On June 30, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev chaired a video conference to discuss issues of ensuring justice and combating corruption.
Over the past three years, more than 20 laws, decrees and resolutions on these priority issues have been adopted. As a result of the reforms, the courts have acquitted 2 thousand 273 persons. In addition, more than 3.5 thousand young men and women who committed crimes through negligence were released from punishment in the form of imprisonment under the guarantee of the mahalla and the public. Sixty law enforcement officials were prosecuted for human rights violations.
It was noted at the meeting that such changes strengthen the faith of people in the triumph of truth and justice. However, it is too early to say that the nation is satisfied with the judicial system.
It was emphasized that the recent tragic events in the internal affairs bodies of the city of Andijan and the Chirakchi district should be a wakeup call for the heads of the system, urging them to draw clear-cut conclusions. Currently, eleven internal affairs officers involved in these crimes have been charged, 7 executives have been dismissed from their posts, and 16 have been brought to disciplinary action.
In an open dialogue with local people conducted by parliamentary groups led by the leaders of Oliy Majlis houses, the representatives of the wider public openly cited cases of injustice in this direction.
From now on, deputies and senators, based on this experience, will conduct regular dialogue in their constituencies on issues of ensuring justice and the fight against corruption, involving the judiciary, sector chiefs and the general public.
Cases of injustice and problems expressed by the population will be critically discussed quarterly in local Kengashes, followed by specific questions to the responsible persons and an assessment of their activities.
The relevant committees of the Oliy Majlis will conduct a rating of justice and the corruption situation in each region, and will hold parliamentary hearings and audits based on the results of each half-year.
The National Center for Human Rights, the Ombudsman and the Tashkent State Law University have been instructed to organize the training of senior law enforcement officers in the special training module “Human Honor and Dignity is the Highest Value”.
It was noted that the quality of the investigation and the qualifications of investigators hardly meet contemporary requirements. Thus, in the first 5 months of this year, the courts acquitted 323 citizens, to whom the investigating authorities filed unfounded charges, and also ruled out unfounded charges against 1,854 people. In the past year alone, the state paid 6.7 billion soums of material and moral damage to 236 acquitted persons.
As you may know, the competition for judges was tightened by establishing requirements such as a certain length of service, graduation from the Higher School of Judges.
The President stressed the need to establish similar requirements for nominees for investigators. In particular, a number of responsible departments has been entrusted with creating the Institute of Investigation, devising completely new requirements for the profession of an investigator, introducing advanced experience and standards in this area.
Another important issue is that the law enforcement authorities violate the jurisdiction of cases. In particular, there are types of crimes that can be probed by any investigative body, and the jurisdiction of certain articles to a particular investigative body is not specified in the law.
In addition, in 2018-2019, the first instance court acquitted 307 people in 192 criminal cases. In none of these trials have prosecutors dropped charges. In this regard, it was noted that it is essential to introduce a procedure by which the prosecutor, without waiting for the completion of the trial, will decline the charges on his own initiative if errors of the investigation are revealed during the trial.
“Everyone who comes to the courthouse must leave with confidence that justice is what reigns in Uzbekistan. This is a requirement from the President!” the head of state asserted.
In more than 8 thousand or 44 percent of the appeals received this year, the applicants complained about the incompleteness and bias in the consideration of cases in the courts, as well as the delay in the consideration.
One more example. In 2019, more than 2.5 thousand or 44 percent of the cases considered in economic courts on appeal, cassation and supervision were canceled or changed. This indicates that in one of two cases, decisions of district and regional economic courts are changed after consideration by a higher court, which causes entrepreneurs and investors to suffer in matters of time and cost.
Responsible officials were entrusted with reviewing the judicial system based on best practices and international standards on the principle of “one court - one instance”.
The judicial practice of “supervisory review of cases”, which is outdated and whose very name does not correspond to the essence of justice, will be completely discontinued.
President Shavkat Mirziyoyev has put forward a proposal to eliminate all factors affecting the adoption of a fair decision by the court, including the right of the chairman of the Supreme Court and the Prosecutor General for objection. Parliament houses will consider this proposal.
It was emphasized that the decisions taken by the courts should be based only on evidence examined during the trial. Shavkat Mirziyoyev noted that some judges are fixated on the materials of the investigation, and this discredits the law, the judiciary and the state. The head of our state pointed out that justice should be carried out in front of people, openly and transparently, in the name of justice.
