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Statements Commission on Human Rights

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17 March 2004

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at the general debate of the High Level Segment of the
60th session of the Commission on Human Rights

16 March 2004

Dear Mr. Chairman,
Dear members of the Commission,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour to represent the sovereign Uzbekistan for the first time during the general debate of the High Level Segment in the “temple of justice and Human Rights” as the main Human Rights body of the United Nations was figuratively described by Mr. Bertrand Ramcharan. We consider the sessions of the Commission on Human Rights as the most important arena to establish constructive dialogue on the whole spectrum of issues in this sphere.

Mr. Chairman,

The today’s Uzbekistan with its 25 million population geographically and politically presents the basis of Central Asia. One of the most ancient civilizations in the world was born in this region. The Great Silk Road passed through its territory in the past. The history of my nation is deeply rooted in the centuries and counts more than 3 thousand years. From the ancient times such cities as Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Termez are well known in the world and their links were spread from China to Spain and from Europe to Indian Ocean.
Uzbekistan declared its independence and entered the period of revival of its cultural, intellectual and legal wealth, as well as democratic reforms in the economic, political and social fields.
Uzbekistan developed its own way of reforming the society and its own model of transition from authoritarian rule to democratic society and determined the concrete directions of state activity in the sphere of guaranteeing and protection of Human Rights.
In March 1992 Uzbekistan became the member of UN. Since that time the multilateral cooperation with different UN Human Rights instruments began. Therefore, I would like to mention the following points:
Firstly, the priority of Human Rights and rule of law in all spheres of social life has been declared constitutionally, as well as primacy of universal principles and international norms over the national legislation.
Secondly, Uzbekistan joined more than 60 international agreements in the sphere of Human Rights and all OSCE documents on human dimension, fulfilling its international obligations. For the time being seven reports on six agreements are already presented in the UN conventional bodies and we are in the process of presenting our second and third reports on them.
Thirdly, the Parliament of Uzbekistan adopted more than 200 laws on civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, which are fully implementing the basic principles and norms of international law on Human Rights.
Fourthly, while realizing the provisions of Vienna Declaration and UN Action Program we’ve created the system of national institutions on Human Rights, which consists of Constitutional Court, Ombudsman, National Center on Human Rights, The Institute on monitoring of acting legislation, Parliamentary committee on democratic institutions, non-governmental organizations and self-governing bodies of the citizens, that never existed before in the history of Uzbekistan.
According to Government’s decision in August 2003 Special Department on protection of Human Rights was established within the Ministry of Justice of Uzbekistan in order to increase efficiency of legal protection of rights and freedoms of citizens, secure objective and overall consideration of appeals from citizens on cases of abuses of their constitutional rights and freedoms, as well as promoting the more important role of attorney bodies in the sphere of protection of Human Rights. Today these institutions are occupying a fitting place in the system of Human Rights and enjoy public confidence and support.
Fifthly, with the aim to implement the resolution of the UN General Assembly on Decade of education in the sphere of Human Rights the persistent life-long system of education on Human Rights has been created in Uzbekistan. The national Plan of action in the sphere of education on Human Rights has been adopted and is now being consecutively implemented. The special course “Human Rights” is introduced into the curricula of all the schools and universities. We are in favor of extension of the decade on education in the sphere of Human Rights for the next ten years.
Sixthly, Uzbekistan is participating very actively in the World campaign on informing and spread of knowledge on Human Rights among different social groups of population. Particular attention is attached to translation, publication and dissemination of texts of basic international treaties on Human Rights in Uzbek language.
More than 50 international documents, i.e. UN, OSCE and Geneva Conventions on humanitarian law has been translated and published in Uzbek language. Textbooks, manuals, collected articles, posters, newspapers and more than 10 judicial magazines are being published, where all the issues of protection of Human Rights are widely illustrated.
Seventhly, the national system of monitoring the protection of Human Rights has been created and it is implemented in the following spheres:
- monitoring the conformity of national legislation to international standards on Human Rights;
- monitoring the realization of provisions of laws on Human Rights. Such monitoring includes parliamentary control, exercised by the Committees of Uzbekistan Parliament and Ombudsman;
- monitoring the efficiency of work in the sphere of education on Human Rights;
- monitoring the cases of Human Rights abuses by Ombudsman, National Center on Human Rights and non-governmental organizations.

Eighthly, the civil society institutions and mass media are widely involved in the system of protection of Human Rights. They are participating actively in following activities:
- preparation of alternative reports on the six UN instruments on Human Rights;
- legislative activities on drafting and discussion of laws on Human Rights;
- informative and educational activities among the population, particularly among women, children, invalids, imprisoned persons.

