IND Habeas Corpus Implementation Training Series
December 01, 2008
IND Initiative on Religious Tolerance in Uzbekistan
August 01, 2008
Groundbreaking Human Right Dialogue in Tashkent
March 10, 2008
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Archive: Uzbekistan Human Rights Program
Strengthening Human Rights Protection Program in Uzbekistan
IND is currently implementing an USAID-funded project on strengthening human rights protection in Uzbekistan. The program aims to assist judges, prosecutors, investigators and independent defense lawyers to implement the new habeas corpus legislation. Under the program, IND will offer consultations to the government on reforming the country’s prison system. Within its initiative to promote freedom of religion and protection of religious rights, IND is organizing roundtable discussions for government representatives and religious communities. The program also provides support to local human rights activists to conduct independent prison monitoring.
IND Open Dialogue Project for Human Rights Reforms in Uzbekistan
Between 2005 and 2008, IND implemented the USAID-funded Open Dialogue for Human Rights Reform Project in Uzbekistan through a sub-grant from Eastern Kentucky University. The project’s goal was to promote, encourage and support policy reform in the human rights arena by facilitating constructive dialogue and negotiations on human rights protections between civil society and the government of Uzbekistan.
While the operating environment for foreign organizations in the country became extremely restrictive after the events in Andijan, the project’s philosophy of engagement with civil society organizations and with government provided a reliable formula for continuing work on human rights. IND was able to maintain open channels of communication with both the Uzbek government and Uzbek human rights activists. This resulted in IND’s ability to conduct formal training activities with human rights activists throughout the three years of the project. At the same time, the project used creative approaches to encourage the government to undertake needed reforms and address human rights problems.
The results of the project in the policy area have included the successful promotion within government circles of concrete legislative and structural reforms. The project’s work with civil society activists resulted in developing their capacities to address human rights problems in direct interaction with local authorities; establishing regional networks of human rights activists; and providing support to defense lawyers to actively promote necessary legislative changes.
One of the important results of the project were negotiations with the Uzbek government on re-registering the local human rights NGO, the Medical Legal Center of Bukhara. Subsequently, a team of medical doctors associated with this NGO was given access to monitor detention facilities nationwide in February 2008.
After three years of engagement in human rights reform, IND and EKU witnessed the results of their work in March 2008 during the Uzbek-American Forum: Law Enforcement, Human Rights and Global Security, organized by the two organizations and the Foundation of Regional Policy of Uzbekistan in Tashkent. The forum, which was widely attended by senior officials of all institutions dealing with criminal justice and human rights protection, resonated positively in the Uzbek media and received high praise from American officials.
Ten American and four European law enforcement experts and judges participated in the forum that provided a thorough overview of criminal justice reform in Uzbekistan, shared experiences from other countries, and provided the Uzbek government with recommendations for future improvements in human rights protection.
The Uzbek side expressed a firm desire to cooperate with U.S. organizations to implement legal and structural reforms in the human rights arena. During the forum, Uzbek officials pointed out how beneficial the work of IND and EKU was in designing approaches to human rights reforms.
The main achievement of the forum was an important political message from the Uzbek authorities that improving human rights standards is a priority of the ongoing reforms in the criminal justice system. This political message helped create a more positive environment for the work of international democracy building NGOs and local activists.
In May 2008, IND and EKU in cooperation with the Foundation of Regional Policy of Uzbekistan, OSCE and USAID, sponsored an international conference on regional security in Tashkent. The conference entitled “Problems of Providing Security and Sustainable Development in Central Asia” engaged more than 150 Uzbek and international experts from prominent policy institutes, academic institutions and governments. The conference included policy discussions and expert consultations related to major challenges such as terrorism, religious extremism, drug production and related criminal activities, such as weapons and human trafficking, that continue to generate serious risks for the immediate neighbors, and also for EU and the United States.