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New reforms in the judicial and legal system of Uzbekistan are aimed at practical results

New reforms in the judicial and legal system of Uzbekistan are aimed at practical results

The main goal of state policy in the penal sphere in Uzbekistan is aimed at liberalizing punishment and the system of its execution. Based on this, a number of strategic objectives have been identified. In particular:

Firstly, crime, improvement and liberalization of criminal and criminal-procedural legislation, decriminalization of specific criminal acts, humanization of criminal punishments and the procedure for their execution were determined as one of the priority directions for improving the state and society building system in the Action Strategy of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 2017-2021.

Secondly, the Resolution of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On the Concept of improvement of criminal and criminal-procedural legislation” was adopted on May 14, 2018. It was aimed at improving the criminal responsibility and punishment system, in particular, eliminating forms and types of punishments that do not meet to modern requirements, and preventing crimes. The task of introducing types of punishment and other legal measures, simplifying punishment or expanding the norms regulating the conditions of criminal responsibility or exemption of person from liability was established.

Thirdly, the implementation of qualitatively new mechanisms for ensuring the unconditional observance of the rights of prisoners, respect for their honor and dignity, priority tasks such as further expansion of the scope of rights of convicts in accordance with generally recognized international standards were determined in the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated on November 7, 2018 “On measures to radically improve the criminal and executive legislation”.

Fourthly, the necessity to ensure labor, social security and other internationally recognized rights of convicts, people who have served their sentences, to introduce effective mechanisms to help their social adaptation and reintegration into society, and widely introducing the principle of humanitarianism into the penal system was noted as the essential and necessary condition for the development of the law priority principles in the Development Strategy of New Uzbekistan in 2022-2026;

Fifthly, the task of reducing the practice of imprisonment from 30% to 20% was strengthened as the main criterion for reforms in the judicial system in the strategy “Uzbekistan – 2030”.

Sixthly, new version of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan was adopted pursuant to the Referendum on April 30, 2023, in which human rights and freedoms are guaranteed based on the universally recognized norms of international law, as well as the prohibition of the death penalty.

Meanwhile, 3 laws, 2 decrees and 7 resolutions of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, more than 20 resolution and decrees of the government, more than 15 departmental and interdepartmental regulatory legal documents aimed at further improving the system of execution of punishment for the implementation of these strategic goals were accepted.

As a result, the range of rights and legal interests of the prisoners were expanded and brought into line with international standards.

It is worth noting that at the initiative of the President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the work on ensuring the rights and freedoms of prisoners serving sentences in penitentiary institutions has reached a completely new level.

In particular, based on the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated on April 2, 2021, “On additional organizational measures to further improve the activities of internal affairs bodies in the field of ensuring public safety and fighting crime”, the followings were determined:

to increase the effectiveness of educational work on the moral correction in order to prevent re-offending, to improve the system of execution of punishment, to ensure the protection of the rights, freedoms and legal interests of prisoners;

to ensure the priority importance of honor and dignity of prisoners, to introduce transparent and more effective legal mechanisms of moral education and labor training for social adaptation of convicts to society in the future;

to radically improve the criminal-executive legislation, taking into account modern international standards and advanced foreign experience;

to ensure strict discipline and legality in penitentiary institutions and investigative detention centers, to prevent corruption, and fully automate the processes of monitoring the condition of prisoners;

to create opportunity to purchase items in the prescribed manner by prisoners in penitentiary institutions, and their relatives as well, through electronic stores based on free market mechanisms;

to maintain the electronic database of information about the behavior and personality of each prisoner and fully digitize the process of distribution of prisoners in order to correctly determine the tactics of re-educating prisoners and prevent them from committing crime.

A number of practical results have been achieved as a result of the comprehensive reforms implemented in the field of criminal punishment.

Particularly:

Firstly, the restrictions on the visits of juvenile prisoners with their parents were removed, and female prisoners were given the right to visit their children in orphanages on unlimited basis.

Secondly, special attention was paid to the education and vocational training of prisoners, and the activity of "Master-Apprentice" schools was launched in penitentiary institutions.

In fact, there are 6 general educational schools and 4 vocational centers operating in the penitentiary institutions at present. More than 2,000 convicts are trained in such schools, and more than 5,000 in the vocational centers are trained in tailoring, carpentry, furniture making, auto electrician, electrician, locksmith and other professions, and they are given certificates in 16 specialties in total.

Thirdly, according to the law “On Education"” the right to distance education was given to prisoners in penitentiary institutions.

Henceforth, the dream of the prisoners who want to get higher education was fulfilled. 25 prisoners were admitted to the prestigious national higher educational institutions, as well as branches of international higher education institutions in our country in 2021-2023.

