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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                  

Republic of Uzbekistan

A 2016 law on police prohibits torture, and a 2017 presidential decree that bars courts from using evidence obtained through torture took effect in 2018. Despite the reforms, reports of physical abuse against detainees remained continued to appear on social media in 2019. [Freedom House Country Report, 2020]

Description: Description: Uzbekistan


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Uzbekistan.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

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Uzbek Officers' Body Cameras Show Disturbing Scenes Of Detention That Turned Deadly

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL  Uzbek Service, 17 September 2021

[accessed  17 September 2021]

Aziz Ahmedov, a 40-year-old tax collector, died after he was stopped by police in Uzbekistan's Samarkand region. An Interior Ministry statement attributed his death to a heart attack, but his relatives believe he died as a result of the police officers' actions. Two officers have now been charged in the case, one of several recent cases of deaths in police custody in Uzbekistan.

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Uzbekistan

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 11 August 2021]


During the year the UN Committee Against Torture concluded “that torture and ill-treatment continue to be routinely committed by, at the instigation of and with the consent of the State party’s law enforcement, investigative and prison officials, principally for the purpose of extracting confessions or information to be used in criminal proceedings.” In addition, a number of criminal trials during which defendants raised torture allegations, as well as several trials of persons charged with committing torture under Article 235 of the criminal code, including the 2018 trial of six National Security Service officers and others charged with torturing Ilhom and Rahim Ibodov, were closed to the public. Court decisions in those cases were not publicly available.


Prison conditions were in some circumstances harsh and life threatening due to food shortages, gross overcrowding, physical abuse, and inadequate sanitary conditions and medical care.

Concluding observations on the fifth periodic report of Uzbekistan

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights UNHCHR, Human Rights Committee, CCPR/C/UZB/CO/5, 2 April 2020

[accessed 12 April 2020]


24.The  Committee is concerned  about  continued  reports  of  torture  and  ill-treatment,including sexual violence and rape,by prison officialsand law enforcement personnel against persons deprived of liberty,including individuals detained on what appear to be politically motivated chargesand  at reports  of  reprisals  against thosewho  report  these  abuses. It  is further concerned at the high level of impunity that exists in these cases, manifested by the low number of investigations, prosecutions and convictions under article 235 of the Criminal Code, and lenient penalties oftenimposed on perpetrators.While noting the extension of the Ombudsman’s powers to receive complaints from persons deprived of liberty, the Committee is concernedat reports that such complaints are not always reported due to concerns that it is not safe to do so, and that complaints that are made are not duly and impartially investigated. It  is  also  concerned  that  the  application  of  penalties  for  perjury  andfalse  denunciation discourages the reporting of torture and other ill-treatment(arts. 2, 7 and 14).

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 16 May 2020]


A 2016 law on police prohibits torture, and a 2017 presidential decree that bars courts from using evidence obtained through torture took effect in 2018. Despite the reforms, reports of physical abuse against detainees remained continued to appear on social media in 2019.

HRW also documented one case of psychological torture during the year. Former diplomat Kadyr Yusupov was arrested in late 2018 and was held on trial for treason throughout 2019. According to HRW, Yusupov was regularly threatened with his rape, the rape of his wife and daughter, and the arrest of family members by security personnel for a period spanning from December 2018 to March 2019.

Prisons suffer from severe overcrowding and shortages of food and medicine. As with detained suspects, prison inmates—particularly those sentenced for their religious beliefs—are often subjected to torture and other ill-treatment. Jaslyk (Youth) prison, a correctional facility where torture was especially widespread, was ordered closed by President Mirziyoyev in August 2019.

Former Uzbek Security Officials Sentenced To Prison For Torture

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL, 25 June 2018

[accessed  26 June 2018]

Five former senior security officials in Uzbekistan's Bukhara region have been convicted of torture and abuse of office and sentenced to lengthy prison terms, a law enforcement official says.

In November 2017, Mirziyoev signed a decree prohibiting the courts from using evidence obtained through torture, but allegations of torture at the hands of law enforcement authorities have persisted.

Mirziyoev has publicly criticized the security service, comparing its practices with those of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's NKVD during the Great Terror in 1937-38.

 New Allegations of Torture Emerge in Journalist’s Case

eurasianet, 4 Mar 2018

[accessed  24 March 2018]

[accessed  20 January 2019]

Mayorov said Abdullayev informed him that he was tortured in various ways for several days after he was picked up off the street on September 27.

