Hu­man Rights: Pol­icy Pri­or­ity

Uzbekistan Today (English) - - FRONT PAGE - Ak­mal Saidov, Di­rec­tor of the Na­tional Cen­ter for Hu­man Rights

In 2018, the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity cel­e­brates the 70th an­niver­sary of the Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Hu­man Rights and the 25th an­niver­sary of the Vi­enna Dec­la­ra­tion and the Hu­man Rights Ac­tion Plan, the doc­u­ments that con­sol­i­dated the ba­sic demo­cratic prin­ci­ples and re­quire­ments for se­cur­ing and pro­tect­ing hu­man rights and free­doms, and came to be the le­gal back­bone for the for­ma­tion of a mod­ern in­ter­na­tional law in this field.

The Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Hu­man Rights be­came the ba­sis for a wide range of legally bind­ing in­ter­na­tional treaties on this front. Its pro­vi­sions have formed the ba­sis for more than 100 in­ter­na­tional treaties and dec­la­ra­tions on hu­man rights, an enor­mous num­ber of re­gional con­ven­tions, con­sti­tu­tions and na­tional laws in the sphere. To­gether, they con­sti­tute a com­pre­hen­sive sys­tem of bind­ing le­gal norms de­signed to pro­mote and pro­tect hu­man rights.

In the con­tem­po­rary world, bol­ster­ing in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion in hu­man rights is greatly im­por­tant for the full achieve­ment of three goals of the United Na­tions. More­over, the pro­mo­tion and pro­tec­tion of hu­man rights should be based on the prin­ci­ple of co­op­er­a­tion and gen­uine di­a­logue with a view to en­hanc­ing the ca­pac­ity of states to ful­fill their hu­man rights obli­ga­tions in the in­ter­ests of all.

In Uzbek­istan, the pro­tec­tion of hu­man rights is con­sid­ered one of the pri­or­i­ties of in­ter­ac­tion with the UN. To­day, a sus­tain­able po­lit­i­cal sys­tem has been cre­ated in the coun­try that meets mod­ern cri­te­ria of democ­racy and hu­man rights, with ac­tively work­ing leg­isla­tive, ex­ec­u­tive and ju­di­cial bod­ies of all lev­els. Yet cru­cially, re­spect for the prin­ci­ples of the rule of law and hu­man rights is af­firmed in the Uzbek so­ci­ety.

Is­sues of ob­ser­vance and pro­tec­tion of hu­man rights are one of the pri­or­i­ties of gov­ern­ment pol­icy and of in­ter­ac­tion with in­ter­na­tional part­ners.

In 2017, our coun­try moved on to the most im­por­tant stage of its demo­cratic de­vel­op­ment, the phase of fur­ther­ing the re­forms in all as­pects of so­ci­ety. The pro­gram of car­di­nal po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion was adopted by the Pres­i­dent of Uzbek­istan in Fe­bru­ary 2017.

The Strat­egy of Ac­tions along Five Pri­or­ity Tracks for the De­vel­op­ment of the Repub­lic of Uzbek­istan in 2017-2021 thus opened a new chap­ter in demo­cratic re­forms and mod­ern­iza­tion of the coun­try, as well as in the im­prove­ment of the sys­tem of en­sur­ing in­di­vid­ual rights, free­doms and le­git­i­mate in­ter­ests.

The im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Strat­egy fo­cuses on the rad­i­cal re­form of state and pub­lic con­struc­tion aimed at fur­ther strength­en­ing the role of the par­lia­ment and po­lit­i­cal par­ties in deep­en­ing demo­cratic re­forms and mod­ern­iza­tion of the coun­try, en­hanc­ing the role of civil in­sti­tu­tions in pro­tect­ing hu­man rights, se­cur­ing the rule of law and trans­form­ing the ju­di­cial and le­gal sys­tem. These tasks are fully in sync with the prin­ci­ple “Hu­man in­ter­ests above every­thing”.

In 2017, the UN Sec­re­taryGen­eral An­tónio Guter­res and the UN High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights Zeid Ra’ad alHus­sein vis­ited Uzbek­istan.

