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Uzbekistan: UN rights expert in first visit

GENEVA (18 September 2019) – UN Special Rapporteur Diego García-Sayán will carry out an official visit to Uzbekistan from 19 to 25 September 2019 to assess measures adopted by the Government to ensure the independence of judges and prosecutors and the free exercise of the legal profession.

Since President Mirziyoyev took office in September 2016, Uzbekistan has embarked on far-reaching reforms of the justice system.

“During my visit, I intend to establish a constructive dialogue with the Government on the judicial reforms to assess their consistency with international human rights standards, such as the independence of the judiciary and the principle of separation of powers,” García-Sayán said.

“Within the justice system, judges, prosecutors and lawyers must be able to carry out their professional activities freely and must be protected, in law and in practice, from any threat, interference or pressure in the exercise of their duties.”

Judicial councils play an essential role in guaranteeing the independence and the autonomy of the judiciary. “I welcome the creation of the Supreme Judicial Council in 2017 as an independent body with a broad mandate to promote and protect judicial independence, and would like to offer practical recommendations on how to strengthen this body, which is responsible for the selection, appointment, training and discipline of judges.

“I also intend to assess the legal guarantees in place to ensure the independent functioning of the legal profession and, in particular, the independence of the Bar Association from Government and other executive bodies,” said García-Sayán, who has already devoted a thematic report to the vital role that bar associations play in the organisation and safeguarding of the independence and integrity of the legal profession and its members.

During his visit, the UN expert will meet Government officials and legislative authorities, as well as judges, prosecutors and lawyers. He will also have meetings with representatives of civil society, academics, UN agencies, donors and the diplomatic community.

At the end of the visit on Wednesday 25 September 2019, García-Sayán will hold a press conference to present his preliminary observations. It will be held at 10:15 local time at the International Press Club of Uzbekistan (Toshkent shahar, Shayxontohur tumani, Olmazor ko‘chasi, 2-uy).

The Special Rapporteur will present a comprehensive report containing his findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in Geneva in June 2020.

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