Delivered to the OSCE Permanent Council on 30 July 2020.
The United Kingdom was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Azimzhan Askarov in prison in Kyrgyzstan on 25 July 2020.
Mr Askarov was a renowned human rights defender and long-standing partner of ODIHR. As ODIHR’s statement of 25 July noted, he had spent many years prior to his arrest in 2010 documenting police abuse and brutality in his native Kyrgyzstan. Mr Askarov was given a life sentence in 2010 despite serious concerns over flaws in the judicial process.
In 2016, the UN Human Rights Committee called for his release, having found that Mr Askarov had been arbitrarily detained, tortured, held in “inhumane” conditions and “prevented from adequately preparing his trial defence”. Despite this, on 13 May this year, the Supreme Court of the Kyrgyz Republic upheld his life sentence. The UK called on Kyrgyzstan to release Mr Askarov at that time.
It is therefore with deep regret and sadness that we note that Mr Askarov died in prison, without his family and without proper medical care. We express our sincere condolences to Mr Askarov’s family and friends as they mourn their loss.