In order to shore up con­struc­tive co­op­er­a­tion with the Of­fice of the United Na­tions High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights and in­ten­sify mea­sures to pro­tect the rights and free­doms of cit­i­zens, the Uzbek par­lia­ment adopted on 16 June 2017 an Ac­tion Plan for the Fur­ther De­vel­op­ment of Co­op­er­a­tion with the Of­fice of the United Na­tions High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights. It con­sists of more than 90 spe­cific events and 10 sec­tions, while over 30 pub­lic and non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions par­tic­i­pate in its im­ple­men­ta­tion.

For the first time in 15 years, the UN Spe­cial Rap­por­teur on the Free­dom of Re­li­gion or Belief, Ahmed Shahid, vis­ited Uzbek­istan. He got fa­mil­iar­ized on-site, first hand, with the work car­ried out in the coun­try in the sphere of en­sur­ing free­dom of re­li­gion and belief, as well as the pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence of the coun­try ac­cu­mu­lated in this di­rec­tion. As a re­sult of the visit, the Uzbek leg­is­la­ture adopted a roadmap to im­ple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions of the Spe­cial Rap­por­teur.

In July 2018, Uzbek­istan’s del­e­ga­tion at­tended the Min­is­te­rial Con­fer­ence on Free­dom of Re­li­gion, or­ga­nized by the US State Depart­ment. This week, the US Am­bas­sado­rat-large for Re­li­gious Free­dom, Sa­muel Brown­back, vis­ited our coun­try, dur­ing which the UzbekAmer­i­can roundtable dis­cus­sion on re­li­gious free­doms was held for the first time.

In 2018, del­e­ga­tions of Hu­man Rights Watch, Amnesty In­ter­na­tional, the Cot­ton Cam­paign, the Nor­we­gian Helsinki Com­mit­tee, met with a num­ber of gov­ern­men­tal bod­ies and non-gov­ern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions in Uzbek­istan to dis­cuss ar­eas of co­op­er­a­tion in the field of hu­man rights.

The en­dur­ing demo­cratic re­forms have fo­cused on the im­prove­ment of the sys­tem of na­tional hu­man rights in­sti­tu­tions. Cur­rently, Uzbek­istan runs a new ex­tra-ju­di­ciary mech­a­nism to pro­tect the rights of en­trepreneurs – the of­fice of the Busi­ness Om­buds­man, which fa­cil­i­tates the in­tro­duc­tion of new tools for ef­fec­tive di­a­logue be­tween busi­ness en­ti­ties and gov­ern­ment bod­ies, cre­at­ing thus ad­di­tional guar­an­tees for re­li­able pro­tec­tion of the rights and le­git­i­mate in­ter­ests of busi­nesses.

The res­o­lu­tion of the Pres­i­dent of Uzbek­istan “On Ad­di­tional Mea­sures to Strengthen Guar­an­tees of Cit­i­zens’ Rights and Free­doms in Foren­sic In­ves­ti­ga­tions”, signed 30 No­vem­ber 2017, came as an im­por­tant mile­stone in re­form­ing the ju­di­cial and le­gal sphere. In ac­cor­dance with this doc­u­ment, tor­ture, phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal pres­sure and other cruel, in­hu­man or de­grad­ing treat­ment are strictly pro­hib­ited in the coun­try with re­gard to the par­tic­i­pants of crim­i­nal process or their close rel­a­tives. In crim­i­nal cases, it is rig­or­ously for­bid­den to use any il­le­gal data, au­dio and video ma­te­ri­als in par­tic­u­lar, as ma­te­rial ev­i­dence.

In order to ef­fec­tively pro­vide for the rights and free­doms of cit­i­zens, and spear­head ad­di­tional mon­i­tor­ing of this ac­tiv­ity, a spe­cial in­ter­ro­ga­tion com­plex equipped with short­hand, video sur­veil­lance sys­tems, as well as au­dio and video record­ing of in­ves­tiga­tive ac­tions, has been cre­ated in the in­ter­nal af­fairs bod­ies.

