- Published: July 29, 2019
Legal Policy Starting Point
In office since the end of 2016, President Shavkat Mirsiyoyev has ordered sweeping reforms in many areas that he is seeking to implement quickly: development of the state system; increase in the efficiency of public administration; social security; economic development; and establishment of external trade relations. After many years of isolation, Uzbekistan is facing up to the challenges of economic and cultural globalisation and is opening itself through a change in political discourse, privatisation and liberalisation of the economy. The release of political prisoners, the creation of a petition system and respect for the rights of migrant workers are merely a few examples of this clearly noticeable transformation. Uzbekistan has also achieved perceptible rapprochement in the previously tense relationships with its neighbouring states. Moreover, the country is making active efforts to attract foreign investments and technologies, as well as to create a more attractive image as a tourist destination.
The area of rule of law and judiciary is privileged and is ranked second in the development strategy. Transition processes that have already been initiated include modernisation of the general jurisdiction, strengthening of the independence of the judiciary, improvements in substantive and procedural law within civil, criminal and administrative law, as well as basic and further training in law and support for the legal professions. Measures have been introduced to combat excessive bureaucracy and corruption, to implement restructuring, to establish a Council of Judges to bolster judicial self-governance and to make new appointments to key positions within the judiciary.
2018 was The Year of Support to Active Entrepreneurship, Innovative Ideas and Technologies in Uzbekistan, which radiated into the legal sector as well. In response, the World Bank classified Uzbekistan as one of the 10 most active reform states.
This fresh impetus is impacting positively on the country‘s international relations. A significant intensification is noticeable at leadership and working level and is expressed in a lively and at times very high-level stream of visitors.
The ten-year anniversary of cooperation with the Republic of Uzbekistan was a particular feature of the reporting year. The IRZ started cooperation with Uzbekistan in 2008 as the first country in Central Asia. The aim was to provide advice on building the rule of law and strengthening democratic structures. Partners over the last ten years have included key judicial entities such as the Ministry of Justice and associated institutions, the General Prosecutor’s Office, courts, the State University of Law, various academic institutes and others. Overall, the IRZ has built trusting and stable relationships by implementing numerous measures in a wide range of formats – specialist seminars in both countries, study trips, practical workshops, dispatch of experts to conferences and others. Moreover, a European consortium led by the IRZ carried out an extensive EU project on implementation of the initiated criminal law reforms from 2011 to 2015.
This decade of the IRZ‘s cooperation in the country was taken as the occasion for a high-level delegation of the Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection (BMJV) and the IRZ to visit Uzbekistan in November 2018, led by Christian Lange, Member of the Bundestag and Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection and Vice President of the IRZ Board of Trustees. Seeking to acknowledge the cooperation so far and to strengthen it for the future, the IRZ hosted a conference on the challenges of modern criminal justice on 14 November 2018, as well as a ceremony marking the anniversary. High-level representatives of the Uzbek judiciary took part in both events.
Criminal law remains one of the priorities in the cooperation with partners, especially with the General Prosecutor’s Office; this aspect was also reflected in the anniversary conference. At the event, Uzbek experts provided the participants with some insight into the current reform projects within criminal law and criminal procedure law in Uzbekistan. Other important topics included the guarantee of fundamental rights in criminal law and criminal procedure law, as well as measures to bolster the role of defence lawyers in criminal proceedings. The exchange of views during a subsequent panel discussion centred around means of simplifying and accelerating criminal proceedings, as well as on the digitisation of investigative and criminal proceedings.
The long-standing, trusting cooperation between the IRZ and the General Prosecutor’s Office culminated in a Memorandum of Understanding, which was signed during the visit.
An interactive series of events in the form of a moot court on criminal law and criminal procedure law was continued at the State University of Law in Tashkent in order to train legal methodologies. The purpose of the event was to practice with the students the implementation of criminal law standards, as well as to compare and analyse the order of criminal proceedings in Uzbekistan and Germany. Students were asked to participate actively by assuming all the different roles in the fictitious trial and hence received particularly illustrative instruction in the application of the law and the importance of procedural law.
The still young Legislation and Parliamentary Research Institute within parliament co-hosted a joint seminar of GIZ and the IRZ attended by German colleagues from the Bundestag and Bundesrat addressing issues of civic participation in the legislative process, formal legal requirements placed in laws, questions of interpretation, as well as regulatory impact assessments for laws.
Foci of Activity in 2018
- Cooperation in the seminar on legislative processes and legislation technique in cooperation with the GIZ and the Centre for Legislation at the parliament in Tashkent
Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law
- Study trip to Germany for representatives of the General Prosecutor’s Office on how to strengthen institutional capacities and to share views on juvenile criminal law and policy to combat corruption
- Practical seminar for techniques of case resolution, including moot court proceedings in criminal law and criminal procedure law for students and lecturers at the State University of Law in Tashkent
- Lecture and discussion forum at the Academy of the General Prosecutor’s Office in March in Tashkent on the basics of German criminal law and criminal procedure law
- Conference in Tashkent on the challenges of modern criminal justice with the General Prosecutor’s Office, followed by anniversary celebrations marking 10 years of bilateral cooperation in November
The IRZ will continue to work with its current partners, prioritising criminal law and criminal procedure law. The close and successful cooperation with the General Prosecutor’s Office and the Academy of the General Prosecutor’s Office will be strengthened as well. There are also plans to hold events with the Ministry of Justice and the State University of Law, as well as the Lawyers‘ Further Training Centre at the Ministry of Justice, all of whom are long-standing partners of the IRZ.
Cooperation with the panel of judges on administrative disputes at the Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan is scheduled in the form of training courses for judges in the newly created field of administrative court jurisdiction. In this context, practical elements of basic and further training in the legal professions will be integrated in particular.
Expertise with practical relevance will remain in the focus of all measures and their contents in the coming year as well.