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Ensuring the true independence of the courts of Uzbekistan is a priority task of the ongoing reforms


Fri 05 Jul 2024 | 10:24 AM
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan
Ayub Muhammadiev, professor of the Department of Civil Law Sciences of the University of Public Security of the Republik of Uzbekistan, doctor of Law

As the most important task of judicial reform being implemented in the Republic of Uzbekistan, important work is being carried out to ensure constitutional human rights and freedoms, strengthening the authority of the judiciary, which is considered an important guarantee of effective protection of human rights and to ensure the true independence of the courts.

Also, further expansion of the population’s access to justice within the framework of the principle “New Uzbekistan - New Court” requires accelerating the reform of the judicial system and introducing advanced international standards into the field. We can also observe confirmation of this in the corresponding positions of our state in the ratings of international organizations. Thus, according to the results of the Rule of Law Index ranking for 2022 (worldjusticeproject.org), Uzbekistan took 78th place out of 140 countries with an indicator of 0.50 points, of which 75th place in terms of civil justice and 65th in terms of criminal justice.

The fact that the update of the Constitution on the basis of generally recognized principles and norms of international law is enshrined in the preface of the updated Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan is a clear expression of recognition of the supremacy of generally recognized international law.

Article 15 of the Constitution determines that international treaties of the Republic of Uzbekistan, along with generally recognized principles and norms of international law, are an integral part of the legal system of Uzbekistan. According to part four of this article, if an international treaty of Uzbekistan establishes rules other than those provided for by the law of the Republic of Uzbekistan, then the rules of the international treaty of the Republic of Uzbekistan are applied.

Article 17 of the Constitution especially emphasizes that the Republic of Uzbekistan is a full-fledged subject of international relations; it is established that international law is based on generally accepted principles and norms. The application by courts of generally accepted principles and norms of international law is permitted in cases where existing laws contradict these international principles and norms.

Article 11 of the Constitution states that the system of state power of Uzbekistan, which is considered a full-fledged subject of international relations, is based on the principles of separation of powers into legislative, executive and judicial. It should be especially noted here that in accordance with Article 131 of Chapter XXIII, dedicated to the judiciary, the judicial system and the procedure for the activities of courts in the Republic of Uzbekistan are determined by law; the creation of emergency courts is not allowed.

In accordance with Article 1 of the law “On Courts” in the new edition (2021), the judicial power in Uzbekistan operates independently of the legislative, executive powers, political parties, and other public associations. Judicial power is exercised only by the courts. It was established that no other bodies or persons have the right to assign powers to the judiciary.

Article 2 of this law defines the judicial system, which consists of the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan; Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan; military courts; Courts of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, regional and Tashkent city courts; Administrative Court of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, administrative courts of regions and the city of Tashkent; interdistrict, district, city courts for civil cases; district and city courts for criminal cases; interdistrict, district, city economic courts; interdistrict administrative courts. It has been established that in the Republic of Uzbekistan specialization of judges by category of cases can be carried out, but the creation of emergency courts is not allowed.

As noted in Article 4 of this law, the main tasks of the court are to protect the rights and freedoms of citizens, state and public interests, rights and legally protected interests of legal entities and individuals guaranteed by the Constitution and other laws, international treaties of Uzbekistan, as well as international acts on human rights entrepreneurs. The activities of the court are aimed at ensuring the rule of law, social justice, civil peace and harmony, that is, it indicates that it is implemented in accordance with international agreements and international human rights instruments.

It is worth noting that in recent years, important documents have been adopted to ensure the compliance of the judicial system of our country with generally recognized international standards. These include such important historical documents as decrees of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On measures to further reform the judicial and legal system, strengthen guarantees of reliable protection of the rights and freedoms of citizens” (2016), “On measures to radically improve the structure and increase efficiency of the judicial system of the Republic of Uzbekistan" (2017), "On measures to further improve the judicial system and increase confidence in the judiciary" (2020), "On measures to radically improve the system of financing the activities of the judiciary" (2021), decrees of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated January 28, 2022 “On the development strategy of the new Uzbekistan for 2022 - 2026”, Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated January 16, 2023 “On additional measures to further expand access to justice and increase efficiency of the courts."

