The UN human rights chief on Tuesday called for a “prompt, independent and transparent investigation” into the deadly protest in Uzbekistan’s autonomous Karakalpakstan region.
"The reports we have received about serious violence, including killings, during the protests are very concerning. I call on the authorities to exercise utmost restraint," Michelle Bachelet said in a statement.
Citing the latest figures that at least 18 people were killed and 243 injured during the clashes between protesters and security forces, she noted that it is feared the real number of casualties may be higher.
"Under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Uzbekistan is a State Party, everyone has the right to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and the right to participate in public affairs," Bachelet said.
People should not be criminalized for exercising their rights, she added.
Bachelet also urged the relevant authorities to "immediately open a transparent and independent investigation" into any allegations of criminal acts to ensure accountability.
At least 18 people were killed and 243 others injured, including 94 seriously, during clashes between protesters and security forces on July 1-2 in the regional capital Nukus, according to Uzbekistan's General Prosecutor's Office.
Protests had erupted over proposed constitutional changes that would have affected the region’s autonomous status.
On Saturday, Uzbekistan announced a month-long state of emergency in Karakalpakstan. The decree was signed by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev after demonstrations erupted in the region.
The decree limits entry and exit from the province and all public events are prohibited./agencies