 “They beat him on his back, his legs and along his left arm with a 1-meter-long plastic pipe. The worst torture was that they forced him to go six days without sleeping. For the entire duration of the six days, they didn’t allow him to sit or lie down,” Mayorov said. “The third form of torture was beating him on his back and head with a computer cable.

Mayorov noted later in his statement that Abdullayev said his right arm was spared so he could use it to sign an eventual confession.

Abdullayev was allegedly kept naked in his cells for several days and kept on suicide watch.

“They also subjected him to psychological torture. They said that his daughter, who lives in Russia, would be raped, and that his children living here would be killed. And that they would put his wife in prison too,” Mayorov said.

'No One Is Safe': Journalist Says Suicide Better Than Returning To Torture In Uzbekistan

Tony Wesolowsky, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL Russian Service, 23 Feb 2018

[accessed  27 February 2018]

"I was determined not to return to Uzbekistan alive. I'd rather be in pain for half an hour and die [by suicide] than suffer endlessly as they torture you," Nurmatov told RFE/RL.

"One does not die from torture fast there," Nurmatov says. "They torture and cause pain to a certain point to which you can take it, then they step back, let you recover a little, and begin torturing again. It can go on like that forever."

Nurmatov describes medieval methods of torture. "They pull nails, poke needles into your fingers, they beat you and pour boiling water on you," recounts Nurmatov, whose case to avoid deportation back to Uzbekistan sparked an international outcry.

He says that as he languished in an immigration center in a Moscow suburb, the idea of committing suicide remained in the back of his mind. "For half a year, I constantly kept thinking that something bad was about to happen to me. I was constantly prepared that I would probably have to make the decision at some point to end my life."


Uzbek President's Decree Says Evidence Obtained Though Torture Inadmissible

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL, 1 December 2017

[accessed  3 December 2017]

Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoev has issued a decree emphasizing that evidence obtained under torture is inadmissible in the Central Asian country's courts.

The November 30 decree follows years of international concerns about torture in Uzbekistan and accusations by rights groups that abuse at the hands of the authorities is widespread in its police stations, jails, and prisons.

The order states that evidence obtained by investigators through "torture, psychological and physical pressure and other cruel, inhumane methods that humiliate the dignity of parties in criminal cases or their close relatives" cannot be admissible in court.

It also says that information obtained from suspects and defendants in other ways that violate their rights is inadmissible, and that law enforcement authorities are obliged to explain people's rights to them when involving them in a criminal case.

Human rights activists’ dismay as Uzbekistan autocrat clings to power

Alec Luhn, The Observer, Moscow, 4 April 2015

[accessed 13 April 2015]

A Human Rights Watch report published last September highlighted the extent of the regime’s crackdowns on the political opposition, Muslims and street protesters. According to the report, an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 political opponents have been imprisoned. Of 34 prisoners profiled in detail by Human Rights Watch, 29 have made credible allegations of torture or ill-treatment, including beatings, electric shocks, hangings from wrists and ankles and meagre allowances of food and water. In the past, some prisoners have even reportedly been boiled alive.

Torture and death for Uzbek Muslims in jail

Mansur Mirovalev, Al Jazeera Media Network, Tashkent, 07 Jan 2015

[accessed 24 March 2015]

After 2005 revolt against President Karimov's iron-fisted rule, crackdown against Muslims continues unabated.

What was not mentioned was the men were severely tortured while in detention, according to a report by the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia, or AHRCA.

They were beaten with rubber clubs, electrocuted, and starved for up to six days, said the report citing information from the defendants' families. They had state-appointed lawyers who ignored their pleas, knew about the torture, but never requested medical expertise.

About 12,500 political prisoners in Uzbekistan - more than in the Soviet gulags at the height of the Cold War - are subjected to systematic torture: asphyxiation, electrocution, and beatings, human rights groups, former inmates, and researchers say.

"Torture is a very widespread practise in Uzbekistan," said Atayeva. "Cruel treatment is simply standard."

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or

[accessed 18 March 2015]


CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND TORTURE - In November 2013, the United Nations Committee against Torture stated that torture is “systematic,” “unpunished,” and “encouraged” by law enforcement officers in Uzbekistan’s police stations, prisons, and detention facilities run by the SNB. Methods include beating with batons and plastic bottles, hanging by wrists and ankles, rape, and sexual humiliation.

Although authorities introduced habeas corpus in 2008, there has been no perceptible reduction in the use of torture in pretrial custody or enhanced due process for detainees. Authorities routinely deny detainees and prisoners access to counsel, and the state-controlled bar association has disbarred lawyers that take on politically sensitive cases.