These mea­sures will con­tribute to ad­dress­ing the prob­lems of strin­gent en­force­ment of the crim­i­nal pro­ce­dure norm en­sur­ing that ev­ery­one who com­mits crime will be justly pun­ished and no in­no­cent per­son will be brought to jus­tice. The steps shall also fa­cil­i­tate timely dis­clo­sure, com­plete, com­pre­hen­sive and im­par­tial in­ves­ti­ga­tion of crimes, un­con­di­tional ob­ser­vance of the pri­or­ity of rights, free­doms and le­git­i­mate in­ter­ests of cit­i­zens, re­spect for their honor and dig­nity in the con­duct of in­quiry and pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion, as well as other tasks un­der the law.

In ac­cor­dance with the Law “On the In­tro­duc­tion of Amend­ments and Ad­denda to Cer­tain Leg­isla­tive Acts of the Repub­lic of Uzbek­istan in Con­nec­tion with the Adop­tion of Mea­sures to Strengthen Guar­an­tees of Cit­i­zens’ Rights and Free­doms in Foren­sic In­ves­ti­ga­tions”, signed 4 April 2018, Ar­ti­cle 235 of the Crim­i­nal Code has been in­tro­duced changes, whose pro­vi­sions are now con­so­nant with Ar­ti­cle 1 of the UN Con­ven­tion Against Tor­ture, along with greater re­spon­si­bil­ity for their use and other in­hu­man or de­grad­ing treat­ment or pun­ish­ment.

The Con­cept of Im­prov­ing the Crim­i­nal and Crim­i­nal Pro­ce­dural Leg­is­la­tion of the Repub­lic of Uzbek­istan was ap­proved. The prin­ci­pal tracks and ob­jec­tives of per­fect­ing the crim­i­nal and crim­i­nal pro­ce­dural leg­is­la­tion in the coun­try con­sti­tute:

- uni­fi­ca­tion of the norms of crim­i­nal leg­is­la­tion;

- im­prove­ment of the sys­tem of crim­i­nal li­a­bil­ity and pun­ish­ment;

- pro­vi­sion for the ef­fec­tive and re­li­able pro­tec­tion of the rights and free­doms of cit­i­zens, and the in­ter­ests of so­ci­ety and the state;

- sys­tem­ati­za­tion and har­mo­niza­tion of the norms of the crim­i­nal pro­ce­dural leg­is­la­tion;

- per­fec­tion of mech­a­nisms for the re­li­able pro­vi­sion of guar­an­tees for in­di­vid­ual rights and free­doms in crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings;

- in­tro­duc­tion of new forms and pro­ce­dures of crim­i­nal process.

With a view to the grad­ual dig­i­ti­za­tion of the pro­ce­dure for the pro­duc­tion of crim­i­nal cases, the in­tro­duc­tion of a pi­lot project “Elec­tronic Crim­i­nal Law” is en­vis­aged. The end re­sult of ef­fec­tive im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Con­cept of Im­prov­ing the Crim­i­nal and Crim­i­nal Pro­ce­dural Leg­is­la­tion should be a full-fledged re­al­iza­tion of the prin­ci­ple “Rule of Law – Inevitibil­ity of Li­a­bil­ity”.

The 12 May 2018 de­cree of the Pres­i­dent of Uzbek­istan en­vi­sion­ing mea­sures to rad­i­cally raise the promi­nence of the in­sti­tu­tion of de­fense law and en­hance lawyers’ in­de­pen­dence, pro­vides for steps to fun­da­men­tally perk up this sys­tem, boost the qual­ity of pro­fes­sional le­gal as­sis­tance and the pres­tige of this oc­cu­pa­tion. In par­tic­u­lar, the de­fense lawyer has the right to take mea­sures on pre-trial set­tle­ment of dis­putes, rec­on­cil­i­a­tion of the par­ties, and also to act as an ar­bi­tra­tor, ex­cept for cases when he/she rep­re­sents one of the par­ties.

