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Uzbekistan: UN rights expert in first visit to assess independence of justice system

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GENEVA (18 September 2019) – UN Special Rapporteur Diego García-Sayán will carry out an official visit to Uzbekistan from 19 to 25 September 2019 to assess measures adopted by the Government to ensure the independence of judges and prosecutors and the free exercise of the legal profession.

Since President Mirziyoyev took office in September 2016, Uzbekistan has embarked on far-reaching reforms of the justice system.

"During my visit, I intend to establish a constructive dialogue with the Government on the judicial reforms to assess their consistency with international human rights standards, such as the independence of the judiciary and the principle of separation of powers," García-Sayán said.

"Within the justice system, judges, prosecutors and lawyers must be able to carry out their professional activities freely and must be protected, in law and in practice, from any threat, interference or pressure in the exercise of their duties."

Judicial councils play an essential role in guaranteeing the independence and the autonomy of the judiciary. "I welcome the creation of the Supreme Judicial Council in 2017 as an independent body with a broad mandate to promote and protect judicial independence, and would like to offer practical recommendations on how to strengthen this body, which is responsible for the selection, appointment, training and discipline of judges.

"I also intend to assess the legal guarantees in place to ensure the independent functioning of the legal profession and, in particular, the independence of the Bar Association from Government and other executive bodies," said García-Sayán, who has already devoted a thematic report to the vital role that bar associations play in the organisation and safeguarding of the independence and integrity of the legal profession and its members.

During his visit, the UN expert will meet Government officials and legislative authorities, as well as judges, prosecutors and lawyers. He will also have meetings with representatives of civil society, academics, UN agencies, donors and the diplomatic community.

At the end of the visit on Wednesday 25 September 2019, García-Sayán will hold a press conference to present his preliminary observations. It will be held at 10:15 local time at the International Press Club of Uzbekistan (Toshkent shahar, Shayxontohur tumani, Olmazor ko'chasi, 2-uy).

The Special Rapporteur will present a comprehensive report containing his findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in June 2020.

ENDS

Mr. Diego García-Sayán took up his functions as UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers in December 2016. He was formerly a judge of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights for two consecutive terms. During his tenure, he was elected Vice-President of the Court (2008-2009) and President of the Court for two consecutive terms (2009-2013). He has long-standing experience working on human rights issues in a variety of settings, including for the United Nations and the Organization of American States. Among others, he was: Representative of the UN Secretary-General for the Peace Agreements at El Salvador and for the subsequent verification of the agreements reporting directly to the Security Council; member and Chairperson of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances during several years; member of the Redesign Panel on the United Nations System of Administration of Justice, appointed by the UN Secretary-General in 2006; Head of the Electoral Mission of the Organisation of American States (OAs) in Guatemala during the general elections (2007).

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council's independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, country page — Uzbekistan

For more information and media requests, please contact:
In Tashkent (during the visit): Mr. Stefano Sensi (email: ssensi@ohchr.org)
In Geneva (before, during or after the visit): Mr. Gotzon Onandia (gonandia@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact: Mr. Jeremy Laurence (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org)

Follow news related to the UN's independent human rights experts on Twitter @UN_SPExperts.

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