The Committee on the Rights of the Child today concluded its consideration of the fifth periodic report of Uzbekistan under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Committee Experts commended the State on its will to promote children’s rights, and asked questions on the lack of social benefits and on juvenile justice
Velina Todorova, Vice Chair and Committee Taskforce Coordinator for Uzbekistan, commended the ambition of Uzbekistan to embed children’s rights in the Constitution, wishing them luck with this endeavour. Sopio Kiladze, Committee Expert and Taskforce Member, thanked members of the delegation for their willingness to promote child rights and make reforms.
Ms. Todorova said it was understood that the share of benefits in the total social budget was very low – below zero per cent. Why was this so low? If families faced a situation of crisis which affected the child, this presented a further issue.
A Committee Expert asked about specialisation of the juvenile justice system. This was needed, even though the number of children involved in crimes was small.
Akmal Saidov, Director of the National Human Rights Centre and First Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan, and head of the delegation, in presenting the report, said material benefits were provided for children belonging to impoverished or low-income families, while pensions and benefits had increased for persons with disabilities and persons with health issues, as well as families who had lost their providers.
The delegation said there were no juvenile courts, as according to statistics, only 2.5 per cent of all crimes were committed by minors, meaning there was no need to create specific courts. Courts were able to hear from minors and schools for judges devoted courses relating to juvenile justice. The topic of juvenile justice was very important, and this would be a priority for the State over the next five years.
Mr. Saidov said Uzbekistan had implemented all legislative recommendations of the Committee and established a minimum age for marriage. Uzbekistan had established a Children’s Ombudsman’s office in 2020 and a special commission had been created in parliament to monitor the implementation of Uzbekistan’s international commitments to human rights. Uzbekistan prioritised the return of children from conflict zones. During the five “kindness” missions which had been arranged, over 530 women and children had been brought back to Uzbekistan and been integrated back into society.
In concluding remarks, Ms. Todorova expressed gratitude to the State for the dialogue and for presenting the report in a timely manner. It was hoped that the concluding observations would assist the Government to speed up the reforms regarding the implementation of the Convention, to allow all children to enjoy their rights.
Mr. Saidov thanked the Committee for the constructive and professional dialogue. All bodies would have access to the recommendations of the Committee, and a national action plan encompassing these recommendations would be prepared.
The delegation of Uzbekistan consisted of representatives of the Ministry of Health; the Ministry of Internal Affairs; the Ministry of Public Education; the National Human Rights Centre; the Supreme Court; the State Committee of Uzbekistan for Family and Women; and the Permanent Mission of Uzbekistan to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
Summaries of the public meetings of the Committee can be found here, while webcasts of the public meetings can be found here. The programme of work of the Committee’s ninety-first session and other documents related to the session can be found here.
The Committee will next meet in public at 3 p.m. this afternoon to consider the initial report of South Sudan (CRC/C/SSD/1).
The Committee has before it the fifth periodic report of Uzbekistan (CRC/C/UZB/5).
Presentation of Report
AKMAL SAIDOV, Director of the National Human Rights Centre and First Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan, and head of the delegation, said 24 recommendations of the 45 which had been provided by the Committee at the last review had been fully implemented and the rest were in the process of implementation, except for one concerning the third Optional Protocol to the Convention. Uzbekistan had implemented all legislative recommendations of the Committee and established a minimum age for marriage. Earlier this year, as part of a broad discussion of the constitutional reforms, the National Human Rights Centre of Uzbekistan, together with the United Nations Children's Fund, held a round table discussion, which heard from an international expert. The draft Constitutional Law mentioned children’s rights, including the protection of the family and children. Uzbekistan always tried to reflect the best interests of the child in its laws. Uzbekistan had established a children’s Ombudsman’s office in 2020 and a special commission had been created in parliament to monitor the implementation of Uzbekistan’s international commitments to human rights.
The 2030 Sustainable Development Goals ensured the well-being of children. At a high-level political forum under the auspices of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, Uzbekistan had presented its first voluntary national review on progress in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, and a parliamentary commission was established to monitor the implementation of these objectives. Eleven friendship houses and non-governmental organization centres had been created in Uzbekistan to handle the coordination and monitoring of the provisions of the Convention.
