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Dilshod Aripov,

Advisor to the Director of the

Supreme School of Judges under the

Supreme Judicial Council of the

Republic of Uzbekistan

During the past period, large-scale legal reforms have been carried out in Uzbekistan, along with all other fields. From the first years of independence, one of the important steps chosen in the way of building civil society was formation of an independent judiciary based on the principle of separation of powers.

Especially over recent years, fundamental changes and reforms have been carried out over the judiciary of our state. According to the Strategy of Actions on Five Priority Areas of Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 2017-2021, initiated by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan – Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the task of ensuring the rule of law and reforming judicial system was defined as a special priority.

This task, first of all, was directed at ensuring the real and effective protection of the rights and freedoms of citizens, achieving true independence of judiciary, strengthening legality, implementing principles of equality and competitiveness of parties in trials, strengthening the role of judicial community bodies in ensuring the true independence of judiciary, implementing principle of the judicial self-governance and ensuring openness and transparency in the formation of judicial corpus.

The large-scale judicial reforms implemented in our state are being positively evaluated by international and foreign experts. Their feedbacks are being echoed in the articles published by independent experts and in their speeches in international events.

The former Minister of Justice of Slovenia - Goran Klimenčič, positively evaluated the changes implemented in the judicial system of Uzbekistan[2].

It is well-known fact that everyone has the right to demand an independent and impartial judicial proceeding. This right is reflected in Article 10 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in a number of other international documents as well as is included into our national legislation. Only an independent court can instill confidence that infringed rights can be recovered and protected by an impartial and transparent trial.

In this regard, the reforms planned to be carried out on the basis of the Development Strategy of New Uzbekistan envisage further democratization and liberalization of the judiciary, strengthening the true independence of the judiciary, and improving mechanisms for reliable protection of the rights and legal interests of citizens.

The Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated July 24, 2020 “On additional measures to further improve the operation of courts and increase the efficiency of justice”[4] on July 28, 2021 has become a new step towards ensuring the true independence of courts and inviolability of judges, as well as strengthening transparency in the activities of courts. As a result of the establishment of legal guarantees of openness of court cases by the law, the opportunity for media representatives to participate in the court session, without hindrance and to take photos, video and audio recordings in the prescribed manner, have been created.

It is important to note that judicial reforms are not only important for strengthening the independence of courts, but also for expanding the rights of physical and legal persons to submit appeals to courts. In particular, as a result of changes and additions to the laws at the initiative of the Head of State, the following legal guarantees have been introduced, aimed at ensuring the right of individuals to submit claims to courts:

- the current rates of state duties of submitting claims to courts have been revised and reduced;

- from May 6, 2017, the Representative of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan for the protection of rights and legal interests of business entities has been provided with the right to submit claims to courts in the interests of business entities without paying a state duty;

- from October 11, 2017, councils of farmers, farms and landowners have been provided with the right to file claims to courts, in the interests of farmers and landowners without paying the state duty, against the wrongful actions or inactions of state bodies or public officials;

- from July 4, 2018, it has been determined that the paid state duty is to be returned in case if a dispute is resolved through mediation;

- from April 24, 2019, it has been determined that claimant, who submitted a claim to courts regarding the protecting rights of children is to be exempted from paying state duty and other fees;

- from September 3, 2019, victims of harassment and violence have been exempted from paying state duty when submitting claims to court in order to seek compensation for material and moral damages;

- from September 12, 2019, the Agency for the Protection of Consumer Rights has been exempted from paying the state duty on claims submitted to courts for the purpose of protecting consumer rights.

A new judicial structure has been established within the Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan, empowered with an exclusive right to consider investment disputes and cases related to competition between individuals or legal entities and state bodies, when then amount of the dispute exceeds 20 million US dollars. The parties wishing to submit such claims can refer directly to the Supreme Court, which is entitled to consider such claims as the court of the first instance.

According to the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On measures to fundamentally improve the system of financing the activities of judicial bodies”[6] was adopted, according to which the activities of the Chamber of Advocates of the Republic of Uzbekistan were revised so as to adapt it to meet such aims as: establishing strong and independent bar corpus; creating a transparent system of granting the status of an attorney; strengthening the guarantees of lawyer`s professional activity; introduction of innovation and communication technologies to the field of advocacy.

In accordance with the amendments introduced to the Criminal Procedure Code, a suspect caught in the scene of crime has been granted with a right to privately meet the defense attorney before the procedural actions related to him start to be carried out. Besides this, any kind of explanatory letters or testimony from suspects, accused or defendant may be obtained only with the written permission of the investigator, prosecutor or judge and with the presence of the defense counsel (except in cases of refusal of the defense counsel).

It should be noted that in recent years fundamental reforms aimed at reducing the workload of judges and increasing their efficiency have been continued.

The Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On amendments and additions to certain legal documents of the Republic of Uzbekistan in connection with creation of more favorable conditions for submitting claims to courts and the introduction of a simplified procedure for civil proceedings” was adopted[8].

The introduction of modern information technologies into the activities of courts is being carried out rapidly. Citizens have been provided with an opportunity to apply remotely to courts, participate in court hearings and obtain necessary information and data.In particular, the following interactive services have been launched in the court system:

- “Claim” (exsud.sud.uz) – a service to send claims to courts in electronic form, monitor the process of considering cases online and receive judgments in e-form;

- “Electronic payment system” (billing.sud.uz) – a single electronic payment system enabling calculation of the amount of state duty and court fees;

- “Collection of judgements” (public.sud.uz) – a database of court judgements;

- “Samples” (templates.sud.uz) – a database of samples of claims and applications for civil and economic proceedings;

- “Calculator” (calculate.sud.uz) – an electronic calculator to evaluate the state duty to be paid for civil and economic litigation;

- “Schedule of Meetings” (jadval.sud.uz) – an online database of cases assigned to courts of first, appeal and cassation instances;

- “Electronic reception” (qabul.sud.uz) – a system of online registration for personal meetings with the management of the Supreme Court.

- “Video conferencing” (vka.sud.uz) – a video conferencing system allowing participants to join court hearings online.

- a videoconference communication system was established between courts and penal institutions.

As a result of these reforms, confidence of citizens in the judicial system is increasing. This can be noticed in the growing number of appeals to courts as well as increasing number of acquittals and decisions in favor of physical and legal persons. Thus, a general population has began considering courts not as a punishing body, but as a tool to protect their interests and rights. In order to further strengthen such trust, it will be necessary for courts to act without deviating from the law, to protect the interests of citizens, to restore their violated rights, to follow this path steadily, and on this basis to win the trust of the people.

 


[2]“Judicial reforms in Uzbekistan in the focus of foreign experts” (Ўзбекистондаги суд-ҳуқуқ ислоҳотлари хорижий экспертлар нигоҳида), July 28, 2021. https://uza.uz/uz/posts/ozbekistondagi-sud-huquq-islohotlari-xorizhiy-ekspertlar-nigohida_288055

[4]Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan, July 28, 2021.No. LRU-703. https://lex.uz/docs/6118937

[6]Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, May 12, 2018 No. PD-5441. https://lex.uz/docs/3731060

[8]Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan, October 4, 2021.No. LRU-720. https://lex.uz/docs/5667137