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The Ombudsman's official response to the QALAMPIR.UZ material about “internal issues”
On October 30, 2022, a special film was announced on the QALAMPIR.UZ website called “Internal issues or did Ayatullo Makhsumov really commit suicide?”.

It contains the opinions of close relatives of a convict who committed suicide on October 9 this year in colony No. 4 in the Navoi region. In this case, his relatives said that he was tortured. The Navoi Special Prosecutor's Office is currently conducting pre-investigation actions on this case and a legal decision will be made.

However, after the publication of information on this case on social networks, the documents related to the case were studied. The Ombudsman in this case did not receive a complaint about torture from close relatives of the deceased. However, following the publication of information on the case on social networks, documents related to the case were examined.

By the way, in May of this year, under the leadership of the Ombudsman, a monitoring visit was organized to penitentiary institutions in the Navoi region, including colony No. 4. The human rights non-governmental non-profit organization “Ezgulik”, which participated in this monitoring, wrote on various social networks on the Internet that there were no complaints of torture from the colonies of Navoi.

Here, we will draw your attention to some aspects. Despite the fact that this situation occurred in October 2022, Khulkar Murtazoyeva, a journalist from the QALAMPIR.UZ website, quoted a year-old interview of the Ombudsman, which was given to journalists in October 2021.

However, when the journalist turned to the press secretary of the Ombudsman, he was told that last year's information should not be used and that several cases of torture were being investigated this year, and a response to the journalist's request would be given within the time period established by law. However, the journalist preferred to use the old information. We will dwell on this a little later.

We remind you that on October 26 this year, the Ombudsman's official website published an official response to a message posted on the social network by the Legal Support Public Association. It was said that the Ombudsman's regional representative in Samarkand met with a prisoner who approached the Ombudsman about torture.

This news was also published on the QALAMPIR.UZ website. In this case, despite the fact that the police officers of the city of Samarkand stated that the prisoner fell off the motorcycle 10 days ago and that his injuries were the result of this, the Ombudsman sent a request to the Prosecutor General's Office for a legal assessment of the situation. The opinions of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the convict contradict each other, and the truth will become known after the investigation of the prosecutor's office.

It should be noted that the Ombudsman does not have the authority to conduct a pre-investigation check before the start of an investigation. Therefore, after investigating reports of torture and messages on social networks, in cases where there are signs of torture, the case is sent to the prosecutor's office for consideration. The Ombudsman is based on the testimony of convicts and prisoners, as well as on the preliminary and primary documents collected in the case.

In fact, in 2021, the prosecution authorities did not confirm a single fact of the use of torture in cases of torture under the control of the Ombudsman. Unfortunately, there are those who use the policy of openness pursued in the country in their own interests, disseminate unfounded and false information, cause alarm among the population, and try to win an "artificial reputation".

For information, under the leadership of the Ombudsman for 9 months of 2022, 297 monitoring visits to penitentiary institutions were carried out. Monitoring by the Ombudsman and his regional representatives is carried out without warning the administration of penitentiary institutions, and cases are studied.

During the studies, prisoners and convicts are met face to face, asked whether torture is used or not, whether the conditions created for them meet the established requirements.

In 2022, the Ombudsman received complaints of torture, but in most cases they are not confirmed. Some appeals relate to torture 5-10 years ago. In order to carefully study the current situation, anonymous surveys of prisoners throughout the republic have also been launched since 2022. The results will be announced in the Ombudsman's annual report on the work done to prevent cases of torture.

In 2022, complaints against law enforcement officers abusing their powers and violating human rights received by the Ombudsman were investigated and sent to the prosecutor’s office for a legal assessment of the actions of employees. In one case, a person was found guilty under the articles of the Criminal Code on intentional infliction of grievous bodily harm and falsification of evidence. Also, disciplinary measures were applied to 11 employees, and the employment contract was terminated with 1 employee.

During a telephone conversation with former convicts (names not disclosed), a journalist from the QALAMPIR.UZ website mentioned the phrase “the box that the Ombudsman carries with him.” In fact, the "Ombudsman's Box" is not taken away, they are placed in colonies and pre-trial detention centers where video cameras are not installed and where prisoners can get into. It is important to note that these boxes cannot be opened by anyone other than Ombudsman staff and Regional Representatives. Appeals in these boxes are collected for study by the Ombudsman's staff every two weeks.

Another aspect that attracted our attention in this film was the interview of A. Tashanov, head of the human rights NGO "Ezgulik". He said: “Our voices do not coincide with the Ombudsman. Therefore, we are not allowed to participate in monitoring visits.” In fact, the reason why A. Tashanov, who is a member of the Commission for the observance of constitutional rights and freedoms under the Authorized Person for Human Rights, was not involved in monitoring visits was that, despite the warnings of the Ombudsman, he repeatedly violated the rights of prisoners. He published messages aimed at humiliating the dignity of prisoners and personal information without their permission. After that, the Ombudsman received appeals from convicts and their relatives regarding the actions of the human rights NGO “Ezgulik”.

We remind that the purpose of monitoring visits is to study the level of protection of the rights of persons held in closed institutions, and not to use them as PR.Instead of drawing a proper conclusion from this, the “human rights activist” has now begun to spread various groundless messages on social networks in order to create a mood of distrust among the population in relation to the Ombudsman Institute. (Additional information may be provided to journalists on this issue).

Let's go back to the question above. We know that messages written in a critical spirit are more popular among the population. However, a journalist must report impartially in any situation. In the material of the site QALAMPIR.UZ, we believe that this principle of impartiality is violated. Because it was clear that new information about the work of the Ombudsman to prevent torture would refute some of the allegations in this film.

In addition, during this video, the journalist tried to connect the death of the deceased F. Khidirov with this situation, stating that “even before Oyatollo, in 2020, the body of 45-year-old convict Farrukh Khidirov from Yangiyol was taken out of prison in Navoi.” He was suspicious of the death of the deceased. The case of the death of the late convict F. Khidirov was also investigated by the Authorized Person of the Oliy Majlis for Human Rights after it was published on various social networks on the Internet, in particular on the Facebook page of the human rights NGO Ezgulik. The reports indicate that the deceased died in a specialized hospital for convicts. According to the documents available to the Ombudsman, the late F. Khidirov was taken from the colony in Navoi to specialized hospital for convicts on June 3, 2020, where he died on June 18. Even after his death, the relatives of the deceased were afraid to take him away due to a serious illness, and the deceased remained in the hospital for several days. The official position of the Ombudsman on this issue has been announced.

Also, the cases of torture that are mentioned at the end of the film did not take place in penitentiary institutions, but in the course of investigative actions, and law enforcement officers who committed violations of the law were brought to criminal responsibility by the prosecutor's office. It is wrong to link these cases with deaths in penitentiaries.

It should be noted that Omubdsman is currently developing proposals aimed at preventing cases of torture in the process of inquiry based on an analysis of the appeals received by him.

We remind you that if the Authorized Person of the Oliy Majlis for Human Rights receives a complaint about the use of torture and it is confirmed by a convict or prisoner, the public will be informed about it. It is this approach that is in line with the policy of openness and is an important step towards the prevention of torture.

The Ombudsman stands for the prevention and elimination of cases of torture, and not for their concealment.

Press Service of the Authorized Person of the Oliy Majlis for Human Rights (Ombudsman)