Uzbekistan: President shuts down notorious prison

TASHKENT (TCA) — Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has ordered the closure of the Jaslyk prison in the Central Asian country’s northwest, an institution that has long been associated with torture and human rights abuses, RFE/RL reported.

The Uzbek Interior Ministry called the presidential order to shut down the infamous facility “a truly historic decision that was made to boost the effectiveness of the correctional impact on convicts…as well to promote the country’s positive image abroad.”

Situated in the Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan, which is known for its severely cold winters and hot, dry summers, Jaslyk earned nicknames such as “The House of Torture” and “The Place of No Return.”

Some of the inmates who managed to survive stints in Jaslyk have told stories about torture there, including electric shocks, sexual assault, pulling out prisoners’ fingernails, and long stints of solitary confinement without food or drink.

The prison was opened by former authoritarian President Islam Karimov at a former Soviet military base to incarcerate thousands of people arrested following deadly 1999 bombings in the capital, Tashkent, that authorities blamed on “religious extremists.”

For many years, international human rights organizations and the United Nations have called on Uzbek authorities to shut down the facility.

Mirziyoyev, a former prime minister, became president after Karimov’s death was announced in September 2016.

Since then, Mirziyoyev has taken steps to implement reforms in Uzbekistan after accusations of widespread rights abuses under Karimov.

Sergey Kwan

TCA

Sergey Kwan has worked for The Times of Central Asia as a journalist, translator and editor since its foundation in March 1999. Prior to this, from 1996-1997, he worked as a translator at The Kyrgyzstan Chronicle, and from 1997-1999, as a translator at The Central Asian Post.
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Kwan studied at the Bishkek Polytechnic Institute from 1990-1994, before completing his training in print journalism in Denmark.

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