UN Lauds Uzbekistan Role in Returning Women, Children From Conflict Zones

The UN Human Rights Commission on Tuesday praised the government of Uzbekistan for its continued support for repatriation of women and children from conflict zones.

Uzbekistan was commended for its “Operation Mehr”, or Mercy operation since May 2019 involving the repatriation and reintegration of hundreds of women and children mostly from conflict zones in Syria but also from Iraq and Afghanistan, the UN said in a statement.

While praising the country’s efforts in protection of human rights, the UN recommended Uzbekistan authorities for bringing substantial reform in the country’s extremism and counter-terrorism laws.

The Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, called for increased measures to protect fundamental human rights including expression, assembly, fair trial, deprivation of liberty, freedom from torture, and the right to religious freedom and belief.

Aoláin had just concluded the 10-day visit to the country addressing a range of counter-terrorism issues, the, the UN Human Rights Office said in a statement.

“The Uzbek model premised on family unity and community support is an example of best practice on repatriation, placing the best interest of the child, and the meaningful reintegration of women returning from conflict zones at the centre of political, legal and social action,” Ní Aoláin said.

Thousands of women and children have been arbitrarily detained in camps in North-East Syria. UN experts say they are exposed to violence, exploitation, abuse and deprivation in conditions and treatment that may well amount to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment under international law, with no effective remedy at their disposal.

Ní Aoláin commended the Government’s practical focus on avoiding stigmatization, ensuring access to fundamental rights including economic and social rights, and underscored the value of the Government’s partnership with UNICEF, and other UN human rights entities, including her mandate and OHCHR.

“The Uzbek model of repatriation and reintegration provides a road-map for other governments to return their nationals from conflict zones,” she said, adding the country had shown how this can be done effectively, humanely and in a human rights compliant manner.

She encouraged ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the repatriation process to ensure ongoing human rights protection and sharing of knowledge among key stakeholders including the international community and civil society.

In respect of past human rights violations, she said accountability and transparency would increase and deepen current reform efforts.

Ní Aoláin recommended the establishment of a formal and independent review mechanism with the capacity to investigate and provide meaningful remedies and reparations to address serious violations of human rights of those persons previously detained in national security cases particularly those who experienced torture, inhuman or degrading treatment.


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