Torture as a crime against humanity. The new Resolution of the President of Uzbekistan is aimed at improving the system of preventive mechanisms to prevent the use of torture

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The article Torture as a crime against humanity. The new Resolution of the President of Uzbekistan is aimed at improving the system of preventive mechanisms to prevent the use of torture” by Akmal Saidov, the First Deputy Speaker of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis, Deputy Chairman of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Academician of the Academy of Sciences of Uzbekistan was published in the issue of the parliamentary newspaper “Pravda Vostoka” for July 7, 2021.

On June 26, 2021, the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan signed a resoltution “On additional measures to improve the system for detecting and preventing cases of torture.” We talked with the director of the National Human Rights Center of the Republic of Uzbekistan Akmal Saidov about the content and significance of this resolution.

“The presidential resolution was signed on June 26, not without reason, an important date that is celebrated all over the world, including in Uzbekistan, as the International Day for Supporting Victims of Torture,” Akmal Saidov noted. – This is, indeed, one more proof that Uzbekistan, in the course of the implementation of an intensive and systemic reform in the field of human rights, strives for an organic synthesis of international experience and world standards in this direction.

In fact, the purpose of torturing a person is to destroy his/her personality and honor, conscience and values, as well as humiliation. Therefore, both the United Nations and the Republic of Uzbekistan, as its full-fledged member, constantly characterize the use of torture as the most inhuman crime applied by certain persons to others.

According to international law, torture is a crime against humanity. In all documents adopted in this area, torture is categorically prohibited, and the use of torture is not justified in any way. According to article 26 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, no one can be subjected to torture, violence, other cruel or degrading treatment of a person.

In this context, it should be emphasized that by the decision of the UN General Assembly of June 26, 1997, this date was declared the International Day of Support for Victims of Torture. Every year, various events dedicated to the prevention of torture around the world, as well as ensuring the effective implementation of the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, are timed to coincide with this international date.

This date is celebrated annually in our country. And the fact that this year the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan has timed the signing of his resolution to this date increases its historical significance for us at the national and international levels.

– What are the factors behind the adoption of this resolution?

– The President of the Republic of Uzbekistan in his Address to the Oliy Majlis on December 29, 2020, emphasizing the consistent continuation of reforms aimed at guaranteeing the protection of human rights and freedoms, the rule of law, drew attention to the need to radically improve the activities of the operational-search, investigative and punishment systems. This is due, inter alia, to the fact that, unfortunately, there are still cases of torture in these areas.

For example, crimes related to torture were recorded in 2017 – 7, 2018 – 10, 2019 – 16, 2020 – 16 cases. These sad events cause serious criticism from the public, as well as negatively affect the international image of our country. Therefore, the head of state could not help but pay attention to such cases.

The President of the country instructed the chambers of the Oliy Majlis and the National Human Rights Center of the Republic of Uzbekistan to develop proposals aimed at expanding the powers of the Ombudsman to prevent torture, as well as to strengthen public control in this direction. At the same time, attention was drawn to the need to involve representatives of the public in the system of quarterly “monitoring visits of the Ombudsman to pre-trial detention centers and institutions for the execution of punishment.

In addition, it was proposed to annually hear the reports of the Authorized Person of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Human Rights (Ombudsman) on the prevention of torture and the determination of measures for the complete elimination of such cases.

These important tasks are being consistently implemented. In particular, in 2020, the Ombudsman and public activists held 76 monitoring events in order to study the state of ensuring human rights in quarantine complexes, healthcare institutions and the execution of orders. Specialists of the National Human Rights Center of the Republic of Uzbekistan s are constantly participating in these events.

In other words, in recent years, large-scale measures have been taken in our country in order to further strengthen the guarantees of the rights and freedoms of citizens, including the absolute prevention of the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Along with this, the current stage of reforms has put on the agenda the need to take preventive measures to prevent the use of torture, promptly impartial consideration of appeals related to such cases, continue work on creating effective legal mechanisms for the continuous implementation of monitoring visits to places of detention of persons with limited freedom of movement.

This topical issue is reflected in the National Strategy of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Human Rights. The State Program “Year of Support for Youth and Strengthening the Health of the Population”, which is consistently implemented in our country, also provides for specific tasks in this area.