The Government appreciates the real contribution from NGOs and mass-media in increasing legal culture and awareness of population, in inculcating in people a democratic values and skills, in maintaining and defending the rights and freedoms of people and consider them as an equal social partner in the formation of the Human Rights’ culture.
Ninthly, we are carrying out very dynamic and constructive dialogue on Human Rights issues with all the international, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations.
We are ready to discuss any, even the most “embarrassing” issues, and reconfirm our adherence to international obligations in the sphere of Human Rights.
Thus, the international cooperation on Human Rights has become one of the priorities of the foreign policy of Uzbekistan.

Mr. Chairman,

Allow me to speak about the format, level and directions of our cooperation with both the UN Charter and conventional institutions on Human Rights. First of all, it should be stressed, that throughout recent years we are conducting very intensive dialogue with different UN institutions. The obvious evidence of these developments are the visits to Uzbekistan of the General Secretary of the UN Mr. K.Annan in October 2002, Deputy UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Mr. Bertrand Ramcharan, the consideration of reports of Uzbekistan in the UN conventional institutions, our close ties with the Office of the HCHR, as well as with other specialized UN institutions like UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO and UNDP.

Mr. Chairman,

As it is well known the Government of Uzbekistan has invited the UN Special Rapporteur on tortures Mr. Teo Van Boven to visit our country.
In Uzbekistan the visit of UN mission is considered as a start of long-term cooperation with this UN institution on the issues of securing the Human Rights in places of detention, as well as logical continuation of efforts to realize the democratic reforms.
Despite measures undertaken by the Government of Uzbekistan, there are certain facts of serious violations of Human Rights in places of detention. Strongly condemning such occurrences, we would like to emphasize that these facts have no systematic character. The state, using all means and resources available at its order, is conducting and will conduct decisive and uncompromising struggle against any violations of Human Rights and, especially, against torture of people.
Conclusions and shortcomings specified in the report of Mr. Theo Van Boven have been taken to special attention, thoroughly studied by relevant ministries and departments, and there has been started an active work on implementation of all 22 recommendations. At the same time, our experts have marked an inaccuracy and discrepancy of certain items of the report and our proposals and wishes have been sent to Special Rapporteur.
We highly evaluate the cooperation started with the Special Rapporteur of the United Nations and we have once again invited him to visit Uzbekistan.