Uzbekistan: Prison, Torture for Critics

Human Rights Watch, Warsaw, 26 Sept 2014

[accessed 17 November 2014]

At least 29 of the 34 current prisoners whose cases Human Rights Watch documented have made credible allegations of torture or ill-treatment. They have been beaten with rubber truncheons or plastic bottles filled with water and tortured with electric shock, hanging by wrists and ankles, threats of rape and sexual humiliation, asphyxiation with plastic bags and gas masks, threats of physical harm to relatives, and denial of food or water.

Azam Farmonov, a rights activist behind bars since 2006, alleges that police placed a sealed mask on his head to simulate suffocation and beat him on his legs and feet to force a false confession. He said that during pretrial custody, he had been beaten on the head with plastic bottles filled with water and that Uzbek security services officers threatened to drive nails into his toes, as well as to harm his loved ones. Following the torture he suffered, according to his wife, Farmonov said to her at his trial, “I will hold out until the very end.”

Until the Very End

Human Rights Watch Report, Until the Very End, 26 Sept 2014

[accessed 17 November 2014]

I. Politically Motivated Imprisonment in Context:  25 Years of Repression

II. Profiles of Individuals Imprisoned on Politically Motivated Charges

III. Prison Abuses and the Arbitrary  Extension of Sentences

IV. International Responses to Uzbekistan’s Policy of Politically Motivated Imprisonment

UN Committee Against Torture does not believe Uzbekistan, 19 December 2013

[accessed 19 Dec 2013]

[accessed 9 August 2017]

Experts from the UN Committee Against Torture once again state that torture is systematic and is unpunished in Uzbekistan and called on the country to bring those responsible to justice.

The Committee expressed concern about the wide-spread use of torture in Uzbekistan by law enforcement in order to obtain confessions.

Even though Uzbekistan is not a party to the European Court of Human Rights, the Committee reminded Uzbek officials that the European Court established in 2011 that the use of “torture and ill-treatment of prisoners in Uzbekistan is systematic, unpunished, and encouraged by law enforcement.”

Uzbekistan: Free Political Prisoners, End Torture -- UN Body Condemns Imprisonment and Alleged Torture of Rights Defenders

Human Rights Watch, Berlin, 6 December 2013

[accessed 7 Dec 2013]

The committee further expressed concern that “human rights defenders that have been deprived of their liberty have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment.” One such case is Azam Formonov, a well-known rights activist, who has been imprisoned at Uzbekistan’s Jaslyk prison colony since 2006. Formonov’s lawyer and relatives told Human Rights Watch that he was tortured frequently both during pretrial custody in 2006 and then in the first years of serving his criminal sentence, including being stripped of his overclothing, handcuffed, and left in an unheated punishment cell for 23 days in January 2008, when temperatures reached approximately -20 degrees Celsius. In 2011 he was bound and beaten for refusing to write a document denying that he had ever been tortured. Additionally, he was repeatedly transferred back and forth to Nukus prison when prison authorities learned that representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were about to visit Jaslyk.

Torture rife in Uzbekistan, U.N. watchdog says

Stephanie Nebehay, Reuters, Geneva, 22 November 2013

[accessed 25 March 2014]

Torture is rife in prisons and police stations in Uzbekistan, where activists are rounded up and routinely mistreated in a crackdown on dissent, the U.N. torture watchdog said on Friday.   It cited "numerous, ongoing and consistent allegations" that detainees in the ex-Soviet state were tortured, including by beatings, rape and sexual violence, to extract confessions.   Some alleged abuses had resulted in deaths in custody, the U.N. Committee against Torture said.   Indeed when it comes to practicising torture, Uzbekistan represents one of countries where torture occurs systematically, and sometimes in the worst forms," George Tugushi, an expert from Georgia on the committee, told a news briefing.

"What we've seen has been a crackdown across the board. Not just punishment of people and continuing use of torture, but actually punishment of those who even report about torture to committees like our own," said Felice Gaer, an American expert who serves as its vice chairwoman.   In 2007, when it last examined Uzbekistan's record, a group of non-governmental organizations had attended, she said.   "They were largely Uzbek. They lined the room, they brought us documentation, they brought us cases.   "When we reviewed Uzbekistan (this time), we didn't have a single Uzbek NGO present. And in fact, this was because some of these people had been imprisoned," she added, mentioning Azam Formonov, Gaibullo Jalilov, Dilmurod Saidov from a long list.

