Uzbekistan: New reforms to improve the penal enforcement legislation and their practical results


Mirzayusup Rustambayev,

Head of the University of Public Safety of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Doctor of Law, Professor

In recent years, taking into account international standards and advanced foreign experience, ensuring the protection of the rights of convicts, respect for their honor and dignity, education of morality and conscientious work for further social adaptation in society upon release, a fundamental improvement of the penal enforcement legislation in the Republic of Uzbekistan has been carried out with the introduction of effective legal mechanisms.

Currently, there are a number of international conventions and provisions aimed at protecting the rights of convicts, which are regulated by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. (1966), “Convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” (1984), “Declaration on the protection of all persons from torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” (1975), “Standard minimum rules for the treatment of convicts (Nelson Mandela rules)” (2015), “UN rules for the protection of minor children deprived of liberty ” (1990), “Basic principles of the treatment of convicts” (1990).

Based on the norms of these international documents developed and adopted by the international community on standards for the treatment of convicts, systematic work is underway in the country to humanize execution and reduce negative consequences during their execution, as well as strengthen the legislative, organizational and legal framework for the protection of human rights, the implementation of international human rights standards into national legislation and other important norms human life activities that have been accepted for implementation by the Republic of Uzbekistan as a subject of the above-mentioned and other international treaties.

It is important to note that “Standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners” of UN 1955 are generally recognized minimum standards for the detention of prisoners and have great importance and influence on the improvement of legislation, criminal law policy and the practice of penitentiary institutions around the world.

The revised text of these standard minimum rules of December 17, 2015 at the 70th session of the UN General Assembly № A/RES/70/175 was unanimously adopted in the form of a resolution. These Rules became known as the “Nelson Mandela rules” as a sign of respect for his memory after the death of the famous statesman, the President of South Africa, who outlined these rules based on the experience of spending a long part of his life in prison.

It is also necessary to pay attention to the fact that, following the visit to Uzbekistan of the Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council, the topic “Promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the fight against terrorism” recommendations were made to bring the legislation of the Republic of Uzbekistan into line with the minimum standard rules for the treatment of prisoners (Nelson Mandela rules), in order to improve the conditions of detention of convicts in penal institutions, to ensure the rights to freedom of religion, which formed the basis of the “Road maps”, developed in accordance with the National Action Plan of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

In order to ensure the fulfillment of these tasks, the conditions of detention of convicts in penal institutions of the Republic of Uzbekistan are considered on the basis of the requirements of the standard minimum rules for the treatment of prisoners (Mandela rules), which are gradually being implemented in accordance with these rules.

On the basis of international standards of the rights and duties of convicts, taking into account the best practices of foreign countries, the system of execution of punishments is being radically improved, the problems that have accumulated over the years are being solved.

In the new version of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan the right to life is an inalienable right of every person and is protected by law. The most serious crime is an attempt on a person’s life. The death penalty is prohibited in the Republic of Uzbekistan. Essence is that no one can be intentionally deprived of life. This norm is in line with the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The human right to life is recognized as a natural and inviolable right arising from the moment of his birth, and belongs to a person regardless of the existence of statehood and laws.

In recent years, as part of the work to bring national legislation into line with international standards, for the first time the right to be elected was granted to convicts, except for persons who committed serious and especially serious crimes (Part 6 of Article 128 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan). The number of convicts held in institutions of general, strict, special, prison and educational regime has doubled, for correspondence, receiving visits, parcels, transfers and parcels, conducting telephone conversations.

In addition, those sentenced to imprisonment are guaranteed psychological assistance and non-application of disciplinary measures for violations committed at the time of mental disorder, and the right to a pension is established for those serving sentences in penal colonies.

Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan June 30, 2020 introduced a new norm into the Penal Enforcement Code defining the procedure for the application of incentive measures for persons serving sentences, expanded measures aimed at ensuring the personal safety of convicts while serving their sentences.

At the request of the convicts, long-term visits can be replaced by short-term visits or remote video calls or telephone conversations, and short-term visits are replaced by remote video calls or telephone conversations. Persons serving sentences from low-income families are employed in high-paying jobs.

In the process of ongoing reforms, special attention was paid to creating decent conditions for convicts, for this purpose, the pre-trial detention facility -64/1, which had a negative character and was popularly nicknamed “Tashturma”, was closed in Tashkent. Instead, a new pre-trial detention facility №1 has been built and is functioning in  Zangiata district of the Tashkent region, fully meeting international standards. Similarly, the institution “Jaslyk” in Karakalpakstan was abolished, and the convicts held in it were transferred to other colonies of the republic.

In recent years, there has been a tendency in our country to use alternative, non-custodial measures, which has reduced the number of convicts sent to penal institutions. This situation has made it possible over the past four years to reduce three penal colonies of the general regime, one each in Navoi, Kashkadarya and Tashkent regions.

In the Republic, the legislative, executive, and departmental authorities constantly monitor compliance with the rule of law and ensure the rights and legitimate interests of persons serving sentences in places of deprivation of liberty.

