Free Speech Under Threat in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan’s parliament is considering worrying amendments to the country’s Criminal and Administrative Codes, and to its Informatization Regulationthat would threaten the right to free speech.

On February 12, the head of the Milliy Tiklanish (National Revival) party, Alisher Qodirov, whose party helped draft the billpublished excerpts of it and informed his Telegram channel subscribers that the bill had already been adopted in its first reading in parliament. A February 15 statement on the bill by the Oily Mazhlis, Uzbekistan’s parliament, provided some extra context, including that legislators need to improve sanctions for disseminating data that allegedly threatens state safety.

Unacceptably, the draft legislation nonetheless hasn’t been published in full, so we don’t know what different provisions are in there. However these elements which have been made public, there may be good cause to be involved.

One proposed modification to the Informatization Regulation would prohibit bloggers and web site house owners from calling for participation in protests “in violation of the established order.” One other would punish the distribution of knowledge “expressed in an indecent type that displays disrespect for society, the state, state symbols (nationwide and common values),” and one other would punish dissemination of false data that threatens public order and safety.

A number of the proposed modifications are so vaguely worded and broad, they’d inevitably violate rights protected below worldwide human rights legislationtogether with the fitting to free speech and peaceable meeting.

Uzbek lawmakers ought to keep in mind that human rights legislation protects speech that offends, shocks, and disturbs, and that punitive, and specifically legal measures, ought to solely ever be used to limit speech that promotes imminent violence or hostility.

Uzbekistan’s Justice Minister, Ruslanbek Davletov, this week called on Oily Mazhlis deputies to submit the draft legislation to the Justice Ministry for evaluate and hinted that such legal guidelines needs to be revealed for dialogue.

If Uzbekistan actually desires to hitch the ranks of rights-respecting international locations, its management ought to reform its legal guidelines so they’re suitable with worldwide human rights norms and finish the opaque and inaccessible course of by which laws at the moment will get adopted within the nation.

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