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Uzbekistan14 May 2007

Next six months to be decisive after European Council eases sanctions again

Reporters Without Borders said it took note of the European Council’s decision today to ease its sanctions on Uzbekistan by withdrawing four names from a list of government figures who are denied entry to the European Union.

“The next six months will be decisive,” the press freedom organisation said. “We urge all human rights and press freedom organisations to remain vigilant. Uzbekistan must now give evidence of a firm commitment to improve human rights. The time for statements of good intentions is over. We appeal to President Islam Karimov to release imprisoned human rights activists and journalists.”

Reporters Without Borders added: “To maintain its credibility, Europe must be ready to reinforce the sanctions if the Uzbek authorities do not adopt any measures designed to improve the human rights situation.”

The EU voted to adopt sanctions against Uzbekistan after a government crackdown on an uprising in the eastern city of Andijan on 13 May 2005 left a death toll estimated at about 800 by human rights groups (and 187 by the government). Since then, the sanctions have been reexamined every six months and were already eased slightly on 13 November 2006.

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