Thus, with the introduction of the post of Commissioner of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Human Rights (Ombudsman) He was granted the right to freely visit penal institutions. The Ombudsman and the Prosecutor have separate mailboxes designed for applications and complaints from these persons. The Prosecutor’s Office and the Ombudsman regularly examine the observance of laws in penal institutions. The management of the Department for the Execution of Punishment constantly carries out field visits to places of deprivation of liberty in order to study the complaints and statements of convicts and make an appropriate decision and its immediate execution.

It should be added that, according to the recommendations of the UN charter bodies and treaty committees, the national preventive mechanism is being improved on the basis of the “Ombudsman Plus” model. The Ombudsman, and the Children’s Ombudsman, the National Center for Human Rights and the Business Ombudsman have also been given the authority to monitor penal institutions.

As a result of the ongoing reforms, completely new priorities of the State penal enforcement policy have been developed and put into practice, providing for the following main aspects.

In particular, the Penal Enforcement Code has been supplemented with a new Article 102 “Procedure for the application of incentive measures”, which abolished restrictions on visits of juvenile convicts with their parents or persons replacing them; convicted pregnant women with children are granted additional rights to long visits with minor children lasting up to five days – four times a year as well as long – term visits with the possibility of living outside the territory of the institution, the application of incentive measures to convicts – at least twice a year; if there is a threat to the safety of a person sentenced to imprisonment, it is established that he can apply, verbally or in writing, to any employee of the institution for the execution of punishment in order to ensure the declared safety, while the requirement is defined – upon receipt of such a statement about the need for immediate action, measures should be taken immediately to ensure his safety. An important requirement is also to prevent the unjustified use of rudeness, physical force and special means by employees and military personnel during the search of convicts; timely and appropriate conduct of long and short-term visits, telephone conversations, remote video communication, short-term remote video communication or telephone conversation.

It should be noted that such measures of encouragement for convicts are also enshrined in the penal codes of Spain, Turkiye, Japan and some other countries.

In accordance with the norms of the Penal Enforcement Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan, penitentiary institutions provide measures to protect the health of convicts, ensure their education, free use of libraries and other authorized sources of information (radio, television, movies and video films, etc.).

The “Import model” of prison management in Norway with a developed penal enforcement system is of interest. To implement this model, work is underway to establish a system of providing services (education, library use, health care) in places of detention.

It is also necessary to mention the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated December 7, 2021, which, in order to humanize minors in the Penal Enforcement Code, provides for a norm defining the placement of persons in educational colonies not from the age of 13, but from 14. This has become one of the important steps towards reliable protection of the rights and legitimate interests of minors in the process of criminal and judicial proceedings in our country.

In order to further deepen the large-scale reforms being implemented in the system of Ministry of Internal Affairs, decree of March 26 and Resolution of April 2, 2021, the Main Directorate for the Execution of Punishment was transformed into the Department for the Execution of Punishment under the Ministry of Internal Affairs, it defines the legal basis for the department’s activities to ensure the order of serving punishment by digitalizing the penal enforcement system, which will eliminate errors related to the human factor.

In addition, the law of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated February 15, 2023 “On State pension provision for citizens” provides that any work performed by persons sentenced to imprisonment while serving their sentence in penal institutions may be envisaged that the convicted person will be included in the work record in case of tax payment. This procedure is now defined in Article 96 of the Penal Enforcement Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan in a new edition, which has been renamed as “Payment of social tax and pension provision for convicts.” Its first part defines “The expenses of institutions for the execution of punishment for the payment of labor sentenced to imprisonment that are subject to social tax”, along with this, convicts have the right to transfer funds and use other services provided to convicts.

An important legislative decision is the prohibition of the use of a punishment measure with the use of a “straitjacket”. This provision is based on Article 26 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, which states: “No one may be subjected to torture, violence, or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” directly acts to prevent the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in penal institutions.

As a result of the ongoing reforms in the system of state penal enforcement policy, it is stipulated that common living quarters for persons with disabilities of groups I and II sentenced to imprisonment should be equipped with special means and devices; it is allowed to watch films, television and radio broadcasts, except for the time allotted for night rest; criteria for treatment are defined convicts.

In addition, it is important to eliminate corruption factors in assessing the behavior of convicts by including the length of service in the institution in the total length of service for their further retirement and, most importantly, by establishing strict criteria that determine the way to correct convicts.

The above allows us to conclude that the reforms carried out in this area are yielding positive results. In particular, recently the offenses of convicts in places of deprivation of liberty and after their release have been reduced; to a greater extent, the conditions of serving a sentence in the form of imprisonment comply with international standards, the incentive mechanisms applied to convicts serving sentences and those who have embarked on the path of correction are being improved, they ensure the protection of the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of convicts, allowing them not to violate their interests; Public groups and citizens’ self-government bodies are actively involved in the educational process of correcting convicts; offenses by law enforcement agencies have significantly decreased.


This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept