On March 3-4, Tashkent will host a high-level international conference “Regional cooperation of Central Asian countries within the framework of the Joint Action Plan for the Implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (GCTS).” It is of great importance in consolidating and intensifying the efforts of the regional countries and the international community in the joint development and implementation of coordinated and concerted measures to counter terrorism.
At the upcoming event, held at the initiative of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, put forward at the 75th session of the UN General Assembly, the unique experience of implementing the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (GCTS) in the countries of Central Asia will be presented, issues of prevention and cooperation in the fight against terrorism, ensuring the human rights and the rule of law will be discussed and tasks for the coming period will be outlined.
Terrorism is one of the main threats to peace and international security. Our country consistently and unconditionally condemns terrorism in all its forms. The counteraction to this evil in Uzbekistan is comprehensive, it combines measures to eliminate the conditions conducive to its spread, as well as to prevent and combat it in close coordination and cooperation with the international community.
Terrorist activity in the modern world is complex, multifaceted and not limited by national borders. It directly affects human rights by depriving people of the opportunity to enjoy the right to life, liberty and physical integrity. In addition to human losses, terrorism can destabilize Governments, undermine the functioning of civil society, and pose a threat to peace, security, and socio-economic development.
The legislation of the Republic of Uzbekistan, as well as international, is focused primarily on the protection of human rights, ensuring the stability of the state’s activities. Uzbekistan has adopted a number of normative legal acts containing norms ensuring the fight against the spread of extremism and terrorism.
Uzbekistan is a full-fledged member of the world community, a participant in 14 international counter-terrorism agreements and regional agreements to combat terrorism. In particular, the Republic of Uzbekistan, taking into account national interests, has implemented the provisions of the UN conventions on combating terrorism into national legislation. For example, the provisions specified in “The Convention on Offences and Certain Other Acts Committed on Board Aircraft” (Tokyo, 1963) and “The Convention on the Suppression of Unlawful Seizure of Aircraft” (The Hague, 1970) were reflected in national acts.
Our country in its history has repeatedly faced manifestations of extremism and terrorism. The existing experience of countering extremism and terrorism shows that in Central Asia extremist and terrorist activities are carried out mainly under the guise of nationalist, religious and other radical ideas. Work on countering terrorism is carried out within the framework of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the laws “On Combating Terrorism”, “On Counteracting Extremism”, “On Countering the Legalization of Proceeds from Crime, Financing of Terrorism and Financing the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction”, the Criminal Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan and other regulatory legal acts.
National legislation provides a clear definition of the concept of “terrorism”, which meets international standards, for which criminal liability is provided. Responsibility is also provided for crimes of a terrorist nature. In particular, “Failure to report information and facts about impending or committed terrorist acts”, “Training, travel or movement for the purpose of carrying out terrorist activities”, “Financing of terrorism”, “Encroachments on the constitutional order of the Republic of Uzbekistan”, “Creation, leadership, participation in religious extremist, separatist, fundamentalist or other banned organizations” and others.
It should be noted that criminal liability is provided for both the organizers and direct perpetrators of the preparation and commission of terrorist acts, and other persons directly or indirectly involved in them – instigators and accomplices.
The article “Training, leaving or moving for the purpose of carrying out terrorist activities” deserves special attention, it criminalizes and establishes responsibility for traveling abroad or moving through the territory of the Republic of Uzbekistan to participate in terrorist activities.
Representatives of 16 religious confessions live in peace and harmony in Uzbekistan. The state is taking exhaustive measures to prevent restrictions on their rights, incitement of enmity and hatred or insult to the religious feelings of citizens, desecration of revered religious places of worship.
In accordance with the Law “On Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations”, citizens of the country are guaranteed the constitutional right to profess any religion or not to profess any. Establishing any advantages or restrictions of one religion or creed in relation to others is not allowed.
In the republic, the established regulatory and legal framework fully ensures the rights of everyone to freedom of conscience and religion, the equality of citizens, regardless of their attitude to religion. Religious persecution of individuals is strictly prohibited by law.
At the same time, in order to counteract radical ideology, at the initiative of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, at the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly, the resolution “Enlightenment and Religious Tolerance” was adopted. Its main goal was to provide universal access to education, the elimination of illiteracy and ignorance.
In this direction, law enforcement agencies, together with relevant structures, public and religious organizations, are implementing a number of measures related to the preventing citizens from falling under the influence of emissaries of terrorist and extremist groups. Work in this area is implemented on the principle of “Enlightenment against ignorance”.
