US NGO Closed, Two More Under Scrutiny in Uzbekistan
Monday, June 5, 2006 11:10 AM

TASHKENT, 1 June (IRIN) - A court in Uzbekistan on Thursday ordered the closure of the local office of a US-funded educational organisation for violating domestic laws, including the constitution.

A French aid group and a Hungarian charity are also under scrutiny as the Central Asian country continues to crack down on foreign NGOs in the country.

The Tashkent civil court ordered the liquidation of the American Council for Collaboration in Education and Language Study (ACCELS) for repeatedly violating domestic regulations, press-uz.infor, a pro-government internet site said.

Among other misdemeanors, ACCELS, allegedly without informing the authorities, sent more than 100 senior pupils to study in the US in 2005, the internet site said, quoting the judge. The justice ministry said that the US NGO had received repeated warnings about violating local laws and had also failed to keep appropriate financial records.

In addition, Tashkent has also issued a warning to French environmental and agricultural NGO COFUTIS, giving it 30 days to provide financial and statistical data, reported.

COFUTIS, operating in the country since 1996, is implementing a sand stabilisation project in the Aral Sea region in the northwest, as well as an environmental project in the eastern province of Ferghana.

A Hungarian religious charity known as Magyar Okumenikus Szeretetszolgalat is also in the government's spotlight to see "whether the mission is observing Uzbek legislation and whether its activities correspond to the goals declared in its charter," according to the same website.

The charity is involved in promoting the social integration of disabled women and parents living with disabled children, according to group's website.

Over the past six months, Uzbek authorities have expelled the Eurasia Foundation, Freedom House, the International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), the American Bar Association, Counterpart International, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL).

Tashkent has grown increasingly wary of international organisations operating on its soil, following last year's bloody crackdown in the southeastern city of Andijan.

According to some rights groups, up to 1,000 people may have been killed by security forces during protests in Andijan province. Uzbek officials place the official Andijan death toll at 187.

NOTE: These reports do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies.

© Integrated Regional Information Network (IRIN)

Published in:, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, 1 June 2006.