The Decree of the President of Uzbekistan dated January 16, 2023 “On additional measures to further expand access to justice and increase the efficiency of the courts” provides for:

in order to ensure the effective use of resources involved in the implementation of judicial activities, on the basis of advanced foreign experience, transfer the powers to consider certain categories of civil, economic and administrative offenses to the relevant administrative bodies:

determine the procedure for completing cases of certain categories of criminal, civil, economic and administrative offenses in lower courts;

What is relevant is that issues such as reconciliation of parties in civil and economic cases, development of reasonable proposals for the widespread introduction of the institution of mediation are raised.

It is appropriate to recognize here that the main idea and provisions of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” have found their full expression in the updated Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, which is considered the basis of our national legislation.

It is known that the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” consists of a preamble and a total of 30 articles, and if all its provisions are sequentially considered, then one can note the consistency and consistency of the content with the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan on human rights. For example, you can notice the similarity between the contents of Article 3 of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”, which reads: “Every person has the right to life, liberty and security of person” and Article 25 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan: “The right to life is the inalienable right of every person and is protected by law. Encroachment on human life is a grave crime.”

Also, the rule that “no one shall be subjected to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” in Article 5 of the Declaration corresponds to the second paragraph of Article 26 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan “No one shall be subjected to torture, violence, other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment." One may also note the reflection of the provision of Article 9 of the Declaration that no one shall be arrested, detained or persecuted without cause in the second paragraph of Article 29 of our Constitution “No one shall be subjected to arrest, detention, detention, detention or other restriction freedom except on the basis of the law" and in the third paragraph - "When detained, a person must be explained in a language he understands his rights and the grounds for detention"

Article 10 of the Declaration enshrines the right of every person to demand an independent and impartial court and its reflection in international legal acts to which the Republic of Uzbekistan has acceded inspires confidence that only an independent court can protect the rights of every citizen through an impartial and open consideration of the case in court. In this regard, it should be noted that the reforms carried out on the basis of the Action Strategy for the Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan for 2017-2021, put forward at the initiative of the President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev, taking into account international standards, laid the foundation for democratization and liberalization of the judicial and legal sphere, ensuring genuine independence of the judiciary, protection of the rights and legitimate interests of citizens.

In order to improve the judicial system and ensure the independence of the courts, one of the important steps was the creation of the Supreme Judicial Council of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Supreme Court and the Higher Economic Court were merged, the activities of the Supreme Court were improved, the Economic Courts were reorganized into economic courts, 71 inter-district, district (city) economic courts were empowered to hear cases in the first instance. The first term of work as a judge is five years, then ten years and an indefinite term. The powers of the courts to independently resolve their financial, logistical and technical issues were withdrawn from the judiciary and transferred to the Supreme Court, which led to the independence of the courts from the executive authorities and ensuring their independence. The institution of returning a criminal case to the court for additional investigation was abolished, thereby putting an end to unnecessary censorship, and people were spared unnecessary confusion and nervousness. It was strictly established that a person’s guilt in committing a crime should be based only on evidence proven in court, that is, it was strictly forbidden to make decisions based on rumors and assumptions. In order to fully ensure fair justice, verify the legality, validity and fairness of court decisions, an audit authority was created.

One of the important problems of the judicial reform system is the new system for training qualified and mature judges and judicial staff. Increasing the population's trust in judicial institutions by the Supreme Council of Judges, ensuring the stability of justice and the rule of law, serves to transform the court literally into a “Fortress of Justice” and improve the level of justice.

The introduction of the institution of a plea agreement and its implementation in the criminal procedural legislation of our country is also an important factor in increasing the protection of human rights, freedoms and legitimate interests recognized in international law.

In accordance with the Decree of the President of Uzbekistan dated January 28, 2022 “On the new development strategy of Uzbekistan for 2022-2026”, about 300 laws were adopted in 2017-2021, more than 4 thousand resolutions of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan aimed at fundamental reforming all spheres of state and public life in five priority areas of development of our country.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev, in his report dated December 7, 2019, “The supremacy of the Constitution and laws is the most important criterion for a legal democratic state and civil society,” dedicated to the 27th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, especially noted “ensuring the true independence of the courts is our highest priority. We must not allow the courts to be influenced by certain officials. In this regard, it is necessary to strengthen responsibility for interference in court cases or pressure on the court.”

The issue of ensuring compliance of the judicial system of Uzbekistan with generally accepted international standards will continue to remain relevant. In addition, practical measures are ongoing to harmonize national legislation with international legal standards in the field of human rights. After all, constitutional reforms today require an approach to constitutional norms, which are the main legal criterion that determines the value of a person in the life of our society, taking into account modern realities and international legal standards.