Ўзбекистон Республикаси адлия вазири Р.Давлетовнинг ЕИ ва Марказий Осиё адлия вазирларининг бешинчи учрашувидаги маърузаси (инглиз тилида) RSS обуна
Ўзбекистон Республикаси адлия вазири Р.Давлетовнинг ЕИ ва Марказий Осиё адлия вазирларининг бешинчи учрашувидаги маърузаси (инглиз тилида)
meeting of Ministers of Justice
of the Central Asia and the EU
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen!
First of all, let me express my gratitude to the hosts for this opportunity to take part in this meeting. It is a pleasure to be here with you all today.
In my speech I would like to highlight some of the most important and the sweeping processes taking place in Uzbekistan recently.
Since last year, the Government has been engaged in rapid reforms, predominantly in order to ensure law and order, protect fundamental human rights and freedoms and create positive investment climate. The reforms taken place in 2017 can be considered historical and a “breakthrough” for Uzbekistan.
We do recognize that there have been difficulties and obstacles in the past in setting direct dialogue with our citizens and listening to their demands and needs, ensuring full transparency of state bodies’ activities, transition to open economy policy, manual government of socioeconomic issues, but currently the government is taking effective measures in improving the situation.
In 2017, an initiative of President of Uzbekistan Mirziyoyev followed by nationwide discussion resulted in the adoption of a 5-year Development Strategy Program. This document identifies major tasks in five main fields:
– Improvement of government regulation and public participation in politics;
– Ensuring the Rule of law and further reform of the judicial system;
– Liberalization of the economy;
– Strengthening the social protection;
– open and friendly foreign policy, improving security, religious tolerance and inter-ethnic harmony.
Since the adoption of the program, more than 700 laws and regulations have been introduced within the last 7 months.
First: One of the most important changes in Uzbek public policy I would like to mention is that the Government of Uzbekistan put forward a new initiative directed at lifting the level of cooperation with people and set up new scheme to deal with the needs of people, business, NGOs and any other civil society institutions.
Meanwhile, the state agencies feel more responsible directly before the people. The slogan: “the people must not serve the government bodies, rather the government bodies must serve the people” has already become part of daily work of government authorities.
The special offices under the name of the Head of the State were opened for filing complaints, petitions and recommendations by the citizen in all regions and districts, rural areas – 200 of them all over the country.
Also newly established online system allowed 1,4 million people to refer their problems and issues directly to the President. The uniqueness of this system is that all the applications and complaints are strongly controlled by the President’s administration.
This system is a new phenomenon in Uzbekistan. It has earned trust among people and organizations in addressing their problems. By developing this system, we can ensure transparency of state bodies’ activities.
Mass media of Uzbekistan has also seen dramatic changes. The role of media and social network has increased to the extent that people’s belief in the local TV channels increased by three times and the number of social network users in the country increased by five times for the last year. Now, people actively communicate with state bodies and civil servants in social networks, such as Facebook and Twitter. The freedom of speech has now no barriers.
Many online broadcasted TV programs, talk shows started inviting high governmental officials, including mayors, ministers, and heads of law enforcement bodies, who are engaging in the direct talk with people and discussing the major problems and issues.
Second: Since corruption is causing tremendous problems for the national development, the Uzbek government has started openly fighting the corruption at all levels. The new leadership of Uzbekistan demonstrated strong political will in this matter and decisively introduced new measures in all spheres, including in state procurements by adopting a special law and an action plan on fighting against corruption.
Third: another sphere that saw a significant reform is the judicial system. Main emphasis put on ensuring the real independence of the judiciary both structural and procedural. So, what has been done so far? I can point some substantial moments.
a) In order to improve the dispute resolution mechanism, few months ago Uzbekistan has created:
– 71 additional economic courts, for the first time to improve access to justice new district level economic courts have been introduced with 200 more judges.
– completely new administrative courts have been created (with 350 judges all over the country).
b) New independent body, i.e. Supreme Judicial Council has been formed. This Council deals with arranging the appointment of judges and disciplinary matters;
c) Now, after serving a five-year term the judges may be appointed for ten-year term and then lifetime without time limit.
Fourth: the next sphere that has been reformed is the criminal and judicial investigation system. The Uzbek Government has adopted a number of legal acts aimed at ensuring independence of the judiciary, improving the quality and transparency of justice system in Uzbekistan, expanding Habeas Corpus Pact and creating an effective anti-corruption system.
One such resolution is a recently adopted Presidential decree, which abolished the possibility to return criminal cases by courts for additional investigation, which in the past dragged out time and created problems for defendants and other persons. This measure resulted in the increase of the responsibility of judicial and investigative authorities.
Let us look at the numbers. While in the last five years only 7 persons were acquitted, within 10 months of 2017 courts issued 191 acquittals. In addition, preliminary investigative bodies have terminated 3511 criminal cases for rehabilitating and other reasons.
Another recently adopted Presidential decree focused on protection and strengthening of the rights of citizens in judicial-investigation. This decree prohibits using evidence obtained by illegal actions including torture, psychological and physical pressure, and other cruel and inhumane treatment against defendants, witnesses or other individuals.
In order to ensure that starting fr om the next year investigators are obliged to use video recording during all main investigative actions, including testimonies. In addition, pre-trial detention centers and temporary detention facilities must install video surveillance equipment.
The Decree also set an increased responsibility for perjury and false denunciation.
Fifth: We are strongly convinced that our main goal for the coming years should be the agreement of approaches to transform Uzbekistan into the most favorable place for investors.
