The United Nations expert on summary or arbitrary executions today requested an invitation from the Government of Uzbekistan for an “urgent” visit following reports that hundreds of people were killed in the eastern city of Andijan last weekend when Government troops opened fire on a protest march.
In a statement issued in Geneva, Philip Alston, the UN Commission of Human Rights’ Special Rapporteur dealing with extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions made the urgent request to assess the situation, indicating that he was “gravely concerned about reports that hundreds of people, including women and children, were killed on 13 May when Government troops fired indiscriminately to disperse a demonstration in Andijan.”
The New York University law professor also stated that he was particularly troubled by reports that the measures had been connected to efforts to eliminate terrorists.
“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,” he said.
Mr. Alston echoed the call of UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour for the Government to establish an independent commission of inquiry into the incidents, but he noted that his visit was also an essential part of an effective and comprehensive response by the Government.
The statement said that a visit to Uzbekistan would enable the Special Rapporteur to speak with all those involved in the recent events and to formulate positive recommendations to support efforts to end impunity for human rights violators in accordance with international standards.
Ms. Arbour’s spokesman said indications were that the President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, would not welcome an international investigation at this time. He said the High Commissioner hoped that Mr. Karimov could be persuaded to see the interest that the people of Uzbekistan and the international community have in setting the record straight on the recent events in that country.