Uzbekistan prioritised the return of children from conflict zones. During the five “kindness” missions which had been arranged, over 530 women and children had been brought back to Uzbekistan and been integrated back into society. Uzbekistan’s unique experience had been appreciated by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism, who met with women and children returning from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Uzbekistan’s experience in the social reintegration of persons who had returned from places of armed conflict was worth noting.
Uzbekistan would continue to cooperate with the Committee. While a lot had been done, there were still gaps which the State wanted to discuss with the Committee. There were issues of a social nature, economic issues, and geopolitical issues. There had also been difficulties linked to the pandemic, with children, women and persons with disabilities the most impacted by lockdowns. A programme was currently in place to reduce poverty. Statistics were another difficulty; there was not enough data and the State was undergoing a reform of statistics, which were being reorganised in line with contemporary needs. Uzbekistan would be grateful for any information the Committee could provide regarding statistics and would be grateful for support for criteria determining the best interests of children. Mr. Saidov thanked the Committee Experts for their willingness to engage in an open, constructive, and interactive dialogue.
Questions by Committee Experts
VELINA TODOROVA, Vice Chair and Committee Taskforce Coordinator for Uzbekistan, asked if the bill on the social protection of children had become a law? Ms. Todorova commended the ambition of Uzbekistan to embed children’s rights in the Constitution, wishing them luck with this endeavour. What were the reasons for the delay in the ratification of the third Optional Protocol? The Committee was concerned about the implementation of legislation which had been adopted, and these barriers would be discussed throughout the session. Implementation needed a major public awareness raising campaign and political commitment. Could more clarity be provided on how the strategies around children were synchronised with the national action plan of Uzbekistan? The establishment of the National Commission of Children’s Rights was commended; did this Commission have permanent staff? Was this Commission involved in the process of deinstitutionalisation? Did the Commission have policy-making functions?
Ms. Todorova commended the State on the excellent efforts to combat the pandemic, including benefits for parents, online learning, and health care. The Committee was concerned about the lack of budget for social services. Could more information be provided about corruption and the delivery of social services which affected the rights of children? Could more information about the mandate of the Children’s Ombudsman be provided? How independent would this Ombudsman be? The Committee appreciated the adoption of the Statistics Act and appreciated the reforms in this area. The collection and analysis of data for sensitive issues such as violence against children, violence in the families, and street children was extremely important to the Committee, and this should be seen in the next reporting circle.
It was concerning that the Government did not have a strategy to create a deeper understanding of children’s rights. The school curriculum did not include any modules on the rights of the child; were there plans to rectify this? Were there plans to train teachers, judges, and other professionals in this area? The opportunity to create a non-governmental organization was a human right, and the Committee was not convinced this right was respected in Uzbekistan. Could more information about this be provided? For example, parents of children with disabilities were not able to create an organization to support their children. It was understood that Uzbekistan was facing a lot of problems due to the inherited environmental disaster in certain areas, which was causing water shortages. Could the delegation explain what the Government was doing to mitigate the impact of environmental harm on children’s rights?
GEHAD MADI, Committee Expert and Taskforce Member, noted that exceptions were still in place for marriage to take place for those under the age of 18 years. What measures were in place to remove such exceptions? Did the Government intend to remove the fees for birth registration and issuing a birth certificate? What steps were being taken to ratify the conventions relating to stateless persons, and on the reduction of statelessness? What measures were being taken for the adoptive child to be able to know his or her biological parents? What legislation was being developed to protect the privacy of children in the digital environment? What was being done to establish Internet connectivity for children in remote areas? What measures were being taken by the Government to establish a peaceful co-existence among different religions, including those not officially recognised?
BENOIT VAN KEIRSBILCK, Committee Expert and Taskforce Member, said that progress had been achieved in legislation, aimed at combatting discrimination. What was the State doing to ensure the implementation of those principles, especially those which related to public awareness campaigns aimed at eliminating discrimination? As part of the reform of the law relating to the Family Code, which now included the best interest of the child, what type of training and support was being provided to different groups of the population, including judges and lawyers, to ensure this evaluation could best be carried out? The rights of children were seriously affected by the pandemic. What support was being given to children to allow them to exercise their right to participation? There was not much space for children to actively participate and ensure their opinions were duly taken into consideration.
SOPIO KILADZE, Committee Expert and Taskforce Member, thanked members of the delegation for their willingness to promote child rights and make reforms. According to reports, allegations of torture were not duly or independently investigated, and this could be relevant to children. Could the delegation comment on this? What access did children have to child-friendly complaints mechanisms? Had any assessments of juvenile prisons been carried out? Did Uzbekistan undertake measures to assess the causes of violence against children? Was there a strategy to address all problems in this regard? Was Uzbekistan going to ban corporal punishment, and what steps were being taken to promote positive upbringing among parents? What training was provided to teachers and social workers to identify cases of violence against children, and to report them accordingly? Was there a hotline which enabled children to report abuse carried out against them? Was there a legislative framework on working with children who were victims of crimes? Were professionals trained appropriately in this area? What measures were being taken to educate society on the harmful consequences of child marriage?
Responses by the Delegation
AKMAL SAIDOV, Director of the National Human Rights Centre and First Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan, and head of the delegation, said the Government of Uzbekistan was making great efforts to implement the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Material benefits were provided for children belonging to impoverished or low-income families, while pensions and benefits had increased for persons with disabilities and persons with health issues, as well as families who had lost their providers. The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities had been ratified. A law enshrined that social workers were provided with systematic preparation in dealing with children. It was true that the training of social workers, lawyers, prosecutors and others in dealing with children had been limited; however, they now received specialised training in this regard. Uzbekistan had ratified the first Optional Protocol to the Convention. An information campaign had been launched regarding the ratification of the third Optional Protocol, but it could not be predicted when this would take place. Mr. Saidov agreed with the Committee regarding statistics. The criteria of disaggregated data were very important.
The delegation said that courts usually referred to national legislation, which reflected the norms of the Convention. Uzbekistan took measures to prevent crimes, including rape and forced sexual acts, committed against those under the age of 18. Article 235 on torture was not invoked in cases concerning minors. Uzbekistan had acceded to the Convention against torture. Mr. Saidov did not agree that the Government did not have a comprehensive understanding on the rights of the child. Over the past four years, Uzbekistan had eliminated child labour. Provisions were being included in the draft Constitution, prohibiting child labour in the State, and Uzbekistan had ratified the International Labour Organization Convention on the worst forms of child labour.
Education was being carried out in seven languages in the schools of Uzbekistan, and 96 per cent of schools in the country had optic-fibre Internet connections. More than 14,000 psychologists were operating throughout the country, with up to two or three professionals working at each school in Uzbekistan. More than 2,000 psychologists had been hired by the Minister of the Interior, and were working on preventative issues for children. The Government had worked with the United Nations Children’s Fund to train 700 professionals to work with victims of violence. The National Commission of Children’s Rights had a broad scope. The main goal of the Commission was ensuring the rights, goals, and freedoms of children, and providing support to protect children and to monitor the efficiency of the measures taken to protect children. In 2020, the position of a Children’s Ombudsman was created, which was a deputy position to the parliamentary Ombudsman.
There were 14 centres throughout the country, with over 18,000 minors registered to these centres. These centres carried out support work and children were placed in specialised education centres with ongoing follow-up ensured. Children in these centres received medical treatment free of charge. To identify cases of violence against children, 2,000 inspectors and psychologists were hired at schools across the country; and 50,000 nurses throughout the State had been trained to recognised cases of physical violence against children. A national preventative mechanism had been established in Uzbekistan in the form of the Ombudsman Plus. This model involved the Ombudsman’s office and other human rights institutions. The Ombudsman and the Children’s Ombudsman conducted visits to prisons and to the children’s colony for minors. The genders were separated and girls were kept next to women due to the low number of girls who committed crimes; 293 boys and six girls were currently imprisoned for crimes in Uzbekistan.
Uzbekistan was undergoing extreme difficulties due to climate change and was within a disaster zone. This was a global problem, and the President of Uzbekistan had addressed the United Nations General Assembly on this issue, resulting in the adoption of two resolutions. Uzbekistan believed it was of paramount importance to adopt a universal environmental charter. The pandemic had also highlighted vulnerabilities and the need for a universal code on pandemics.
