Association

The right to freedom of association is strictly controlled and restricted by the government. The Code of Administrative Responsibility regulates NGOs and registering is compulsory. The authorities claim that there are over 6 000 NGOs operating in the country; however, an overwhelming majority of these are supported by or affiliated with the government. The few independent groups working on human rights issues continue to face serious obstacles, including cumbersome registration processes. The number of activists imprisoned is not known but many have been arrested and die behind bars. The government also routinely refuses to release activists whose jail terms would have ended. Activists are also tortured by intelligence officials to extract confessions and information from them. Human rights defenders and activists continuously report that they are targeted sometimes through extreme measures which include false diagnoses of mental illness that results in their enforced incarceration. For example, in March 2016, the head of the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan was detained in a psychiatric clinic despite a clean bill of health by her doctor. The state also bars activists from travelling by withholding exit visas from those who criticise the government. Secret renditions by the national intelligence of activists abroad is widely reported. Though President Mirziyoyev has mostly followed late President Karimov's heavy-handed rule, several government critics imprisoned on politically-motivated grounds have been released in the past few months. In October 2016, human rights defender Bobomurad Razzokov was released due to poor health, and a month later political activist, Samandar Kukanov, walked free after 24 years in prison.