Доклад министра юстиции Республики Узбекистан Р.Давлетова на Сегменте высокого уровня 37-ой сессии Совета ООН по правам человека (на английском языке) RSS подписка
Доклад министра юстиции Республики Узбекистан Р.Давлетова на Сегменте высокого уровня 37-ой сессии Совета ООН по правам человека (на английском языке)
Dear Mr. Chairman of the Human Rights Council,
Dear UN High Commissioner for Human Rights,
Your Excellencies, the Heads of Delegations of States,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, let me express my gratitude to the hosts for the opportunity given to me to take part in this High Level Segment.
In my speech, I would like to highlight some of the most important and the sweeping processes, which have taken place in Uzbekistan since the Presidential election in 2016.
Particularly, 2017 was very productive for Uzbekistan in terms of international cooperation in the protection of human rights. Last year Uzbekistan welcomed eminent representatives of the international community such as the UN Secretary General Antonio Guttereş and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein.
It is notable that the Special Rapporteur on Freedom or Religion Ahmed Shaheed visited Uzbekistan for the first time in 15 years. Moreover, the Regional Representative of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Central Asia Richard Comenda and the International Non-Government Organization “Human Rights Watch” also paid a visit to Uzbekistan after many years.
The visit of the UN High Commissioner resulted in the adoption of the Action Plan on Cooperation with the High Commissioner Office, which includes 90 events directed at ensuring the protection of human rights and freedoms. The Government also approved a set of measures to implement the Action Plan and authorized more than 35 governmental and non-governmental agencies to take part in these events.
According to the agreements reached with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in November 2017 an international conference titled “Central Asia: One Past and a Common Future, Cooperation for Sustainable Development and Mutual Prosperity” was organized in Samarkand under the auspices of the UN.
In this highly important event representatives of more than twenty countries, over ten major international organizations, ministers of foreign affairs of the Central Asian countries attended this conference. During this conference, the participants discussed further expansion of cooperation with CA countries.
In November 2018, Uzbekistan in conjunction with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Uzbekistan is planning to hold an international event, namely the Asian Forum on Human Rights in Samarkand commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Freedoms.
Apart from the international cooperation, Uzbekistan has genuinely pursued the solution of human rights issues independently using domestic tools. For instance, 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 have been carried out recently considered historical and “breakthrough” for Uzbekistan.
Acknowledging difficulties and barriers in setting direct dialogue with our citizens and listening to their demands and needs, in ensuring full transparency of state bodies’ activities, as well as in transitioning to open economy policy in the past, the Government subsequently started taking effective measures to improve the situation since the late 2016.
In 2017, an initiative of the 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:
1. Improvement of government regulation and public participation in politics;
2. Ensuring the Rule of law and reform of the judicial system;
3. Liberalization of the economy;
4. Strengthening the social protection; and
5. Open and friendly foreign policy, improving security, religious tolerance and inter-ethnic harmony.
Since the adoption of the Strategy Program, more than 800 laws and regulations were introduced in 2017.
The adoption of the Strategy Program means the recognition of the existence of the serious challenges and problems in the modern Uzbek society, which the state should deal with immediately. The new leadership of Uzbekistan made an important step by launching vast and historical reforms in the framework of the Program.
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 a new scheme to deal with their needs, 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 a part of a daily work of government authorities.
The special offices under 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 1,6 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, ensuring transparency of state bodies’ activities.
The UN Secretary General Antonio Guttereş visiting one of the special offices for filing complaints in Samarkand city highly assessed the newly introduced system for reviewing people’s appeals.
Mass media of Uzbekistan has also seen dramatic changes. The role of media and social network has increased to the extent that people’s trust 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 live broadcasted TV programs, talk shows started inviting high governmental officials, including mayors, ministers and the heads of the law enforcement bodies, who are engaging in discussing the major problems and issues.
Every day public discussions in TV channels on social and political processes covering the whole country, which are also becoming the generator of ideas, affecting the development of the country.
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, adopted a special law and an action plan on fighting against corruption.
As a result, only in 2017 the number of crimes related to corruption, compared to the same period of the of year of 2016 decreased by 33 percent.
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) 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) for hearing the cases of the state bodies.
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 a ten-year term and then a lifetime.
Fourth: the next sphere that has been reformed is the criminal investigation system. Presidential decree abolished the possibility to return criminal cases by courts for additional investigation if there was not enough evidence to convict the defendants, which of course was unfair. This measure resulted in the increase of the responsibility of the judicial and investigative authorities.