Around 484 minors were currently in prison in Uzbekistan, accounting for 13 per cent of all convictions. State protection and legal assistance was provided to minors undergoing court proceedings. Solitary confinement had not been used as a punishment for minors in prison since 2015. The juvenile reform building had been visited by deputies, the Ombudsman, and other committees, multiple times. In 2021, Uzbekistan adopted two new laws on persons with disabilities. Children with disabilities studying in specialised schools could now continue their education in the Braille language. The State had taken full responsibility for the treatment and rehabilitation of children with disabilities. There was a lot to learn about how civil society functioned, and the partnership with State authorities. Following the decree issued by the President, a fund was created which supported children with spinal problems and their families.
The main objective of birth registration was the protection of the Constitutional rights of citizens. Every child needed to be registered in local offices where they were born, or where their parents lived. One hundred per cent of children were born in maternity wards in Uzbekistan and were then included in the electronic birth registration database. Shortly after the birth, all the child’s information was automatically sent to the electronic archive of medical authorities in the area. The information would be reviewed, and the child would then receive a birth certificate free of charge.
The delegation said there was much to be done regarding children with disabilities and their integration into society. Since 2021, inclusive classes were organised in over 30 schools, where 82 children with disabilities studied together with children without disabilities. There would be 195 classes taking place this year, which would see over 800 students with disabilities incorporated into this programme.
AKMAL SAIDOV, Director of the National Human Rights Centre and First Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan, and head of the delegation, said the marriage age was 18 years, however, there were times when an exemption could be granted. This included pregnancy or the birth of a child; however, this happened rarely. Uzbekistan had made the decision to provide more than 70,000 stateless persons with citizenship. A code was currently being prepared for non-governmental organizations to allow for a streamlined, digital registration process with less tariffs.
Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert congratulated Uzbekistan on the progress made. Could the Ombudsman for children receive complaints from children? Was confidentiality ensured? Could children meet with the Ombudsman? Was the decision around marriage at the age of 17 decided by a court? Was education in seven languages conducted at all levels?
VELINA TODOROVA, Vice Chair and Committee Taskforce Coordinator for Uzbekistan, asked the delegation to read certain articles in response to the list of issues, to prepare for the dialogue tomorrow.
SOPIO KILADZE, Committee Expert and Taskforce Member, understood that the State was preparing the draft of the Constitution prohibiting forced labour; was this also prohibited at the legal level? Were the centres discussed by the delegation referring to centres for children who were victims?
GEHAD MADI, Committee Expert and Taskforce Member, said it was understood that if a girl was pregnant at the age of 17, the exception to the age of marriage would work. What would be done if a girl at the ages of 16,15,14 and 13 got pregnant? It was expected that she should be allowed to receive an abortion. If this was the case, why would a girl at the age of 17 not be allowed an abortion, and the age of marriage made strictly at 18?
BENOIT VAN KEIRSBILCK, Committee Expert and Taskforce Member, asked if the third Optional Protocol would be ratified. What were the exact obstacles for its ratification? Information had been received that children had been placed in disciplinary cells; was this different from isolation? Was the birth delivery of children free of charge? Was late registration of birth free, or were there charges associated with this?
VELINA TODOROVA, Vice Chair and Committee Taskforce Coordinator for Uzbekistan, noted that many families in Uzbekistan had members who were working abroad in Russia, with the families relying on these remittances from abroad. Bearing in mind the sanctions on Russia, was the Government taking steps to address the decline in remittances? It was understood that the share benefits in the total social budget was very low – below zero per cent. Why was this so low? If families faced a situation of crisis which affected the child, this presented a further issue. Gender stereotypes regarding parenting types and family roles was also an issue.
Could the Committee receive more information about the training and education for social workers, to ensure that children were able to stay closer to their families? How was it decided if a child should be removed from the family, or if the family should receive additional support? What were the strategies envisaged for alternative forms of care? Would this be family care, foster care or institutions? Adoption was not very well regulated, and more information needed to be provided regarding the secrecy on adoption. The system of early identification of disability and the support for families was unprepared. Children with disabilities and their parents experienced stigma and this was an issue which needed to be discussed.
BENOIT VAN KEIRSBILCK, Committee Expert and Taskforce Member, said serious concerns remained regarding infant mortality and children below the age of five. What was being done to monitor this and reduce child mortality? Was there a need to strengthen nutritional support during pregnancy? What was being done to ensure a level of equality when it came to access to health? The growing number of tuberculosis cases was a cause of concern; perhaps there was a need for guidelines on issues such as these. Was sexual education part of the mandatory school curriculum? What was being done in the area of suicide?
