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The system of government in the Republic of Uzbekistan is presidential, with a Parliament elected by universal suffrage (hereinafter also "Oliy Majlis" or "Supreme Assembly"). The Constitution was proclaimed on 8 December 1992 and divides State power between the executive, legislative and the judicial branches. The Uzbek Constitution (hereinafter "the Constitution" or "UC") declares the republic as a pluralistic democracy with the people of Uzbekistan as the only source of State power (Article 7, UC). Uzbekistan consists of 12 regions wiloyaltar and one autonomous republic (Republic of Karkalpakstan). The Republic of Karkalpakstan has its own Constitution, however, which may not contradict the Constitution of Uzbekistan.

The Head of State and the head of the executive, is the President. As a result of the referendum held in 2002, the term of office of the President was extended from five years to seven. According to the letter of the Constitution, the President is elected by popular vote. The Constitution vests the President with extensive powers. Amongst others, these powers include appointment and dismissal from office of judges of regional, district, city and commercial courts (Art. 93 (11)). As well as, declaring states of emergency and importantly, issuing decrees, resolutions and orders which have obligatory force over the entire territory of Uzbekistan (Art. 94 UC).

The Constitution ascribes legislative power to the Uzbek Parliament comprising of 250 seats, with members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms. The parliament meets only a few days per year. The Law "On the Status of Deputies in the Republic of Uzbekistan" organizes the work of the Parliament. This law defines powers of a deputy of the Oliy Majlis, determines his or her relationship with political parties and local authorities, rights and responsibilities within the Parliament as well as within territorial constituencies.

According to the 1992 Constitution the Parliament is unicameral, however, in accordance with the amendments introduced by the referendum in 2002, the structure of the Parliament is to change to bi-cameral with the next parliamentary elections which are due in December 2004. It is planned that the lower chamber of the new bi-cameral parliament will be elected by popular vote and will be responsible for drafting legislation, whereas, the upper chamber (constituting of representatives from the regions of Uzebkistan) will be elected by government bodies. The government will be responsible only to the upper chamber. All legislation drafted by the lower chamber will need to be passed by the upper chamber to become law. The size of the new chambers was not established at the time of the referendum.

Currently, there are 13 committees and 3 commissions in the Parliament. The authorized person of the Oliy Majlis on Human Rights (Ombudsman) is elected from amongst the deputies of the Parliament to coordinate the work of the Commission on observation of constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens (which was formed on a voluntary basis). There is no provision in the Constitution on the Office of the Ombudsman.

Executive power is assigned to the President and a Cabinet of Ministers appointed by the President with approval of the Oliy Majlis (Art 98 UC). The Cabinet is tasked with ensuring the implementation of laws and other decision of the Parliament and the decrees, resolutions, and orders of the President. The Cabinet of Ministers is also vested with delegated legislative powers and it may also issue resolutions and orders, having the force of law (Art.98 UC).

In accordance with Article 82 of the Constitution, the right of legislative initiative belongs to the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Republic of Karakalpakstan in the form of its highest agency of power, parliamentary deputies, the Cabinet of Ministers, the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court, the High Commercial Court, and the Procurator General of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The parliament adopts laws and other normative acts by a majority of votes of the total number of deputies (Art. 83 UC). The Oliy Majlis is in session for only a few days each year. Therefore, in accordance with the powers of the President to issue decrees having the force of law as enshrined in Art. 94 of the Constitution, the majority of laws come into force by way of Presidential decree.

Constitutionally, judicial power is vested in the courts. The principle of independence of the judiciary from both the legislative and executive branches of government has been written into to Art.106, of the Constitution. The judiciary consists of a Constitutional Court, a Supreme Court, a High Commercial Court, a Supreme and High Commercial Court of the Republic of Karakalpastan, as well as regional, Taskent City, district, city, and commercial courts. All judges, including those sitting on the bench of the Constitutional Court are elected for a term of five years (Art. 107 UC). Judges are nominated by the President and elected by Parliament. The President also wields the power of removal of judges from the bench.

TheConstitutional Court of Uzbekistan is tasked with reviewing the constitutionality of all legislative and executive acts. The court does not consider claims made by private persons. Claims may only be filed by the executive or legislative branches of government. Article 93 (10), of the Constitution grants the President the right to nominate potential members of the Constitutional Court and present them to parliament for election. Upon resignation of his office, the President may assume a lifetime seat on the Court under Article 97 of the Constitution.

The Constitution devotes numerous provisions to establishing fundamental rights and freedoms. However, the Constitution also contains a number of caveats, which permit restriction by the government on these rights. (see: Article 57 of the Constitution, which forbids operation of political parties, social associations, for reasons which amongst others include being against "health and morality of the people" and which constitutes a caveat over Art. 33 and 34 of the Constitution).

The current legal system in Uzbekistan is an evolution of Soviet civil law.

ODIHR Legal Reviews, Assessments

Variety of useful resources and tools prepared by ODIHR to support legal reform in OSCE participating States. It includes legal reviews of draft and exisiting national legislation and assessments of legislative process.