Fourthly, special attention was paid to the social welfare of prisoners, and the right to pension was guaranteed (as of January 1, 2024, pensions were granted to 676 prisoners) and it was determined that social insurance would not be deducted from wages. The number of phone calls, visits and meetings of the prisoners has almost doubled.

Fifthly, in the direction of expanding the political rights of prisoners, the requirements of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as the positive experiences of France, Germany, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Turkey, are implemented into national legislation, and the right to vote was given for the first time for prisoners who are serving sentences for crimes of low social risk and less serious crimes.

On this basis, 3,619 prisoners in the 2019 Parliamentary elections, 8,203 prisoners in the 2021 Presidential elections, and 9,738 prisoners in the 2023 referendum exercised their political right to vote.

Sixthly, the procedure for the visit of the Representative of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Human Rights (Ombudsman), diplomatic corps, representatives of international, republican and local non-governmental non-profit organizations, foreign and local mass media to prisons was established.

Seventhly, With the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On the Development Strategy of New Uzbekistan in 2022-2026”, a system of providing “initial socio-material support package” was introduced to help citizens who have served their sentences to find their place in society in the future.

Eighthly, in order to allow and support the convicts who realized the mistake of their actions, sincerely repented and resolutely chose to the path of recovery, the mechanism of “pardon” was established by the head of our state which is considered clear example of forgiveness and nobility of our nation.

In particular, in 2017-2024, a total of 7128 convicts were pardoned by the relevant decrees of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, 219 of them were foreign citizens and 377 were women.

Ninthly, according to the relevant decree of the government, certain information in prisons that cannot be disclosed until now, including:

the number of persons detained in penitentiary institutions and investigative detention centers;

the number of penitentiary institutions and investigative detention centers and their locations;

the production activities of penitentiary institutions, the goods produced by them according to the nomenclature and expressed in money;

the number of deaths among persons detained in penitentiary institutions and pretrial detention centers;

information on the number of prisoners kept in penitentiary institutions and subjected to coercive medical measures was disclosed.

Admittedly, in addition to the norms of international law, the United States, the countries of the European Union, Russian Federation, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Kyrgyz Republic and a number of positive experiences of other countries were taken into account in the improvement of criminal law and the mechanisms of its practical implementation, as well as in the expansion of the basic rights and freedoms of prisoners.

In addition, the provisions of the international legal norms related to the system of execution of punishment were introduced into the criminal law. In particular, the “Minimum standard rules for dealing with prisoners” (Nelson Mandela Rules), adopted by the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly on December 17, 2015, was applied to the criminal law of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

Hence, respect for the dignity of prisoners was guaranteed, mechanisms aimed at preventing the use of torture and cruel treatment were improved. Furthermore:

the right of prisoners to receive psychological assistance was enabled;

prisoners in need of medical care were allowed to be placed in regional institutions of the Ministry of Health;

prisoners suffering from a serious illness were given the opportunity to talk over the phone and meet their close relatives based on the doctor’s permission.

At the same time, the application of disciplinary punishment was completely canceled for the disorder in case of his mental state was disturbed.

Based on the abovementioned facts, as well as on the basis of the norms of international law and the positive experiences of foreign countries, it is expedient to implement the following proposals and recommendations in the practice of law enforcement in order to improve the criminal law of the Republic of Uzbekistan:

Further expansion of the basic rights of prisoners, in particular, the use of computer tools connected to the Internet (educational, artistic, electronic books, publications, educational materials, graphic designs) connected to the global information network in specially equipped rooms, the introduction of a simplified procedure for the use of electronic state services, including notary services;

education of convicts, acquisition of profession and wide involvement of them in useful work;

raising the legal consciousness and culture, ideological views of prisoners, defining systematic measures aimed at forming immunity of intolerance to violations to them;

determining the acceptable directions of exemption from punishment in legislation;

implementation of modern forms of social adaptation and resocialization of prisoners based on the analysis of international law norms and best practices of foreign countries.

At the same time, further liberalizing crimes and criminal law, especially by expanding non-custodial sentences for juveniles, women, the elderly, and prisoners with disabilities, is the best way to improve the most effective national crime-fighting system today.

In short, improving the law enforcement practice and legislation in the judicial executive system, and consistently continuing the ongoing reforms are aimed at building democratic legal state and fair civil society in our country, strengthening the guarantees of human rights protection, and ensuring the rule of law in society.

 

Khatamov Rustam

Head of the Academy of the Ministry of internal affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Doctor of philosophy in law sciences (PhD), Associate professor, Colonel

📅 01.07.2024

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