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Death penalty abolished in Uzbekistan starting 1 January 2008

Press Release ¹1

Pursuant to the Decree of the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov of 1 August 2005 "On abolition of the death penalty in the Republic of Uzbekistan", the death penalty was abolished in the country starting 1 January 2008.

The beginning of the New Year was marked by important landmark events in the life of the Uzbek nation and the country. Conducted on 23 December 2007 based on the principles of openness, transparency and objectivity the Presidential elections have served as "a school of democracy and became a new step in building a free democratic state and a civil society in Uzbekistan, a country where the highest value is attributed to the interests and rights of its people" (from the New Year's congratulatory speech of President Karimov).

Thus according to the Presidential Decree the death penalty has been abolished in Uzbekistan starting 1 January 2008. This form of punishment was replaced with life sentence, which can now be applied to two types of crimes only - premeditated murder with aggravating circumstances and terrorism. At the same time, life sentence is not applicable to women, people under the age of 18, and men above the age of 60.

Foreign experts and local specialists admit to the fact that the Uzbek government's criminal punishment policy ideally corresponds to the contemporary trends observed internationally and is based on the principle of humanism as stated in the Constitution of the country. President Karimov said this measure also corresponding to the spiritual values of the Uzbek nation that has always viewed human life as the highest value.

It should also be noted that the abolition of the death penalty is one of the results of the gradual legal reforms being implemented in the country. At the same time, it is worth noting that the Presidential Decree of 1 August 2005 "On abolition of the death penalty in the Republic of Uzbekistan" has become an important step on the way to protecting the constitutional rights and freedoms of a human being – on the way to effectively protecting the human right for life.
Pursuant to the decree, concerned ministries and agencies have been working on development and consistent implementation of the appropriate measures intended at meeting the objectives set by the country's leader. Passed on 29 June 2006 the Presidential Order "On additional measures to prepare the legislative and regulatory-legal acts to be passed in view of the abolition of the death penalty in the Republic of Uzbekistan" has become an important factor in ensuring the efficiency of work carried out in this direction.

Attention should also be given to the fact that the government has arranged large-scale explanatory, awareness-raising work to let the population know about the liberalization of the criminal legislation, particularly abolition of the death penalty. Also taking into account the fact that from the very early ages in the history people used death as a common punishment for crimes, it becomes clear how important it is to take into account the attitude of the whole population to this form of punitive measure.

Several laws were amended to provide the legal framework for the removal of the death penalty from the system of criminal punishments and its replacement with life sentence or long-term imprisonment. The Law "On introduction of amendments and addenda to certain legislative acts of the Republic of Uzbekistan in view of the abolition of the death penalty" ratified on 29 June 2007 by the Senate of Oliy Majlis, being the main regulatory document stipulating the execution of the Presidential decree determined the procedure for the decision on and execution of this forms of punishment.
The exclusion of the death penalty from the system of punishments has become a practical expression of the government's position in this field. It was received with great support by the Uzbek nation as the government's expression of humanism. Uzbekistan's confident steps in this direction are also positively received and appraised by the world community.

Pursuant to the Presidential Decree of 8 August 2005 "On the transfer of the right to issue arrest sanctions to courts", this function has been delegated to courts starting 1 January 2008. This has also become one of the practical results of the consistent reforms being implemented in the legal system of the country.

It is commonly known that one of the most important objectives in liberalization of the judicial-legal system is the expansion of the courts' authority and intensification of the judicial supervision over the protection of citizens' constitutional rights and freedoms at the pre-trial and investigation stages. In this sense, special attention is given to the transfer of the right to issue arrest sanctions from the prosecutor's offices to courts.

Of course equally careful approach was taken in the process of gradual and consistent transfer of the right to apply procedural-coercive actions related to the limitation of the constitutional rights and freedoms of a human being to courts. Particular attention was given to detailed development of all organizational-legal aspects, and the required preparation of the judicial system and other concerned law agencies and the prosecutor's offices to these changes.

In other words, this innovation once again confirms the fact that all target measures being implemented in Uzbekistan on the initiative of the head of state to strengthen independence and freedom of the judicial branch of government are carried out based on the principle of consistency. An absolutely new legal system has been formed in the country; the legal framework for the independence of the judicial branch of government has been created.

And most importantly, these sort of historical events always brightly and evidently confirm the highest value of independence. Because only owing to independence a man's life and his rights are raised to the level of the highest values.

The main idea, the main aim behind modernization of the country and the large-scale democratic reforms aimed at renewal of the society is the principle of "reforms for the people, for the protection of their interests!"

London, 5 January 2008
 

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