The President also talked about the creation of amenities for residents of certain areas and towns when applying to the court. For example, in Urgut, one of the most populated districts (500 thousand inhabitants, 102 mahallas), there is no civil court, hence citizens have to travel 80 kilometers to get to the Taylak inter-district court.
In this regard, instructions were given to optimize courts and their activities.
Private property should be guaranteed by law and courts.
Over the past year and a half, courts have quashed 1,730 decisions of hokims on land allocation, demolition and privatization of buildings and structures.
In a thousand cases, the courts restored the rights of citizens and entrepreneurs related to land relations, in 51 cases - in connection with demolition, in 62 cases - regarding privatization.
Shavkat Mirziyoyev pointed out that it is necessary to cancel the revision of the results of privatization, and, in general, to prevent government agencies from taking such an initiative that should be fixed by law.
It is necessary to strengthen guarantees of land rights and strictly determine that the issue of renouncing property rights can only be resolved in a judicial proceeding, the President noted.
The head of our state emphasized that hokims of regions, districts and towns as well as chief executives of all sectors are obliged to ensure strict compliance with these requirements in areas of responsibility.
“Bear in mind that an investor who is going to invest funds pays attention first of all to the extent to which judicial protection of his rights is guaranteed. Let the leaders understand: no one has the right to interfere in the activities of the court,” Shavkat Mirziyoyev underscored.
A bill will be drafted to bolster the liability for obstructing the activities of a judge and forcing him/her to make an unfair decision.
The institution of the bar is an integral part of achieving justice, and its role in ensuring justice is invaluable.
In Uzbekistan, there are currently about 4 thousand barristers, or 8.5 lawyers on average per 8.5 thousand inhabitants of the country.
Moreover, 43 percent of lawyers work in Tashkent, and not a single law firm is registered in 20 districts across regions.
The President noted the need to cancel the requirement of having two years of legal experience to start bar activities, to introduce the procedure for students to practice as an assistant lawyer. From now on, law schools will train undergraduates specializing in bar.
Due to the lack of a transparent selection procedure for lawyers provided by the state, there are cases when some investigators call acquaintance lawyers to the accused and put pressure on them. Thus, last year in Tashkent, out of more than 7 billion soums allocated by the state to lawyers, half was paid to 20 law firms out of a total of 746 of these firms operating in the capital city.
In this regard, relevant ministries were instructed to launch an electronic system for selecting attorneys who provide legal assistance at public expense. At first, the system will be implemented as an experiment in the capital.
The head of our state also highlighted the necessity of establishing the mandatory participation of a lawyer in the cases of persons accused of committing particularly grave crimes, as well as when considering the application of a preventive measure in the form of detention or house arrest.
A package of legislative acts will be developed and submitted for discussion to increase the attractiveness of the bar, consolidating the protection and guarantees of the rights of lawyers.
The widespread adoption of digital technology in the judiciary is a must today. The task was set to introduce, by the end of the year, a single complex of Adolat information systems in the Supreme Court.
This will allow one to appeal to the courts electronically, monitor the status of complaints online, send information to the parties in electronic form.
It was emphasized that this year the courts should be 100 percent provided with video conferencing capacities.
The next important issue on the agenda of the meeting was the anti-corruption reforms.
Shavkat Mirziyoyev noted that 143 types of public services were transferred to electronic form, in 35 departments the number of necessary documents and the time for receiving the service were halved. The principles of openness and transparency have been introduced into the processes of budget spending, public procurement, sale of land, buildings and structures.
Yesterday, on June 29, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan signed a decree on the creation of Anti-Corruption Agency.
Together with the leaders of industries and regions, the body will have to carry out the following tasks.
First, the hokims of all regions, districts (towns) in the territories under their jurisdiction, and industry chief executives - in their systems, will develop within a month a program “Without Corruption” together with the Agency. The main objective will be to ensure openness and transparency as well as digitalization of activities.
Second, effective parliamentary and public control over the prevention of corruption will be established. In particular, the Agency will analyze the state of anti-corruption work and annually submit a national report to the President and the Oliy Majlis.
It was also indicated that the Agency, in cooperation with the public, the media and other civil society institutions, should study the perception of corruption among the population and entrepreneurs, evaluate the performance of state bodies.
Third, in countering corruption, serious attention will be paid to the issue of training. For this, a separate training module on the study of corruption problems, a special department and a masters program will be opened at the Academy of Public Administration and Tashkent State Law University. Training courses will also be organized for senior staff, especially hokims, to develop their knowledge and skills in this area.
Responsible officials provided information on the organization of the execution of tasks set at the meeting.