'Uzbeks tortured me,' says British Embassy man

Jonathan Owen & James Hanning, The Independent, 30 June 2013

[accessed 30 June 2013]

Kayum Ortikov, 44, a married father of four who worked for the British government as a security guard, ended up in a dungeon in Tashkent after being arrested on charges of "human trafficking". It appears the extent of his "crime" was trying to help arrange visas for some relatives to work in Russia.

Mr Ortikov claims that his refusal to become an informant for Uzbekistan's secret police led to torture sessions in which he was accused of spying for the British.

In the months after his arrest in December 2008, he says he was hung from the ceiling and beaten, left naked in a freezing room, and burnt on his genitals with a newspaper which had been set alight.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. CAT/C/UZB/CO/3 (2007)

[accessed 12 March 2013]

Widespread torture and ill-treatment

6. The Committee is concerned at the

a) Numerous, ongoing and consistent allegations concerning routine use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment committed by law enforcement and investigative personnel or with their instigation or consent, often to extract confessions or information to be used in criminal proceedings;

b) Credible reports that such acts commonly occur before formal charges are made, and during pre-trial detention, when the detainee is deprived of fundamental safeguards, in particular access to legal counsel. This situation is exacerbated by the reported use of internal regulations which in practice permit procedures contrary to published laws;

c) Failure to conduct prompt and impartial investigations into such allegations of breaches of the Convention; and

d) Allegations that persons held as witnesses are also subjected to intimidation and coercive interrogation and in some cases reprisals.

Conditions of detention

9. While the Committee appreciates the information from the State party regarding surveys of detainee opinions regarding detention facilities, the Committee remains concerned that despite the reported improvements, there are numerous reports of abuses in custody, and many deaths, some of which are alleged to have followed torture or ill-treatment. Furthermore, only some of these have been followed by independent autopsies, and such investigations have not become a regular practice. The Committee is also aware of the concerns raised by the Special Rapporteur on torture regarding Jaslyk detention facility, whose isolated location creates conditions of detention reportedly amounting to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment for both its inmates and their relatives.

Independent monitoring of places of detention

11. While noting the State party’s affirmation that all places of detention are monitored by independent national and international organizations without any restrictions and that they would welcome further inspections including by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Committee remains concerned at information received indicating that acceptable terms of access to detainees was absent, causing, inter alia, the ICRC to cease prison visits in 2004.

Fully independent complaints mechanism

13. Notwithstanding the bodies established by the State parties to investigate complaints, such as through instruction 334 of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and special staff inspection units and the Parliamentary Ombudsperson, the Committee is concerned that these bodies have not been effective in combating torture and lack full independence. The Committee expresses concern that despite the State party’s report of thousands of cases registered annually about alleged abuses by law enforcement personnel, and the Ombudsperson’s visits to places of detention, she has stated that no appeals regarding torture were received and no reason provided.

Closure of human rights and other independent organizations

14. The Committee is concerned at the information received about the intimidation, restrictions and imprisonment of members of human rights monitoring organizations, human rights defenders and other civil society groups and the closing down of numerous national and international organizations, particularly since May 2005. The Committee appreciates the information that Mutabar Tojibayava is eligible for amnesty, but remains concerned at the reports of ill-treatment and denial of fundamental safeguards regarding her trial and those of other civil society advocates and detainees.

Evidence obtained through torture

18. While appreciating the frank acknowledgement by the representatives of the State party that confessions under torture have been used as a form of evidence in some proceedings, and notwithstanding the Supreme Court’s actions to prohibit the admissibility of such evidence, the Committee remains concerned that the principle of non-admissibility of such evidence is not being respected in every instance.

Human Rights in Uzbekistan

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 17 February 2013]

[accessed 17 February 2013]

Uzbekistan’s human rights record is atrocious. Torture is endemic in the criminal justice system. Authorities intensified their crackdown on civil society activists, opposition members, and journalists. Muslims and Christians who practice their religion outside strict state controls are persecuted, and freedom of expression is severely limited. The government forces more than one million adults and children to harvest cotton under abusive conditions.


From an old article -- URL not available

Article was published sometime prior to 2015

TORTURE AND OTHER ILL-TREATMENT - Torture and other ill-treatment of detainees and prisoners by security forces and prison personnel continued to be routine. Scores of reports of torture and other ill-treatment emerged during the year, especially from men and women suspected or convicted of belonging to Islamic movements and Islamist groups and parties or other religious groups, banned in Uzbekistan. As in previous years, the authorities failed to conduct prompt, thorough, and impartial investigations into such reports and into complaints lodged with the Prosecutor General’s Office.

