Uzbek Defender Missing
New York, April 3, 2003 —A human rights defender from Uzbekistan who
was to speak at the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva has
gone missing, Human Rights Watch said today.
Ozoda Rafikova, a physician and mother of four, was to speak at a joint
briefing on Friday, April 4 with the U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture
to discuss his recent report about torture in Uzbekistan. She was last
seen on April 2 going through passport control at Sheremetevo I airport
in Moscow, where she was to subsequently transfer for a flight to
Geneva. She never arrived in Geneva and all efforts to locate her in
Moscow have been unsuccessful.
“We urge all relevant authorities to do everything in their power to
find Dr. Ozoda and ensure her safety,” said Elizabeth Andersen,
executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Europe and Central Asia
Human Rights Watch has worked with Dr. Ozoda for more than a year on
torture-related issues, and is also participating in the briefing.
Dr. Ozoda was to give first-hand testimony about torture in Uzbekistan.
She is the mother of a torture victim currently in Jaslyk Prison,
Uzbekistan’s notorious facility for those arrested on charges of
“All governments have a duty to take all possible measures to cooperate
with and protect witnesses who are prepared to testify with U.N. special
rapporteurs and other U.N. human rights mechanisms,” said Andersen. “We
ask that all relevant authorities do so as a matter of urgent priority.”
For further information, please contact:
In New York, Rachel Denber: 1-212-216-1266