Thus, the resolution “On additional measures to improve the system for detecting and preventing cases of torture” was adopted within the framework of the program reports and speeches of our President of the country, the fulfillment of the tasks specified in the National Strategy and the State Program. The purpose of this decree is to improve preventive mechanisms to prevent the use of torture, taking into account the recommendations of the statutory bodies and UN treaty committees.

– What specific tasks are set by the resolution?

– First of all, the presidential decree defines the following priority tasks to improve the efficiency of the system for detecting and preventing cases of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment:

 firstly, bringing the system of detecting and preventing cases of torture in line with the generally recognized principles and norms of international human rights law;

secondly, the administration of the institution strictly enforces the prevention of viewing applications sent by persons with limited freedom of movement to national human rights institutions, as well as their immediate forwarding to the recipient;

third, improving the mechanism for the prompt and objective consideration of complaints about cases of torture, as well as the inevitability of bringing the perpetrators to justice;

fourthly, ensuring the provision of social, legal, psychological and medical assistance to victims of torture, as well as compensation for the damage caused to them;

fifth, the wide involvement of civil society institutions in activities to identify and prevent cases of torture, as well as ensuring their effective cooperation with government agencies;

sixth, informing the general public about the results of activities to identify and prevent cases of torture;

seventh, establishing close cooperation with international organizations and national institutions of foreign states in the field of torture prevention.

We would like to know about the activities of civil society institutions to identify and prevent cases of torture.

– We are talking about the institutions of civil society to identify and prevent cases of torture, created under the Commissioner of the Oliy Majlis for Human Rights (Ombudsman). The public groups will include experts from the National Center for Human Rights, medical workers, representatives of non-governmental non-profit organizations, the media and other institutions of civil society.

This will take into account their professional qualifications and practical knowledge to carry out monitoring visits, as well as ensuring gender equality.

The Presidential resolution provides for the tasks of the Public Groups. They mainly consist of carrying out monitoring visits on a regular basis to prevent the use of torture in the guardhouse, in special reception centers, temporary detention centers, pre-trial detention centers, penal institutions, disciplinary units, and compulsory treatment institutions.

It is noteworthy that in the decree a single term is applied to these special institutions “places of detention of persons with limited freedom of movement”.

Now the practice of a unified electronic register of persons will be applied to places of detention of persons with limited freedom of movement. The electronic system of the “unified electronic register of persons with limited freedom of movement” will provide their close relatives, legal representative and lawyer with information related to their place of detention and time.

This practice will also help prevent cases of such abuses as detention beyond the established time limit, incorrect indication of the beginning of detention, illegal detention of persons with limited freedom of movement.

In addition, the practice of telephone calls by persons with limited freedom of movement to a lawyer or a close relative is being improved, based on the requirements of the current legislation.

– Will Uzbekistan ratify the “Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment”?

– Definitely. As President Shavkat Mirziyoyev noted in his speech at the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council: “As part of the implementation of the national preventive mechanism for the prevention of torture, we will continue to strictly suppress all their manifestations, inhuman or degrading treatment. Such crimes will not have a statute of limitations. “

Then the head of state said that Uzbekistan would ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture. The resolution provides for a number of important tasks in this direction.

In particular, the National Human Rights Center of the Republic of Uzbekistan was instructed, together with the Ombudsman and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to submit to the Cabinet of Ministers proposals on joining the Republic of Uzbekistan to the “Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment”.

This Optional Protocol was adopted in New York on December 18, 2002 and over the past period it has been ratified by 91 states of the world. In turn, more than ten countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Lithuania, Moldova, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Spain, Turkey have joined this international legal document.

In this sense, the resolution of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On additional measures to improve the system for detecting and preventing cases of torture” will serve to bring the national system of preventive mechanisms for the prevention of torture in line with generally accepted international legal standards.

In conclusion, I would like to note that at present Uzbekistan ranks 106th in the Human Development Index of the United Nations Development Program, 136 – in the sub-indicator “political stability and absence of violence” of the Public Administration Quality Index published on the World Bank website, 110 – International Rule of Law Index the non-governmental organization World Justice Project.

Timely and full implementation of the innovations envisaged in the presidential resolution in practice will undoubtedly contribute not only to the effective implementation of measures to eradicate cases of torture, but also to the growth of the international image of Uzbekistan, which is firmly committed to its international obligations in the field of human rights.

Newspaper “Pravda Vostoka”
July 7, 2021

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