Human rights defender Ms Tatiana Dovlatova and members of her family are being subjected to ongoing intimidation, harassment, threats and continuous surveillance by law enforcement authorities in Uzbekistan following a television broadcast in which she spoke out against the human rights situation in the country. Tatiana Dovlatova is a member of the Human Rights Alliance of Uzbekistan, an unregistered organisation which works on human rights issues including torture, access to justice, the right to a fair trial, economic and social rights, and the rights of vulnerable groups in Uzbekistan.
On 24 April 2011, Ms Tatiana Dovlatova appeared on a Russian television programme speaking about the harsh living conditions of pensioners and disabled persons in Uzbekistan as a result of the small allowances which they were granted by the state. The broadcast followed an interview which she had given in February 2011 to journalist, Igor Shestakov.
On 25 April 2011, at approximately 9pm, the day after the programme was broadcast, four women arrived at Tatiana Dovlatova's home. They demanded that she appear on Uzbeki television to retract the statements she had made on the programme and warned her that she would be sorry for shaming the country. Tatiana Dovlatova reported the incident to the police in Yakkasaray district, however her complaint was not followed up. In August 2011, the same women visited her again and threatened to burn down her house and chase her out of Uzbekistan.
On 11 May 2011, Tatiana Dovlatova was summoned to the Yakkasaray district court to answer a claim lodged by Ms Antonina Nikolaeva and her niece Ms Natalia Lebedeva. The two women , who were reportedly encouraged by the NSS, claimed that on the day of the interview, Tatiana Dovlatova had trespassed on Antonina Nikolaeva's property when she visited her with the journalist, despite the fact that Ms Nikolaeva appeared very welcoming on camera. Tatiana Dovlatova was fined 10 000 000 Uzbek Soms (€4175) and 25 000 Uzbek Soms (€11) in legal costs for trespassing, insulting Ms Nikolaeva and causing moral damages under Art. 1022(2) of the Civil Code of Republic of Uzbekistan. It also ordered her to apologise to Ms Lebedeva for comments made by the programme director, Mr Rogatkin and to pay an additional fine of 798 501 Soms (€334) for no apparent reason. As she could not afford to pay the fine, a lien was placed over her property and a travel ban was imposed against her. Her husband subsequently had to sell his apartment in order to pay off the fine.
In June 2011, the local authorities stopped financial assistance to Tatiana Dovlatova and refused to issue proof to the effect that her family was considered disadvantaged. She wrote a complaint to the municipality of Yakkasaray district against Mr Ubaidulla Asadov, the chair of the local administration. Mr Asadov did not reply to the complaint but instead wrote to the local prosecutor's office claiming that Tatiana Dovlatova had come to his office on 30 June 2011 and insulted him. On 7 July 2011, she was sentenced on charges of disorderly conduct (Art 183 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Republic of Uzbekistan) by the Yakkasaray Criminal Court, in a hearing that lasted less than five minutes, and was fined 200 000 Uzbek Soms (€84). She was denied a lawyer and an interpreter and was refused an opportunity to familiarise herself with the case. She appealed the decision to the Tashkent Criminal Court but was never informed of the appeal date despite her specific request to be notified. Her appeal was rejected in her absence. Later that month, her disability privileges were removed. On 27 October 2011 she was forced to put her home up for auction as she was unable to repay the fines against her.
Tatiana Dovaltova's family members have also been targeted following the broadcast of the aforementioned television programme. On 8 September 2011, her husband was dismissed from his job allegedly at the request of the NSS. On 11 September 2011, a car company took two cars that her son in law and his brother had nearly entirely paid for under a hire purchase scheme. The company were reportedly told by the NSS that it did not have to return any of the purchase price monies to the men. Her daughter and her family were forced to move to Ukraine following on-going harassment and surveillance by police officials.
Front Line Defenders believes that the ongoing intimidation, threats and surveillance of human rights defender Tatiana Dovlatova and members of her family are directly related to her human rights work and in particular the legitimate exercise of her right to freedom of expression. Front Line Defenders is seriously concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Tatiana Dovlatova and her family.
Front Line Defenders urges the authorities in Uzbekistan to:
- Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into ongoing intimidation, threats and surveillance of human rights defender Tatiana Dovlatova and members of her family with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;
- Lift the travel ban on Tatiana Dovlatova as it is believed that this measure has been taken against her solely on account of his legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights;
- Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Tatiana Dovlatova as well as of members of her family;
- Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Uzbekistan are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
For actions see http://frontlinedefenders.org/node/17211/action