN secretary general; US assistant secretary of State for Democracy; Human Rights and Labor; European Bank chaiman; French foreign secretary; etc., discussed questions relating to human rights in Uzbekistan. The U.S. assistant secretary told reporters in Tashkent that "The U.S. is deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Uzbekistan."

The sources say that this is the first time when the Uzbek goverment politically answered the question about the human rights situation, because now nobody can say that religious prisoners are yet to freed from Uzbek jails.

Aloke Shekhar Tashkent Especially for PRAVDA.Ru

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