Mr. Chairman,

In the second half of 2003 together with the United Nations Representative Office and in cooperation with national nongovernmental and international organizations, as well as embassies of foreign states (all about 40 organisations) we have drawn up a Plan of Action on the implementation of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
An Interagency Working Group has been established to monitor the implementation of provisions of the Plan of Action, which includes recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on torture Mr. Theo Van Boven.
It should be specifically noted that implementation of recommendations of Mr. Theo Van Boven has been started right after the publication of his report. Many of his recommendations have already been accomplished and the implementation of others is planned for 2004-2005.
Among the most important already taken actions it is worth to note the following:
First - the Government of Uzbekistan has openly condemned and condemns the use of torture in all its forms, and courts strictly punish employees of law enforcement bodies for using torture.
During the last year the disciplinary punishments were enforced with regard to 192 employees of the investigation units, who violated the requirements of the Criminal procedural law and infringed constitutional rights of citizens. These measures include 38 persons fired from their jobs and 15 others were found guilty of the death of detainees and were convicted accordingly.
Second - in August 2003 the Parliament of Uzbekistan amended the Article 235 of the Criminal code, which gives the concept of "torture" corresponding to the article 1 of the Convention against torture, that is also fixed in the Decision of Plenum of the Supreme Court from 19 December 2003.
Third - representatives of the international organizations, members of the European parliament, embassies of the European states, national and foreign non-governmental organizations, mass media, have got access to penal institutions. They have become transparent for the international community. They are open for international community to visit and monitor conditions on treatment of detainees. The number of visits to places of detention by the representatives of International Committee of the Red Cross increased from 4 in 2001 to 50 in 2003.
One of the many results of democratic transformations and liberalization system of punishment of crimes in Uzbekistan, in particular, is that nowadays the number of detainees comprises less than 184 detained persons per 100,000 people of the population of the country. This manifests one of the smallest figures in the post-Soviet area and in the world. The decrease of the number of imprisoned persons and as well as detainees during investigation have made possible to improve significantly conditions of their stay and medical treatment in the places of imprisonment and detention.
The Government of Uzbekistan is continuing the consecutive realization of policy on further liberalization of legal and judicial system of the country and the annual amnesties are the most important indicators of those developments. The amnesties are providing opportunities for tens of thousands of people to return to normal life. Since 1997 more than 200,000 persons were released according to acts of amnesty.
Fourth – there have been conducted more than 20 seminars and round tables following the recommendations of Mr. Theo Van Boven. Seminars on a theme «Monitoring of Human Rights - liberalization and democratization of public processes in Uzbekistan» have been organized in all provinces of the country, where representatives of law enforcement bodies, non-governmental organizations and mass media have had detailed discussions of recommendations in the report of the Special Rapporteur. In each of provinces participants of seminars have had an opportunity to visit prisons and detention centers in the given provinces.
Fifth - non-governmental organizations are taking active part in monitoring the implementation of items of the National Plan of Action, in particular they are monitoring the activity of penal institutions on such issues as securing the rights of prisoners for getting assistance from lawyers during their stay in detention centers and securing the rights of convicted minors for education.
Sixth - In Uzbekistan according to law the death penalty shall not be applied regarding the following three categories of persons:
- man over 60 years old;
- woman (irrespective of age);
- person, who has committed a crime at minor age.
Moreover, courts gradually reduce the possibilities to use the death penalty. For example, if the Criminal code introduced as of 1 April 1995 provided this kind of punishment for 13 crimes, after the last amendments to the Criminal code made by the Parliament in December 2003 death penalty can be ruled only for two kinds of a crime, namely for terrorism and premeditated murder at aggravating circumstances.
Thus, during the last 12 years dynamic reduction and consecutive liberalization of punishment took place in Uzbekistan and it clearly demonstrates the efficiency of legal and judicial reform, conducted by the country.
Replacements of death penalty by imprisonment after the appeal of verdicts are not single instances. For example, in 2002 the sentences were softened with regard to more than 20 persons and their death penalties was substituted by imprisonment.
As a result of liberalization of penalties the tendency of gradual reduction of the number of convictions for which death sentence is foreseen can be observed:
- in 2000 its number decreased by 22,7% compared to 1999;
- in 2001 by 21,8% less than in 2000;
- in 2002 by 44,8% less than in 2001.

Mr. Chairman,

We attach priority significance to issues of implementation of joint projects on technical cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the interested states.
Taking this opportunity we congratulate the new United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Mrs. Louise Arbour on the appointment to this important post and we looking forward to close and fruitful cooperation.
We have the great pleasure to note that exactly one week ago the Regional adviser of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights began his work on rendering the technical assistance in the field of Human Rights to the states of Central Asia, including Uzbekistan. Besides, the National Center on Human Rights and the United Nations Development Program have prepared a draft National Plan of Action on implementation of recommendations of the United Nations treaty bodies. We also take necessary measures on improvement of work with submissions of the Human Rights Committee and the United Nations special procedures on Human Rights.

Mr. Chairman,

The stability of a society and security of a state are vital for the protection of Human Rights in full. Among other risks and challenges, the international terrorism and religious extremism cause serious concern in Uzbekistan. Connecting with each other these phenomena obtaining more and more menacing character in terms of national, regional and international security.
«The shock of 11th September» Uzbekistan faced on itself exactly five years ago - on February 16, 1999.
«The European 11th September» in Madrid has once again shown the danger of the international terrorism to all countries, no mater which continent they are located in and what level of development they have.
An appeal of the Second World United Nations Conference on Human Rights of 1993 sounds crucial even today to the international community «to take necessary measures for strengthening cooperation to prevent terrorism and fight against it». The President Mr. Islam Karimov has repeatedly stated about readiness and determination of Uzbekistan to develop and strengthen interstate cooperation in the sphere of combating terrorism, including in its Human Rights aspect. One of concrete steps in this direction has become the beginning of work of the Regional antiterrorist structure of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Tashkent.
We are proud that, despite difficulties of transition period, the political stability, civil peace, the interethnic and religious consent are maintained in Uzbekistan.
Distinctive feature of modern Uzbekistan is an originality of its multinational and multi-confessional content. More than 100 national cultural centers and 16 various confessions functions in the country. It is necessary to emphasize the fact that during independence there was no case of national, interethnic or religious conflicts on the territory of Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan completely denies nationalism, racism, genocide and infringement of other peoples, cultures, languages and religions.
In conclusion, I would like to underline that the Government of Uzbekistan is determined to continue realization of deep democratic reforms in the field of protection of Human Rights. Uzbekistan is interested and ready to all-round and open cooperation in this sphere with various international organizations.

I thank for your attention.