NGOs urge Kyrgyzstan to release Azimjon Askarov amid COVID-19 crisis


On 22 March, the Government of Kyrgyzstan declared state of emergency measures and introduced restrictions on public life after several people in the country were diagnosed with COVID‐19.

States have an obligation to ensure medical care for all those in their custody at least equivalent to that available to the general population, and must not deny or limit detainees’ equal access to preventive, curative or palliative health care.

Governments should also consider reducing their prison populations, including by considering if the present situation qualifies prisoners for parole, early or conditional release, or other alternative non‐custodial measures. Individuals at high risk of suffering serious effects from the virus, such as older people and people with underlying health conditions, should also be considered for similar release with regard to whether the detention facility has the capacity to protect their health.

In this context, we would like to bring to your attention the continued detention of human rights defender and journalist Azimjon Askarov.

Mr. Askarov is among the population that is at risk of being disproportionately affected by the virus. He is now 68 years old and has for years suffered from deteriorating health, including cardiac and respiratory problems, and has not received appropriate and adequate medical attention.

We call upon the President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbay Jeenbekov to urgently release Mr. Askarov, and until then ensure that actions are taken to protect his health, ensure access to appropriate hygiene, screening and if needed medical assistance.


  • Amnesty International
  • Civil Rights Defenders
  • Committee to Protect Journalists
  • Front Line Defenders
  • Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights
  • Human Rights Watch
  • International Federation for Human Rights, within the framework of the Observatory for the
  • Protection of Human Rights Defenders
  • International Partnership for Human Rights
  • World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of the Observatory for the
  • Protection of Human Rights Defenders

Read the full letter here.