Let us look at the numbers. While in the last five years only 7 persons were acquitted, in 2017 courts issued 194 acquittals. In addition, preliminary investigative bodies have terminated 3511 criminal cases on rehabilitating grounds.
It was the first time in the Uzbekistan’s history, last year was issued a presidential decree to pardon 2,700 prisoners, according to which 956 people were released from prison and the remaining prisoner’s sentences cut.
Moreover, the law authorizes:
- prosecutors to inspect the legality of applying disciplinary punishment to convicts for violating the order of serving a sentence in the form of imprisonment;
- judges to apply alternative preventive measures when considering the prosecutor's application for placement in detention. So, the courts can apply a bail or house-arrest instead of custody.
The law now expressly prohibits using evidence obtained by illegal actions including torture, psychological and physical pressure, and other cruel and inhumane treatment against defendants and witnesses.
Starting from 2018, 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: Since December 2016, on the basis of seven presidential decrees, 835 persons without citizenship obtained a citizenship of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
It should be noted that for the period from 1991 to 2016 as a whole, only 482 persons without citizenship were granted an uzbek citizenship.
Moreover, Uzbekistan introduced a visa-free regime for 30 days from the date of entry into the country for citizens of seven countries and a simplified procedure for issuing tourist visas for citizens of 39 countries. At the same time, starting from 1 July 2018, a system of issuing electronic entry visas will be introduced.
In order to create free traveling regime for citizens, Uzbekistan intends to introduce personal identification cards (ID-cards) to replace passports. As well as, from 2019, Uzbekistan planned to introduce biometric passports for traveling abroad and to cancel the procedure for issuing an authorization sticker for traveling abroad. At the same time, the requirement to issue an authorization sticker for departure abroad, which will be issued for two years, will be canceled.
Sixth: in order to ensure the guarantees of constitutional rights of citizens, from April 1 the country is planning to abolish restrictions related to residence permit registration, in obtaining a passport, studying, employment and the implementation of other constitutional rights.
Until 2018, people from regions, who had no residence permit in Tashkent city, had limited right to buy real estate, work and study in the capital.
Seventh: We are strongly convinced that our main task for the coming years should be to transform Uzbekistan into the most favorable place for investors.
Over a short period of time, the country adopted 3 laws, more than 45 decrees, 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.
Eighth: the Uzbek Government started the liberalization of economy by improving fiscal, trade, tax, investment policy, that was much welcomed by international financial institutions, such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, EBRD, ADB.
One of the important steps in this sphere is the start of the full convertibility of national currency from 2017. Modernization of society and liberalization of economy have become an integral part of new Uzbek policy. Estimating these reforms, international experts argue that “Tashkent has been self-imposed isolationist and now are about opening up to their neighbors and to the world”.
Today the government of Uzbekistan is working with foreign consulting companies, investment banks and other international financial institutions for the sake of realizing vast economic and social reforms.
Ninth: over the past period in the sphere of foreign policy, we have achieved significant results in the development of friendly and mutually beneficial relations with foreign countries, primarily with neighboring countries.
In 2017, 21 high-level visits were held, meetings were held with leaders and representatives of more than 60 states and international organizations. As a result, more than 400 agreements have been concluded, and trade and investment contracts have been signed in total for almost 60 billion US dollars.
We have started to implement the principle “The main priority of Uzbekistan’s foreign policy is Central Asia”. As a result, an absolutely new political atmosphere has been created in our region, interrelations based on mutual trust and good-neighborliness are being strengthened.
Uzbekistan started developing cooperation with such international structures as the UN, the OIC, the SCO, the CIS at a new level. Cooperation with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has been restored, and partnerships have been established with European Investment Bank. The interaction with international financial institutions like WB, IMF, ADB, IDB are acquiring a dynamic character.
These positive changes in the country are increasing the attractiveness of Uzbekistan in the international arena.
Ten: 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 opportunities to the free market economy.
The adoption of this Concept is an important step towards building transparent, effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels and will result in enhancing the competitiveness of 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, as well as mutually beneficial cooperation between Uzbekistan and its regional and international partners.
So, although there are more reforms that have been implemented, these are in short what we have been through lately. There is still much work ahead.
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 all counties of the world. In the context of dramatic reforms in the country during their visit to Uzbekistan foreign experts observed that “today is a fantastic time to be engaged actively in Uzbekistan, the growing trade and economic potential and political stability in Uzbekistan allow room for realization of high-scale projects in the country”.
Thank you for your attention!