Uzbek police reject claims of treating sect members unlawfully

Tashkent, Uzbekistan - Measures applied to a group of sect members in southern Uzbekistan at the end of the summer were lawful, the Uzbek Interior Ministry said.

"Reports claiming that 23 members of a sect who had gathered in the Surkhandarya region [bordering Afghanistan and Tajikistan] were beaten and treated unlawfully by law enforcement services are untrue," Alisher Sharipov, head of the Uzbek Interior Ministry's Legal and Public Relations Department, told journalists on Tuesday.

Sharipov said that a group of Pentecostalists arrived at a holiday resort in southern Uzbekistan for an illegal assembly in mid-August.

"We disagree with assertions that no charges were brought against those detained, or that violence was applied. Reports that several women had been sexually harassed are also untrue," the spokesman said.

After the detainees' identities were established, the women and children were taken back to the resort. Four detainees were sentenced to five days of arrest under administrative charges, and five others were fined for violating the rules of entering and residing in the border zone, he said.