In the recent years, Uzbekistan took major steps in reforming its human rights legislation. It achieved the abolition of the death penalty and its guarantee of habeas corpus. However, a number of critical issues still exist in the country, such as independence of its judiciary, the use of torture by various security forces and despite law prohibition – child labor.
The Human Rights Committee, the 18-member expert body which monitors global implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, met on March 12, 2010, to continue its consideration of the third periodic report of Uzbekistan.
The tone of the discussion was very heated; however, the dialog still remained respectful, by the request of several experts. Committee Chairman Yuji Iwasawa, expert from Japan, said the Uzbek delegation might not agree with what was being said, but it could, through constructive dialogue, get a sense of what measures could be taken to improve its human rights situation.
Hot topics of human rights were discussed. Nigel Rodley, expert from the United Kingdom, pointed to gaps in prohibiting torture in Uzbekistan, suggesting the absence of an authoritative international definition of torture was an insufficient reason for ignoring those gaps.
Several experts expressed concerns about the independence of various mechanisms that the delegation highlighted as central to reform efforts, including its Human Rights Ombudsman and the judiciary. Hellen Keller, expert from Switzerland, said the Committee had received information that many judicial posts were “stuffed” by acquaintances of high Government officials. It also appeared that the Ministry of Justice had a hand in most aspects of legal professional matters in the country.
Abdelfattah Amor, expert from Tunisia, wondered if the State was taking any steps to help change people’s mindsets, concerning the issue of polygamy. Michael O’Flaherty, expert from Ireland, expressed hope regarding the freedom of expression and same-sex couples. Also issues on Islam, terrorism and “extremism” were discussed.
Mr. Akmal Saidov, Director of the National Human Rights Centre, with representatives from different government structures, responded to every raised question on the meeting. Answers were very qualified by the appropriate articles in the Criminal Code and Uzbek national legislation.
Civil society is a crucial pillar in protecting human rights in all countries. As it turned out, the human rights defenders face a hard time in Uzbekistan.
The Uzbek delegation noted in their closing remarks that an action plan would be elaborated, a dialog at home would be undertaken and recommendation used to its intended purpose.
Source: Relief Web,