"Widespread torture of detainees is common in criminal investigations in Uzbekistan, and has become an unmistakable feature of the government's crackdown against independent Islam. Uzbekistan's government refuses to hold police and security forces accountable for acts of torture, and even tacitly encourages torture though its broadcasting of political prisoners' public 'confessions' as tools of political propaganda. Instituting legal and judicial reform to halt torture, and ending impunity for it, should be a matter of priority for the government of Uzbekistan and for all parties interested in human rights and the security and stability of the region. Persons detained by police in Uzbekistan are routinely subjected to physical and psychological abuse, often from the initial moments of their arrest. Mounting numbers of deaths in pre- and post-conviction detention facilities over the past two years attest to the brutality of the treatment meted out against detainees and prisoners. Although Uzbek law criminalizes torture, few law enforcement officers are held accountable for it. Uzbek courts routinely rely on evidence extracted under torture, despite rulings barring the admissibility of this evidence."
Despite extensive constitutional protections, the Karimov government has actively suppressed the rights of political movements, continues to ban unsanctioned public meetings and demonstrations, and continues to arrest opposition figures on fabricated charges. The atmosphere of repression reduces constructive opposition and freedom of expression, and continues to distort the political process, even when institutional changes have been made. In the mid-1990s, legislation established significant rights for independent trade unions, separate from the government, and enhanced individual rights; but enforcement is uneven, and the role of the state security services remains central.
Amnesty International, the Human Rights Watch, and the United States Department of State consistently have identified the human rights record of Uzbekistan as among the worst in the former Soviet Union. With the exception of sporadic liberalization, all opposition movements and independent media are essentially banned in Uzbekistan. The early 1990s were characterized by arrests and beatings of opposition figures on fabricated charges. For example, one prominent Uzbek, Ibrahim Bureyev, was arrested in 1994 after announcing plans to form a new opposition party. After reportedly being freed just before the March referendum, Bureyev shortly thereafter was arrested again on a charge of possessing illegal firearms and drugs. In April 1995, fewer than two weeks after the referendum extending President Karimov's term, six dissidents were sentenced to prison for distributing the party newspaper of Erk and inciting the overthrow of Karimov. Members of opposition groups have been harassed by Uzbekistan's secret police as far away as Moscow.
"People come to me very often after being tortured. Normally this includes homosexual and heterosexual rape of close relatives in front of the victim; rape with objects such as broken bottles; asphyxiation; pulling out of fingernails; smashing of limbs with blunt objects; and use of boiling liquids including complete immersion of the body. This is not uncommon. Thousands of people a year suffer from this torture at the hands of the authorities."