The Draft Law with proposed amendments to the Criminal Code, Criminal Procedure Code and Criminal Enforcement Code intends to regulate corporate criminal liability in Uzbekistan. The opinion welcomes efforts that have been undertaken to introduce corporate criminal liability in the Criminal Code. The opinion observes that from the manner in which the proposed amendments are drafted, it is unclear whether all the fair trial guarantees and protections offered to individuals are applicable to legal entities. Further, the personal scope for attributing criminal liability to a legal person is not very clearly regulated which is not in line with the principle of legal certainty and foreseeability of criminal legislation.

The opinion also notes that the scope of criminal offences for which the liability of legal persons may be incurred, which is limited to corruption-related offences should be broadened and that a number of adjustments should be considered to enhance the effectiveness of the legal framework, including with respect to interim measures, contemplated sanctions and to ensure the extra-territorial application to criminal offences committed abroad.


The independence of the judiciary is a fundamental principle and an essential element of any democratic state based on the rule of law and an integral part of the fundamental democratic principle of the separation of powers. Ensuring the independence and impartiality of a court or tribunal is as much a matter of principle as it is a matter of management. 

It is welcome that Uzbekistan has taken steps to formulate and streamline principles intended to guide judicial bodies and their independent functioning in accordance with their respective mandates. The Concept Note and the Draft of the “Universal Principles of the Activity of the Judicial Councils” distinguishes between general and special principles for this purpose. At the same time the manner in which these principles are drafted, the structure and terminology used raise serious concerns as to the compatibility of these Draft Principles with existing standards and, ultimately, impair their practicality.

The principles should be neutral, objective and above all be formulated and understood from the perspective of existing international principles pertaining to judicial or similar bodies.


ODIHR welcomes the legislative initiative of the Ombudsperson of Uzbekistan as it seeks to reform its National Human Rights Institution, in compliance with United Nations Principles relating to the Status of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. There are some positive provisions in the Draft Law, specifically the explicit reference to the independence of the Ombudsperson, the high standing of the Ombudsperson in the country provided for by the Draft Law, and provisions on the institution’s promotion and protection functions. At the same time, the Draft Law would benefit from amendments to ensure important aspects pertaining to the NHRI and its functioning, especially those at the core of the institution’s basic guarantees of independence, as well as to ensure full compliance with the Paris Principles. In particular, provisions for the selection and appointment procedures of the Ombudsperson, Deputy Ombudsperson and Regional Representatives require clarification. Broad and unclear provisions on the dismissal process may undermine the security of tenure of the Ombudsperson. Additional safeguards are needed to strengthen the provisions for fin

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Summary: At the outset, the establishment of an Anti-Corruption Agency is a commendable step and could have a positive effect in the fight against corruption in Uzbekistan. However, anti-corruption agencies require a stable legislative framework and it is therefore recommended to establish the Agency through a special law or due a constitutional provision. The recommendations established in these Urgent Comments are valid for any legal act establishing the Agency. Should establishment by Decree be maintained, the recommendations also remain valid. Functional autonomy and effectiveness of the Agency should be ensured, it lacks necessary dualization and clarity with respect to powers and procedures, and in overall seems not meet many standards of the UN Convention against Corruption and the Jakarta Statement on Principles for Anti-Corruption Agencies (Jakarta Principles). The Agency seems to lack institutional and financial autonomy, as well as a robust mandate, clearly defined powers internal and external accountability.


Summary: The Draft Decree commendably aims to completely overhaul the institution of the advocacy, to improve the quality and of the number of advocates in the country which have previously been criticized due to lack of independence of the Chamber of Advocates and the low number of lawyers compared to the population of Uzbekistan.  To achieve this, the Draft Decree determines concrete changes. In view of coming legislation and to avoid substituting primary legislation, the Draft Decree should limit itself to outlining, in broad strokes, what needs to be changed, indicating which bodies shall be tasked with drafting further strategies and developing ways forward.


Summary: ODIHR concludes that the Law raises numerous serious concerns with regard to its compatibility with international human rights standards and has the potential to unduly restrict the full range of human rights, particularly the rights to life, liberty and security of person, privacy, freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief and equality. An overarching concern raised in the Opinion pertains to the legal definitions of “terrorism” and related terms in the Law, which require amendment in order to clarify their scope and comply with the principles of legal certainty and foreseeability. Also, the counter-terrorism powers conferred by the Law to public authorities are far-reaching, yet there is currently no clear legislative framework to regulate and limit them, clearly specifying the circumstances and conditions when such powers may be used, to what end, and subject to what procedures and safeguards. 

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Variety of useful resources and tools prepared by ODIHR to support legal reform in OSCE participating States. It includes legal reviews of draft and exisiting national legislation and assessments of legislative process.

Show all 6 more documents


Criminal codes

National legislative acts on a range of human dimension issues. It offers access to full-text documents, as well as summaries of and excerpts from national constitutions, primary and secondary legislation and case-law from across the OSCE region.


Primary and Secondary

National legislative acts on a range of human dimension issues. It offers access to full-text documents, as well as summaries of and excerpts from national constitutions, primary and secondary legislation and case-law from across the OSCE region.

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International standards

National legislative acts on a range of human dimension issues. It offers access to full-text documents, as well as summaries of and excerpts from national constitutions, primary and secondary legislation and case-law from across the OSCE region.

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Case law subline. Status of Ratification of the Main International Human Rights Treaties, Conventions and other instruments. International Case-law for selected topics.


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