The pro­vi­sion of le­gal aid by de­fense lawyers is pro­vided on the ba­sis of a sep­a­rate li­cense for each cho­sen spe­cial­iza­tion. Ter­mi­na­tion of the lawyer’s ac­tions is car­ried out ex­clu­sively in court fol­low­ing an ap­peal from the Min­istry of Jus­tice on the ba­sis of the con­clu­sion of the High Qual­i­fi­ca­tion Com­mis­sion.

In ad­di­tion, vis­its by lawyers to their clients are pro­vided in a timely and un­hin­dered man­ner in spe­cial rooms that do not have au­dio and video sur­veil­lance de­vices, and with­out the pres­ence of unau­tho­rized per­sons, while the vis­i­bil­ity of the lawyer and the client must be en­sured, with the ex­cep­tion of hear­ing them by third par­ties. The lawyer also has the right to bring per­sonal com­puter, mo­bile and other com­mu­ni­ca­tion de­vices to the build­ing of courts to carry out his pro­fes­sional ac­tiv­i­ties, with the ex­cep­tion of closed trial ses­sions.

Lawyer in­quiries from state and other bod­ies as well as en­ter­prises, in­sti­tu­tions and other or­ga­ni­za­tions for the re­ceipt of ref­er­ence let­ters and other doc­u­ments or their copies nec­es­sary for the pro­vi­sion of qual­i­fied le­gal as­sis­tance must be ex­e­cuted within a pe­riod of not more than fif­teen days from the re­ceipt of the re­quest, with the ex­cep­tion of in­for­ma­tion con­tain­ing state se­crets or other se­cret pro­tected by law.

Drafts of nor­ma­tive and le­gal acts on is­sues re­lated to de­fense law and le­gal pro­ceed­ings are manda­tory sub­ject to agree­ment with the Cham­ber of Lawyers, and its chair­man is en­ti­tled to at­tend meet­ings of the Leg­isla­tive Cham­ber of the Oliy Ma­jlis to dis­cuss those bills and ex­press views on them.

In order to dras­ti­cally am­plify the role and sig­nif­i­cance of civil so­ci­ety in­sti­tu­tions in the com­pre­hen­sive and ac­cel­er­ated de­vel­op­ment of the coun­try, boost their in­ter­ac­tion with gov­ern­ment and ad­min­is­tra­tion bod­ies, and also the con­sis­tent im­ple­men­ta­tion of the tasks iden­ti­fied in the Ac­tions Strat­egy, the Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil on Civil So­ci­ety De­vel­op­ment was estab­lished un­der the Pres­i­dent of Uzbek­istan.

The Coun­cil con­sists of rep­re­sen­ta­tives of par­lia­ment, ex­ec­u­tive bod­ies, the aca­demic com­mu­nity and more than 30 non-gov­ern­men­tal non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions.

All draft nor­ma­tive le­gal acts af­fect­ing the rights and le­git­i­mate in­ter­ests of NGOs are nec­es­sar­ily agreed with the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Non-Gov­ern­men­tal Non-Profit Or­ga­ni­za­tions of Uzbek­istan.

Cur­rently, pub­lic foun­da­tions are be­ing estab­lished to sup­port NGOs and other civil so­ci­ety in­sti­tu­tions un­der the Zhokargy Kenes of the Repub­lic of Karakalpak­stan, the Ken­gashes of Peo­ple’s Deputies in the re­gions and the city of Tashkent, and also, Houses of Non-Gov­ern­men­tal Non-Profit Or­ga­ni­za­tions are set up in the field.

Uzbek­istan main­tains ac­tive and con­struc­tive di­a­logue with the statu­tory and treaty bod­ies and spe­cial­ized agen­cies of the United Na­tions and spe­cial pro­ce­dures of the UN Hu­man Rights Coun­cil.

The gov­ern­ment sub­mits timely re­ports on the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the main in­ter­na­tional hu­man rights in­stru­ments, as well as on fol­low-up to the rec­om­men­da­tions of the treaty bod­ies.