In August, Jehovah’s Witness Gulchehra Abdullaeva reported that she had been tortured at a police station in the town of Hazorasp, to make her confess to smuggling banned religious literature into Uzbekistan, a charge she denied. Police officers arbitrarily detained her in July after she returned from a trip to Kazakhstan. She said that they forced her to stand for hours without food or water, placed a gas mask over her head and cut off the air supply to suffocate her. She was made to sign a statement admitting to participating in proscribed religious activities and was then released. On 28 July she was convicted by the Hazorasp District Court of “teaching religious beliefs privately”, and fined. Gulchehra Abdullaeva appealed against her sentence and lodged official complaints with the authorities but officials refused to respond or address her complaints.


Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 7   Civil Liberties: 7   Status: Not Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 17 February 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

Police routinely abuse and torture suspects to extract confessions, which are accepted by judges as evidence and often serve as the basis for convictions. A 2007 report by Human Rights Watch described torture as “endemic” to the criminal justice system.

Prisons suffer from severe overcrowding and shortages of food and medicine. As with detained suspects, prison inmates—particularly those sentenced for their religious beliefs—are often subjected to abuse or torture, and Human Rights Watch has documented a number of torture-related deaths in custody during the last few years. Mutabar Tojiboyeva, a rights activist released in 2008 after several years behind bars, described prisons as “islands of torture.”

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 17 February 2013]

[accessed 7 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – Although the law prohibits such practices, police and the NSS routinely tortured, beat, and otherwise mistreated detainees to obtain confessions or incriminating information. Police, prison officials, and the NSS allegedly used suffocation, electric shock, deprivation of food and water, and sexual abuse, with beating the most commonly reported method of abuse. Torture and abuse were common in prisons, pretrial facilities, and local police and security service precincts. Several cases of medical abuse were reported, including forced psychiatric treatment on political grounds and alleged sterilization of women without notification or medical need. Defendants in trials often claimed that their confessions, on which the prosecution based its cases, were extracted as a result of torture (see section 1.e.). A 2003 UN Special Rapporteur on Torture report concluded torture and abuse was systematic throughout the investigative process. During the year the government took a few steps towards reform confined to education and outreach, while in large part it showed little will to address UN conclusions. The office of the prosecutor general blocked a Ministry of Interior (MVD) initiative to create an independent body to investigate the most serious allegations of physical abuse by officials. During the year government officials confirmed that prison regulations permit beatings under the supervision of medical doctors, and prison authorities document all such incidents in detail for prison records. Judges rarely pursued allegations of torture.

Authorities treated individuals suspected of extreme Islamist political sympathies, particularly alleged members of HT, more harshly than ordinary criminals. There were credible reports that investigators subjected pretrial detainees suspected to be HT members to particularly severe interrogation. After trial, authorities reportedly used disciplinary and punitive measures, including torture, more often with prisoners convicted of extremism than with ordinary inmates. Local human rights workers reported that common criminals were often paid or otherwise induced by authorities to beat HT members. As in previous years there were numerous credible reports that officials in several prisons abused HT members to obtain letters of repentance, which are required for a prisoner to be eligible for amnesty. According to prisoners' relatives, amnestied prisoners, and human rights activists, inmates who refused to write letters disavowing their connection to HT were often beaten or sent into solitary confinement. During the year inmates and a guard at one prison corroborated reports that prison guards systematically beat suspected HT members following the March and April 2004 terrorist attacks.

In February two Sufi Muslims claimed authorities tortured them while in detention (see section 2.c.). In a February trial in Tashkent of six defendants charged with terrorism in connection with the March and April 2004 terrorist bombings and the July 2004 suicide bombings in Tashkent, one defendant testified that he had been beaten repeatedly while in custody (see section 1.e.). In June MVD officers allegedly subjected Yakubjon Aliev to repeated severe beatings during interrogation. Aliev was under arrest on charges that included religious extremism and anticonstitutional activity. On July 18, Aliev's lawyer protested this treatment in writing to the office of the prosecutor general. At year's end the government had not taken action on the case.

The death certificate of Shavkat Madumarov, who died in prison on September 14, reported the cause of his death as HIV and anemia, but his family alleged authorities subjected him to debilitating torture during interrogation and in prison. The family reported government officials delivered Madumarov's body to their home in a sealed casket, monitored the funeral, and warned the family not to open the casket, or they would face prosecution. The government did not allow an independent investigation into the case.

During the year outside monitors, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), were unable to gain access to visit the Tashkent MVD, where in 2004 eyewitnesses, family members, defense attorneys, and representatives of human rights groups claimed authorities frequently and systematically applied torture following the March and April 2004 terrorist attacks.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Uzbekistan",, [accessed <date>]