CPJ urges Kyrgyzstan to release Azimjon Askarov

New York, April 25, 2016–Kyrgyz authorities should immediately and fully comply with the U.N. Human Rights Committee’s calls to free imprisoned journalist Azimjon Askarov, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Court announced in a statement on its website today that if Askarov requests a review of his case, the Kyrgyz constitution obliges the court to hear it, in light of findings announced Friday by the U.N. Human Rights Committee.

The 18 human-rights experts who comprise the Human Rights Committee on April 21 urged Kyrgyzstan to immediately free the journalist, “quash his conviction, and, if necessary, conduct a new trial,” and to provide him with adequate compensation. In its response today, the Supreme Court did not indicate whether Askarov will be freed pending its review, nor indicate when it would begin reviewing his case. The same court in December 2011 upheld Askarov’s conviction and life sentence.

“Kyrgyzstan should not pick and choose from the U.N. experts’ findings, but should immediately comply with all of its provisions,” said Muzaffar Suleymanov, CPJ Europe and Central Asia senior research associate. “We urge Kyrgyz authorities to free Askarov unconditionally and without delay.”