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UNICEF Statement on the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan on the reform of judicial-legal system and enhancement of guarantees of rights and freedoms of citizens

Print version
27 October 2016

TASHKENT, 27 October 2016 — UNICEF Country Office in Uzbekistan appreciates the issuing the recent Decree on the reforms of the judicial-legal system and enhancement of guarantees of the rights and freedoms of citizens. Enhancement of access to justice; strengthening protection of rights and freedoms; liberalization of criminal punishments; and alternatives to deprivation of liberty in the Decree are at the core of the main international agendas: human rights and rule of law.

It is commendable that the Decree specifically requires respective governmental agencies to prepare concepts on enhancing judicial legal system of protection the rights of children in Uzbekistan.

Recently conducted review of national legislation and judicial practices in light with international justice for children standards informs that Uzbekistan has already made significant progress in development of laws and practices to promote access to justice for children, and is committed to further develop a fully specialised child justice system. In both criminal and civil proceedings, generally children are provided with legal guarantees that take into consideration their rights and needs. Steps are also to be taken to create more child-sensitive and conducive environment for children to actively and effectively participate in the justice process.

Based on the findings and recommendations of above mentioned legal review, UNICEF recommends including the following guarantees relating to children’s access to justice in the agenda of discussions and amendments to national legislation:

  • General guarantees and enforcement of child rights: In line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child to envisage introduction of the principle of «the best interests of the child» into national legislation as well as to develop a resolution providing detailed guidance to the court, commission on minors and guardianship/trusteeship authorities on child-friendly procedures for receiving, examining and taking appropriate actions to remedy a child rights violation in the best interests of the child.
  • Child victims and witnesses in criminal proceedings: to strengthen protection for all child victims and witnesses under 18 years old participating in the justice process. In particular, to ensure that children are accompanied by a parent or other support person at all stages of criminal proceedings. Other recommendations include to provide free legal assistance; to limit the number and duration of interviews; to ensure closed court proceedings and protection of privacy; and the use of child-friendly interview rooms.
  • Children in conflict with the law: to expand existing provisions of the Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code to introduce diversion, to explicitly incorporate the principle of deprivation of liberty as a last resort, to provide for child-friendly courtroom environment and procedures and to expand the types of alternatives to deprivation of liberty. Recommendations also envisage elimination of placement in a specialized educational institutions as a juvenile delinquency prevention measure for children who have not committed a crime, and re-orient them as institutions with an open or semi-open regimes.
  • Children in civil proceedings: to make amendments into national legislation in order to provide greater guidance on child-sensitive procedures for child under the age of 18, to make the appointment of a defence lawyer mandatory in any case where the interests of the child conflict with his or her parents and to provide more guidance for civil court judges for consideration of cases involving children rights and interests.

UNICEF reaffirms its commitment to support and provide all necessary technical assistance to the Government of Uzbekistan in ensuring the application of international norms and standards for all children who come into contact with justice systems as victims, witnesses and alleged offenders, or where administrative or judicial interventions are needed regarding their care and custody or protection.

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