Over the years of in­de­pen­dence, more than 35 na­tional re­ports of Uzbek­istan have been sub­mit­ted to the UN treaty bod­ies. Dur­ing the cur­rent ses­sion of the UN Hu­man Rights Coun­cil, the re­sults of the con­sid­er­a­tion of the Third Pe­ri­odic Re­port of our coun­try in the frame­work of the Uni­ver­sal Pe­ri­odic Re­view (UPR) were ap­proved.

The Hu­man Rights Coun­cil rec­om­men­da­tions will be con­sid­ered in par­lia­ment and a Na­tional Ac­tion Plan (roadmap) is adopted for their im­ple­men­ta­tion in the frame­work of the Uni­ver­sal Pe­ri­odic Re­port of the Hu­man Rights Coun­cil.

The Me­moran­dum on Co­op­er­a­tion in Hu­man Rights be­tween the UNDP and Uzbek­istan is be­ing suc­cess­fully re­al­ized. The doc­u­ment en­vis­ages in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion of in­ter­ac­tion in such ar­eas as joint con­sul­ta­tions, mu­tual as­sis­tance in the de­vel­op­ment and im­ple­men­ta­tion of pro­grams and plans aimed at pro­tect­ing and pro­mot­ing hu­man rights and free­doms.

Work has be­gun on the re­al­iza­tion of the joint UNDP project de­signed to pro­mote the im­ple­men­ta­tion of rec­om­men­da­tions of UN char­ter and treaty bod­ies on hu­man rights in the Repub­lic of Uzbek­istan. Prepara­tory works for the Asian Hu­man Rights Fo­rum are in full swing un­der this scheme in tan­dem with the Re­gional Of­fice of the United Na­tions High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights in Bishkek.

In con­clu­sion, I would like to share fol­low­ing pro­pos­als in the field of the pro­tec­tion of hu­man rights and free­doms.

First. There are cur­rently 1.8 bil­lion young men and women in the world, which is a record in­di­ca­tor of the num­ber of young peo­ple in hu­man his­tory. Such a de­mo­graphic sit­u­a­tion of­fers un­prece­dented op­por­tu­ni­ties for so­cial and eco­nomic progress. At the same time, the po­ten­tial of many youth rep­re­sen­ta­tives is un­der­mined by vi­o­la­tions of their fun­da­men­tal rights. On the global scale, young peo­ple are three times more likely to be­come un­em­ployed than adults, which means that about 71 mil­lion young men and women are look­ing for work.

Dur­ing the 72nd ses­sion of the UN Gen­eral Assem­bly, Pres­i­dent Shavkat Mirziy­oyev pro­posed to de­velop a UN In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion on the Rights of the Youth, a uni­fied in­ter­na­tional le­gal in­stru­ment aimed at the for­ma­tion and im­ple­men­ta­tion of youth pol­icy in the con­text of glob­al­iza­tion and the rapid de­vel­op­ment of in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies.

In this re­gard, we pro­pose to sup­port the elab­o­ra­tion of this uni­ver­sal in­ter­na­tional doc­u­ment on the rights of young peo­ple.

Sec­ond. For the cel­e­bra­tion of the 70th an­niver­sary of the Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Hu­man Rights, a spe­cial pro­gram of events was adopted in Uzbek­istan. In ad­di­tion, our coun­try has or­dered a con­tri­bu­tion of $ 100 thou­sand to the vol­un­tary fund of UNHCHR.

On 22-23 No­vem­ber 2018, we are or­ga­niz­ing, to­gether with UNHCHR and other in­ter­na­tional part­ners, the Asian Hu­man Rights Fo­rum in Sa­markand ded­i­cated to the 70th an­niver­sary of the Uni­ver­sal Dec­la­ra­tion of Hu­man Rights.

This fo­rum will aim to de­velop prac­ti­cal rec­om­men­da­tions for im­prov­ing the ex­ist­ing mech­a­nisms on the pro­tec­tion of hu­man rights and the es­tab­lish­ment of novel ones, as well as for se­cur­ing their in­ter­ac­tion, iden­ti­fy­ing the ways of cre­at­ing pos­si­ble sub-re­gional mech­a­nisms on the pro­tec­tion of hu­man rights, which will prove ac­ces­si­ble to ev­ery­one.

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