To reveal the truly humanistic essence of the Islamic religion, on the initiative of the head of state, the Center for Islamic Civilization, the Imam Bukhari International Scientific Research Centre in Samarkand were created in order to train qualified personnel, the Tashkent Islamic University was transformed into the International Islamic Academy of Uzbekistan.
The current national legislation of Uzbekistan, on the one hand, enshrines the humane attitude of the State towards persons who have violated the law, but who have realized their guilt and repented of what they have done, on the other hand, is an effective way to prevent the commission of terrorist acts and expose the activities of terrorist groups and neutralize them.
In 2017-2018 alone, more than 20,000 citizens who repented of committing crimes and returned to a peaceful way of life were deregistered as persons inclined to participate in the activities of terrorist, extremist or other prohibited organizations and groups. More than ten thousand of them received practical assistance in finding employment, social support and business development. According to the Decree of the President “On improving the procedure for the exemption from criminal liability of citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan who mistakenly found themselves as part of terrorist, extremist or other prohibited organizations and groups”, starting from November 2018, in order to provide citizens who, by mistake, found themselves in the composition of prohibited organizations and groups , including those who are outside of Uzbekistan, who realized the wrongfulness of their acts and embarked on the path of correction, a Republican interdepartmental commission was established to consider appeals from citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Led by the Prosecutor General, it considers applications for exemption from criminal liability of citizens who, by mistake, found themselves in the composition of banned organizations.
Another significant step in the rehabilitation of persons involved in religious extremist movements was the adoption of presidential decrees on pardoning persons serving sentences in penal colonies for committing crimes related to terrorist and extremist activities. Moreover, based on presidential decrees i 73 persons serving sentences in prison for committing crimes related to terrorism were pardoned in 2021
It should be noted that all of them received the necessary assistance and support from the State for their early deradicalization, social adaptation and reintegration into society. Thus, socio-legal, medical, psychological, and material assistance, loans have been allocated, issues related to housing, employment, admission of children to educational institutions and kindergartens have been resolved, household appliances have been transferred.
To de-radicalize this category of persons, a targeted approach is applied to each citizen, his marital status, existing problems, attitude to religion, especially is studied in its traditional form, explanatory work is carried out on the socio-political, socio-economic reforms being implemented in the country, including in the religious sphere. A set of measures is being taken to solve the identified problems, they are being trained in certain professions and employed, in general, the necessary measures are being taken to adapt and reintegrate into society as soon as possible.
The social situation of 7,101 persons previously involved in terrorist and extremist activities was studied in the regions of the country in 2021. As a result, 2,865 problems were identified, of which 2,637 were solved by joint efforts of state and public organizations. The rest are considered in the prescribed manner. Financial assistance was provided to 588 persons for 10.9 billion soums, 40 – loans were allocated, 93 – practical assistance was provided in establishing business activities, 36 – land plots were allocated, 87 – issues were resolved related to utilities, 187 – houses were repaired, 196 – were employed, 324 – medical assistance was provided, 680 people received other necessary assistance.
Effective measures are being taken against the financing of terrorism in the Republic. As well as its material and technical support is equated to one of the types of terrorist activity in the Republic of Uzbekistan, which is enshrined in article 2 of the Law “On Combating Terrorism”.
If an organization is found guilty of carrying out terrorist activities, including its financing, it is liable under article 29 of the Law “On Combating Terrorism”. Therefore, it is officially declared a terrorist organization and is liquidated because of a court decision. Upon liquidation, the property belonging to them becomes the property of the state. The same responsibility is borne by international organizations recognized by the Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan as terrorist, as well as their, branches and representative offices.
The Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan on countering the legalization of proceeds from criminal activity, the financing of terrorism and the financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was adopted in 2019,
In-depth work is being carried out to further improve the national system that counteracts the financing of terrorism. Measures have been taken to ensure that the regulatory framework in the field of countering money laundering and terrorist financing complies with the requirements of international standards, and the formation of an institutional framework that ensures the effective functioning of the national system for countering terrorist financing.
The Department for Combating Economic Crimes under the Prosecutor General’s Office has been designated as a body for countering the financing of terrorism. He has the right to carry out a direct exchange of information with the competent authorities of foreign countries. The Department is a full member of the Egmont Group, which unites the financial intelligence services of 167 states.
By the relevant decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, an Interdepartmental Commission on countering the legalization of proceeds from criminal activity, the financing of terrorism and the financing of the proliferation of weapons of Mass Destruction was established in 2018 under the leadership of the Deputy Prosecutor General. As part of its activities, three laws, 24 by-laws, 25 interdepartmental, 36 departmental and 12 international documents were adopted.