How many pupils were in classes? Were there specific guidelines around class size? What was being done to build the capacity of teachers and provide quality education with modern means? Mr. Van Keirsbilck said he had the impression that education relating to human rights was highly institutional; what pedagogical tools related to human rights education?
GEHAD MADI, Committee Expert and Taskforce Member, said it was understood that most refugees in the State party were from Afghanistan, who had fled following the Taliban’s takeover in 2021. There was information that they were not registered, and no benefits or legal services were provided to them. What measures were in place to facilitate the access to education, healthcare and social services for refugee or stateless children? What measures were being taken to protect children who were in a street situation and provide them with necessary services such as education and healthcare?
Mr. Madi commended the State party for banning children from working in the harvesting of cotton. However, reports had been received of child labour cases regarding construction. What measures were being taken to establish regular labour inspections, as well as training the inspectors? There were reports that children were detained with adults; what measures were being taken to protect the rights of child victims and witnesses? There had been reports that the sentences for perpetrators trafficking were not equal with the crime. What measures were been taken to train authorities to recognise victims of trafficking, and ensure that victims had access to psychological support?
SOPIO KILADZE, Committee Expert and Taskforce Member, asked about the third Optional Protocol, requesting feedback on this. What did the State party plan to do in the cases of children who required repatriation? Did the State party criminalise the recruitment of children by non-State armed groups? What measures was the State party taking regarding the establishment of the mechanism of early recognition of asylum seekers?
Responses by the Delegation
AKMAL SAIDOV, Director of the National Human Rights Centre and First Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan, and head of the delegation, said that 31 years ago today, the Uzbekistan Parliament had declared independence; a historic day in the State’s history.
An exhibition had been arranged on children’s rights, there were courses held on children’s rights, and a broad information campaign was disseminated on children’s rights. Children could address the Ombudsman’s office, as well as other State bodies.
In line with the amendments introduced to the law on children, minors could address courts and any public authority independently. Any communication submitted by children was confidential. The principles of the juvenile legal system had been included in the State’s legislation. There were no juvenile courts, as according to statistics, only 2.5 per cent of all crimes were committed by minors, meaning there was no need to create specific courts. Courts were able to hear from minors and schools for judges devoted courses relating to juvenile justice. Over the last six months, five meetings had been held with the United Nations Children’s Fund and other organizations on the protection of minors, relating to the judiciary.
The delegation said family ties were important when it came to adoption; people in Uzbekistan who had lost a child through an accident were given preference when it came to adoption in the State. The agreement of the child was determined through courts and the adoptive child had the same rights as other children in the family.
The death penalty had been abolished in Uzbekistan since 2008, and people now received life sentences instead. Minors did not receive life sentences, but rather alternative forms of punishment, including a penalty, social work, and correctional work. Deprivation of the liberty of children was a last resort by the courts. Only 13 per cent of cases involving minors resulted in prison sentences. Uzbekistan had carried out significant work to combat trafficking; 140 people had been imprisoned due to trafficking and 218 people had been identified as victims; 67 per cent of crimes relating to trafficking involved cases where people wished to adopt children.
The State had a broad understanding of juvenile justice which incorporated several elements, including legislation, education, and monitoring. There was a hotline in place for children, and the Children’s Ombudsman had received 54 appeals this year through this hotline. The Children’s Ombudsman had the right to regularly visit educational and military institutions, medical institutions, and detention and penitentiary centres, and carry out monitoring in these locations. The age of marriage had been reduced for girls. There was a gap; permission could be given by the mayor of the city or neighbourhood. The State was considering allowing the courts to make this decision.
A rehabilitation centre was established in 2008 to provide support for victims of trafficking, including psychological and legal support. Children victims of trafficking were treated separately in special institutions, with the opportunity to be educated. Victims were monitored for 12 months after leaving the institution. Since 2009, assistance had been provided to more than 4,000 victims. There were 45 special child-friendly interrogation rooms throughout the country, which were created with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund. Interrogation of a minor could not exceed four hours each day. Minors were informed that they had the moral obligation to provide a truthful testimony. Isolation facilities for minors were only used for a period of up to seven days maximum for those up to 16 years, and for those over 16, it could be up to 10 days. It was prohibited to keep minors and adults in the same detention centres.
Uzbekistan was considering ratifying the convention on the status of refugees and the Optional Protocol, as well as the two conventions on statelessness. A children’s parliament had been established, which had presented the children’s code. The most important right mentioned at the parliament was the “right to love”, which was not featured in the Convention. A mechanism was in place to provide social services for families in need. A roadmap was adopted to elevate the social services system and provide assistance to families that required protection. A special platform was in place which provided free legal and psychological support to women. Special allowances were provided to low-income families with minors up to the age of 18. The size of the allowance was determined by the number of children in the family. Monitoring work was being carried out on migrant families and their children, and targeted support to these families was provided. Practical support had been provided to 15,000 families.
Between 2019 and 2022, a programme was adopted on the deinstitutionalisation of homes and boarding schools. These were children’s homes where children who were left without parental care lived. Currently, there were three remaining – there used to be 22, and 19 had been closed. The children living there had been returned to their families, close relatives, or moved to foster homes. Some children were taken to family children’s homes which were non-State institutions and developed so that children could integrate back into normal life in a family context. Currently, international organizations including the United Nations Children’s Fund were providing Uzbekistan with support, and were assisting with a project to study institutions in the country. Research was being carried out on all boarding school institutions, and a strategy for deinstitutionalisation was being prepared. A secretariat had been created for the protection of children who had been adopted in each region.
Over six million students were studying at schools in Uzbekistan. The norm stated that there must not be over 35 students in one class.
As part of an operation, 381 children had been returned from places of armed conflict. These children had different levels of education and literacy, and a working group was established to evaluate the level of education of these students. In accordance with this evaluation, programmes were created which enabled these children to reintegrate back into normal life and society.
Around 150 children who were children of Afghan refugees had been admitted into the Uzbekistan education system.
Corporal punishment was prohibited in Uzbekistan and was not allowed in any situation.
Late birth registration was not punished in Uzbekistan and there were no penalties for this. A law on social work was adopted to modernise and regulate all social work. The law covered issues including mandatory registration and the expertise of social workers.
A State programme was reviewed every five years to determine illnesses and diseases in children, to increase effectiveness in combatting these diseases. A screening programme was being carried out in hospitals in Uzbekistan to identify visual and audio impairments in children born in maternity wards. Promotional campaigns had been created to encourage breastfeeding and promote education around safe and nutritious food for children. The World Health Organization had created a campaign which highlighted how long babies should be breastfed.
Special mobile units visited remote villages and remote areas to provide medical support. Children were vaccinated against 13 different controlled infections. A roadmap was signed in February with the United Nations Children’s Fund which covered issues, including the health of mothers, and funds had been allocated for the work.
More than five and a half million adolescents lived in Uzbekistan, with the health system giving special attention to young people. The Ministry of Health with the United Nations Children’s Fund reviewed different indicators and considered the opinions of young people and their families in order to facilitate a new strategy for the health of young people from 2022 to 2026. A strategy had been developed around psychiatric support, with a focus on supporting the family.
The State paid particular attention to tuberculosis, and a project had been implemented to treat tuberculosis among prisoners.
Free meals had been organised for children in primary schools in certain regions. The National Centre for Human Rights had carried out a study to incorporate courses on human rights, women’s rights, and children’s rights into educational institutions. Educational resources including textbooks needed to be prepared around children’s rights, as well as cartoons which would be disseminated in kindergartens and schools.
Questions by Committee Experts
VELINA TODOROVA, Vice Chair and Committee Taskforce Coordinator for Uzbekistan, directed the delegation to the joint statement issued by the Committee and the Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Could the delegation explain about the process of transferring institutions to the national guard? How did the State envisage the timeline of deinstitutionalisation? Could the State consider the pregnancy of a women as a mitigating circumstance for imposing a non-custodial penalty on a woman? How were the rights of children whose mothers were in prison being protected? What type of cash assistance did single parent families receive from the State?
A Committee Expert asked at what age children were consulted when it came to adoption? To what extent were the two Optional Protocols known in the country? Were they available and accessible to children? At what age were children trained to use weapons?
SOPIO KILADZE, Committee Expert and Taskforce Member, asked what the State party was doing for awareness raising to change the attitudes of society around issues such as early marriage and corporal punishment?
