From the first days of independence, Uzbekistan has been following a path on building a democratic state and just civil society. Looking back on 25-year path of independent development, we can say with full confidence that the huge work for socio-economic and socio-political reforms, which led to large-scale achievements and successes in all spheres of public life and society, has been done.
The liberalization of legal system and economy, democratization and modernization of the state - these processes continue to be carried out in Uzbekistan stage-by-stage and interconnected, according to national peculiarities and advanced international practices.
An important component of a democratic state is a strong and fair legal system, which provides guarantees for protection of the rights and interests of citizens, which, in turn, creates the conditions for prosperity and progress of the country.
In Uzbekistan over the years of sovereign development a series of reforms have been carried out with an aim to improving judicial system, transforming it to the main guarantor of effective protection of human rights and ensuring genuine independence of judiciary.
Even the first Law "On Courts" dated September 2, 1993, stipulated such universally recognized principles as the presumption of innocence, right to protection, competition and publicity of trial, other principles, which then further developed in the new Criminal Procedure Code and Civil Procedure Code and other legislative acts of the republic. At this stage of reform the legislative fundamentals of legal proceedings, truly independent and self-supporting judicial system were laid down.
On August 30, 1995, taking into account world experience, the Constitutional Court was established in the country. This body ensures the compliance of acts with legislative and executive branches to Basic Law of the country. In the course of further development of the judicial sphere, the system of economic courts has been established, which in conditions of transition to a market economy has become an important factor in ensuring the rule of law in economic relations. Courts of general jurisdiction were also established. The legal framework of the judicial system has been expanded.
An important step in the liberalization of the judicial sphere was the adoption of the new edition of the Law "On Courts" dated December 14, 2000, which embodied the experience of reforming the judicial system, accumulated over the years of independence. In accordance with this document, effective mechanisms for implementation of constitutional principle of separation of powers and independence of court as a full-fledged independent branch of power have been created, and the judicial system was completely derived from the control and influence of the executive power. Along with this specialization of courts on criminal, civil and commercial matters has been fixed. The appeals procedure for consideration of cases has been entered and cassation instance has been reformed. Life itself has shown the correctness of this decision, as specialization of courts has improved the quality of cases and increased guarantees for protection of rights and freedoms of citizens. The law also encompasses the issues of selection and appointment of judicial personnel.
The Higher qualification commission for selection and recommendation of judges under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan has been created in order to strengthen the independence of judiciary, democratic principles of formation of cadres' reserve, transparency in selection and recommendations of candidates for the post of judges, assurance of stability and efficiency of judiciary in the country. Alternative mechanism of dispute resolution ? "the arbitral tribunal" has been developed.
In addition, the age limit was determined for persons for the first time being appointed for the position of judges of inter-district, district (city) courts. Qualifying requirements for training of judges, necessary legal and social guarantees for independent legal procedures were consolidated. Protection of social status of judicial bodies’ employees was strengthened.
As part of active introduction of modern information and communication technologies in activities of courts, improvement of legal proceedings efficiency, extensive measures were taken in the sphere of informatization and effective use of computer technologies, establishment of information systems and resources in courts, expansion of scope of provision of interactive services to businesses and public and, most importantly, implementation of e-judicature, which has been successfully applied in many countries.
Starting from 2013 the system of economic courts and from 2015 the courts on civil cases a mechanism that allows executing necessary documents for proceedings in electronic form has been in place. Use of videoconferencing in the activity of economic courts provides the possibility of receiving citizens in a videoconference mode, monitoring of trials, conversation of citizens with leadership of economic courts. All this enables to make the most efficient oversight over judicial activities provided for in Article 43 of the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan "On Courts".
Along with the judiciary system profound reforms are taking place in the system of the Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Internal Affairs, General Prosecutor's Office and other law-enforcement agencies that ensure lawfulness and legal order in society.
In accordance with Articles 43, 44, 116 of the Constitution, everyone is guaranteed judicial protection of his rights and freedoms, right to appeal any unlawful action of state bodies, officials, public associations, right to professional legal assistance at any stage of investigation and court proceedings. In this regard, consolidation of the institute of advocacy became one of priorities in the course of further implementation of judicial reforms, which are aimed at ensuring effective protection of human rights and freedoms. Civil and social institutions were established. They include Ombudsman, National Centre for Human Rights and a number of others structures. The presence in the state of persons, who can provide competent and qualified legal aid, is the key to existence of a harmonious society as a whole, legal education and democratization.
Over the years of independence liberalization, humanization and decriminalization of criminal and criminal-procedural legislation have become the most important area of criminal court proceedings.