Over a short period of time, the country adopted 3 laws, more than 20 presidential decrees and 25 resolutions, aimed at improving the business climate in the country and developing entrepreneurial activity.
We are carrying out a significant review of our legislative acts and practices in order to attract foreign investment. At the moment, the draft Investment Code is being developed. We clearly understand that our further development depends on the steps that we will take today and in the near future.
Sixth: I would like to emphasize a very important reform, which is starting now. That is the Concept of Administrative Reforms aimed at modernizing the state regulation and effective functioning of the public bodies. The document stipulates the sweeping actions towards better and smarter regulation, reforming the civil service, limiting the role of the government in regulating the economy and giving more chances to the free market economy.
The Concept outlines priority reforms aimed at creating an effective and transparent public administration system in line with the Development Strategy Program, ensuring and protecting citizens’ rights and freedoms.
The adoption of this Concept is an important step towards building transparent, effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. The implementation of the Concept will contribute to fulfilling the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, and specifically Goal on Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.
Undoubtedly, the launch of the administrative reform will result in enhancing the competitiveness in Uzbekistan.
I would like to note that these dramatic changes create a strong and reliable foundation for securing civil society and increasing trust of people and business entities to the state authorities.
So, although there are more reforms that have been implemented, these are in short what we have been through lately. It is naive to believe though that many problems have already found their solutions. There is still much work ahead to find reasonable compromises on the way to consolidate and develop the achievements reached. In our opinion, it is time to work out the priorities for joint advancement.
We are convinced that the need for further development of cooperation should be based on common interests, especially in important areas such as the rule of law and security.
We know that for 2014-2020 the European Commission mainly focuses on providing assistance in the development of rural regions in Uzbekistan.
But we also know that during their visits to Uzbekistan, the head of the CEU Directorate General for Development and International Cooperation, S.Manservizi and the European Commissioner for Development, N. Mimitsa confirmed the readiness of the EU to intensify cooperation in the field of security, including in the form of technical assistance projects.
A few years ago, the Uzbekistan participated in a major EU project – "Support to Criminal Judicial Reforms in Uzbekistan" with a budget of 10 million Euros. We reaffirm our interest in continuing cooperation through similar projects, in the form of a second phase.
Taking into account the above great scale reforms, I can confidently say we are ready to run courageous projects in order to implement the plans and reach the set goals.
In this regard, let me point out the following aspects regarding Uzbekistan's vision for cooperation with the EU in the relevant areas:
First, in our understanding the development of rural regions is not only limited to the agricultural sector, but also other areas connected with the countryside one way or another.
In particular, enhancing the performance of “one-stop-shop” centers which deliver state services and as well as notary offices is very demanded in rural areas. By improving these centers and offices we intend to increase the level of public services for citizens in rural areas.
Starting from 2017 “one-stop-shop” centers became subordinated to the Ministry of Justice. Since then we have been reforming this field, and, as a result, the kinds of public services that are rendered by these centers to business entities increased from 16 to 33. In 2018-2020 it is planned to increase the number up to 104, which would also include services to natural persons.
Second, one more significant change in the legal sector being considered at the moment regards to the improvement of legal services in Uzbekistan, enhancing the attorneys’ rights and legal representations particularly in criminal cases to ensure the rights of the defendant. At the moment we are working on a draft law on reforming this field. Such reforms should aim at expanding the rights of attorneys and practically increasing their role in criminal and judicial processes.
Moreover, the daft law allows foreign citizens to render legal consultancy services. We are also encouraging top international law firms to come and open their representative offices. We inherited the soviet style system wh ere law firms are considered NGOs, but now we are changing this attitude. For that reason, we are ready to amend the legislation so that they and other local law firms can function as commercial entities.
Third, one more point on legal services. Starting from the next year we are planning to introduce public-private partnership (PPP) in notary services. After that, all notary offices will steadily become non-governmental.
We are interested in the EU experience in this field. We need experts in private and public sectors. Such interaction can be expressed in the form of both projects and individual cooperation.
Fourth, Taking into account the recent reforms in the field of criminal proceedings, and based on the studies of advanced international experience, we are planning to improve legislation and methodology for investigating and reviewing criminal cases, expanding the use of innovative forms and methods for conducting forensic investigations, simplifying criminal proceedings, including through the introduction of the “Electronic Criminal Justice System”.
This system also requires both international experts and financial support.
Fifth, in order to ensure the criminal justice we need to improve the forensic examination facilities. In this regard, I would like to mention that the Republican forensic examination center needs modern equipment and knowledgeable experts in this field.
Sixth, training experts with a great expertise and increasing their skills are always major issues for the achievement of planned tasks. Therefore, we need to train our lawyers and provide them with knowledge based on international best practices such as the ones of the EU countries.
Seventh, we invite EU partners to implement a project to retain European experts in the rule-making in the field of business and investment legislation based on international best practices in order to attract foreign investment.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that the policy pursued in our country demonstrates once again Uzbekistan’s readiness for perspective and mutually beneficial relations with the EU. In the context of dramatic reforms in the country during their visit to Uzbekistan foreign experts observed that “today is a fantastic time for investing in the Republic of Uzbekistan, the growing trade and economic potential and political stability in the country allow room for realization of high-scale projects in Uzbekistan”. We are interested in the stability and the development of the whole Central Asian region and urge the EU to cooperate on all the legal reforms in Uzbekistan taking into account its key role in ensuring stability and sustainable development in the region, as well as its current foreign policy aimed at strengthening the contacts among the CA countries in all areas.
Thank you for your attention!