A Committee Expert asked if there was a stabilisation or reduction in suicide rates? There was a nexus between suicide, depression and self-harm which created a public health crisis for adolescents. How was the State coordinating on this with front line paediatricians and professionals?
BENOIT VAN KEIRSBILCK, Committee Expert and Taskforce Member, asked if children were given access to council or legal representation when they were first arrested? Were the parents informed and could they assist? What was the difference between “presidential schools” and regular schools? Were there any costs involved regarding the birth certificate?
GEHAD MADI, Committee Expert and Taskforce Member, said reports had been received about an Uzbekistan journalist arrested in Pakistan. The whereabouts of his children and wife were unknown. Could the delegation provide information on their whereabouts?
A Committee Expert asked about specialisation of the juvenile justice system? This was something that was needed, even though the number of children involved in crimes was small.
Another Committee Expert asked what happened after an adoption; was there monitoring and follow up? What about international adoptions? Did children have access to hotlines, and what were the issues they brought up? Why were there so many children placed in children’s homes? How was it ensured that any birth took place in appropriate circumstances? What was the coverage rate of vaccinations?
A Committee Expert asked about social workers; were there enough social workers? What were the plans for the training and capacity building of social workers?
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation said that single parent families received cash benefits. The mahala was a civil society institution which worked closely with municipalities and local authorities. Within this organization there were social workers who focused on women and children. The State was working on the issue of de-institutionalisation with the United Nations Children’s Fund. The high number of children still in institutions was because these children’s opinions had been taken into account when it came to the adoptive process.
Children whose parents were in prison received benefits. Seventy children had been adopted by foreigners. The Secretary on the Protection of Children monitored the situation of children who had been adopted, with checks carried out at least once per month.
The presidential schools accepted advanced children, however, this did not lead to discrimination, as State standards were equally implemented across public schools. Under the Constitution, education was provided to all individuals according to existing standards.
The topic of juvenile justice was very important, and this would be priority for the State over the next five years. A large-scale international event was recently organised with the United Nations Children’s Fund on juvenile justice, which included the participation of experts.
The journalist’s family lived in Uzbekistan and there were no charges being filed against them.
Regarding children working on construction sites, these were individual cases and could not be considered a mass phenomenon. The Labour Code provided for criminal punishment for instances where minors were involved in labour activities.
The principle of juvenile justice was enshrined and implemented in national legislation. The courts were prepared to consider these cases, but juvenile justice itself was a broad system, which encompassed many factors.
Children up to three years of age had the right to live with their mothers in prison, and there were special prison buildings for women who had children under the age of three. The children were cared for by specialists who carried out check-ups and ensured the children were inoculated.
At educational institutions, firearm classes were carried out with fake firearms.
A new Penal Code was being prepared which focused on the regulation of detention facilities for minors. Uzbekistan had prepared a roadmap relating to suicide. Work needed to be done to increase preventative activities with psychologists in the area, to identify risk factors for suicide. A State seal was issued in the case of births, which only cost a few cents.
There was a high level of political support relating to the measures of prevention for tuberculosis. A drop had been seen in deaths relating to tuberculosis over the past few years. Social workers were people who had the necessary professional skills to provide social services, and a document outlined their legal status. Parents were required to pay an annual rental fee for textbooks; children with disabilities and low-income families were exempt from this.
VELINA TODOROVA, Vice Chair and Committee Taskforce Coordinator for Uzbekistan, expressed gratitude to the State for the dialogue and for presenting the report in a timely manner. The dialogue had provided helpful information for the Committee to better understand the situation of children’s rights in Uzbekistan. It was hoped that the concluding observations would assist the Government to speed up the reforms regarding the implementation of the Convention, to allow all children to enjoy their rights.
AKMAL SAIDOV, Director of the National Human Rights Centre and First Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan, and head of the delegation, thanked the Committee for the constructive and professional dialogue. Mr. Saidov appreciated the work being carried out by the Committee, which helped the State understand the top priorities. All bodies would have access to the recommendations of the Committee, and a national action plan encompassing these recommendations would be prepared.
MIKIKO OTANI, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation and appreciated that the comments of the Committee were being taken into account. There were still some questions remaining, and it was appreciated that additional information would be provided. Ms. Otani extended her best wishes to all the children in Uzbekistan.