One can assert that measures taken in this area, in particular the Law "On introducing amendments and additions to Criminal, Criminal-Procedural Codes and Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan on administrative responsibility in connection with liberalization of criminal punishments" of 2001, had significant social and socio-political importance. The list of grave crimes was reduced, resulting in about 75% of crimes from the category of grave and gravest crimes transferred into the category of crimes that do not pose great danger to society and less serious ones. Along with this alternative forms of punishment for crimes, not related to deprivation of liberty, were introduced. Punishments on 87 elements of crimes were commuted; in 26 elements of crimes penalties of imprisonment were excluded.
In accordance with the amendments to criminal-procedural legislation, terms of investigation and detention of persons in custody were reduced; on 11 elements of crime use of imprisonment with compensation of property damage caused by economic crimes was limited. Opportunities on cases of crimes in the sphere of economy were significantly expanded ? economic sanctions in the form of fines are being applied instead of arrest or imprisonment. Such form of punishment as confiscation of property has been excluded from the system of penalties.
In continuation of this work on August 27, 2004, an institute of reconciliation was introduced in law-enforcement, judicial practice, and now this legal mechanism effectively functions. According to it, the perpetrator, who does not pose great danger to society and fully compensate material and moral damages to the victims, is not involved in criminal liability. The effectiveness of this institution, its compliance with such centuries-old traditions of the Uzbek people, as compassion and forgiveness, became the basis of its consistent expansion.
The abolition of death penalty from January 1, 2008. It became the most important step in the liberalization of criminal legislation. In addition, capital punishment - life imprisonment is applied only to 2 kinds of crimes - for terrorism and premeditated murder under aggravating circumstances, on which alternative, less severe punishments also may be applied. In the country this type of punishment cannot be prescribed to women, persons who have committed crimes under the age of 18, men over sixty years.
The Concept of further deepening democratic reforms and formation of civil society in the country, which was developed by country's President Islam Karimov, has marked a new stage in providing complete and reliable protection of human rights and freedoms in Uzbekistan. This policy document a series of measures on expansion of the scope of "Habeas Corpus" Institute, further development of mechanisms to ensure independence, objectivity and impartiality of the court, enhancing competitiveness in the trial, liberalization of criminal legislation, raising the level of legal culture of citizens have been identified.
In the course of implementation of tasks set by the President of Uzbekistan, incorporating international legal standards into national legislation, improving their application in practice is carried on. This is also facilitated by international cooperation with UNDP, OSCE and other international organizations. Dialogue with the European Union is actively developing, a number of joint projects to support reforms in the judicial sphere have been implemented.
The dynamic socio-economic development of independent Uzbekistan and active promotion of private ownership and entrepreneurship in the country led to reforms in this area. The resolution "On measures to ensure reliable protection of private property, small business and private entrepreneurship, the removal of barriers to their rapid development" signed by the President of Republic of Uzbekistan on May 15, 2015, is aimed at increasing responsibility of state’s officials, law-enforcement and regulatory authorities for obstruction and illegal interference in entrepreneurial activity, violation of private property rights, as well as strengthening protection of private property guarantees the continuation of the liberalization process of administrative and criminal legislation regulating entrepreneurial activity.
The law is large-scale document, which facilitates reforming criminal legislation towards its liberalization through implementation of a number of international legal norms. In particular, the document incorporated UN Convention against corruption. This law differentiated responsibility for corruption crimes of state and private sector. It makes provision for offenses like commercial bribery, bribery of employee of non-state commercial or other non-governmental organization, abuse of authority of officials of non-government commercial or other non-governmental organization.
The criminal legislation has been liberalized through the mitigation of liability of officials engaged in administrative-distributive and administrative-economic powers in business structures and other non-governmental organizations through the introduction of separate articles in the Criminal Code, which provides for softer penalties.
The Code of Administrative Liability was amended. According to amendments, the confiscation of property for administrative offenses carried out solely on the basis of court decisions.
In the Economic Procedural Code examination procedure of corporate disputes has been concretized. In addition, the code improved the procedure for considering complaints pertaining to compensation for damage caused to businesses by an illegal act adopted by a state body, citizens' self-government body or commission of illegal action (inaction) by their officials.
The adoption of the Law "On Parliamentary Control" dated April 11, 2016, was an important event in a series of democratic reforms and significant for the legal system of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The purpose of this normative act was to regulate relations in the field of organizing and monitoring the activities of public authorities and management and their officials on observance of the Constitution and other laws of Uzbekistan, Oliy Majlis Chambers and their agencies’ decision, state programs, as well as on implementation of tasks and functions entrusted to them. In this context, parliamentary control covers a scope of activity of the prosecutor's office bodies, thereby increasing the effectiveness of their efforts to ensure the rule of law in the country, protection of citizens’ rights and freedoms, interests of society and state.
Thus, the judicial and legal reforms in Uzbekistan, which are filled with ideas of humanism and aimed at ensuring the rule of law and protection of citizens’ rights and interests, have strengthened the foundation of the young independent state as an international community's full-fledged member that develops in a democratic way. Their results became the guarantee of peace and stability, progress and prosperity, and most importantly - well-being and happiness of every citizen of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
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