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TITLE:  UZBEKISTAN HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995










                           UZBEKISTAN


Three years after declaring independence, Uzbekistan, while 
having taken significant steps toward economic market reform, 
has made little progress in the transition from its 
authoritarian legacy toward democracy.  President Karimov and 
the centralized executive branch which serves him are the 
dominant forces in political life.

The President heads the People's Democratic Party of Uzbekistan 
(PDP).  One other party, the Fatherland Progress Party, is 
legally registered, but it was created by a presidential 
adviser, presumably to give the appearance of a multiparty 
system, and, although it supports the President, it fielded 
candidates to oppose the PDP in most parliamentary districts.  
The Government continued severely to repress genuine opposition 
parties and movements, despite its frequently stated commitment 
to multiparty democracy.  It justifies its repressive policy by 
invoking the specter of Islamic fundamentalism, the civil 
strife that has plagued neighboring Tajikistan, and possible 
opposition preparations for armed struggle.

The National Security Service (NSS--formerly the Committee for 
State Security, or KGB) deals with a broad range of national 
security questions--including corruption, organized crime, and 
narcotics control--but continues to be one of the main organs 
for suppression of the opposition.  The Ministry of the Interior
prosecutes domestic crimes and often plays the lead role in 
investigating cases against political opposition figures.

The economy is based primarily on agriculture and agricultural 
processing; Uzbekistan is the world's fourth largest producer 
of cotton.  It also has large deposits of gold, strategic 
minerals, gas, and oil.  The Government has proclaimed its 
commitment to a gradual transition to a mixed government-owned 
and free market economy and introduced in February a package of 
reforms to stimulate private enterprise, promote private 
ownership, encourage privatization of state enterprises, and 
attract foreign investment.  Thousands of private small farms 
were created in 1994.  By the end of 1984, the Government had 
undertaken reform and stabilization measures recommended by the 
International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Government observance of human rights did not significantly 
advance in 1994.  To control the political arena, the 
Government continued to deny registration to political parties 
and some other social groups, which legally may not function 
until they are duly registered.  It continued to suppress 
unregistered opposition parties and movements and severely 
limited distribution of opposition literature.  It continued to 
ban unsanctioned meetings and demonstrations.  Security forces 
detained or arrested opposition activists on false charges, 
particularly in the early part of the year.  Police often beat 
criminal suspects and detainees.  Although the Constitution 
expressly prohibits it, press censorship continued, and freedom 
of expression was constrained by an atmosphere of repression 
which made it difficult to criticize the Government publicly.  
There continues to be significant discrimination and violence 
against women.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1     Respect for Integrity of the Person, Including 
              Freedom from:

    a.   Political and Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of political or extrajudicial killings.

    b.   Disappearance

There are no known cases of abductions by official forces or 
politically motivated disappearances.

    c.   Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

There were credible reports that police often beat criminal 
suspects while taking them into custody or in the period 
between arrest and trial.  Birlik (Unity) movement leader Pulat 
Akhunov was beaten during incarceration, and he stated that the 
prison administration frequently placed him in solitary 
confinement.  Atanazar Aripov, an Erk (Freedom) Party leader, 
stated that he was kept in solitary confinement for most of the 
time he was in prison.

Prison conditions are inadequate and worse for male than for 
female prisoners, with severe overcrowding.  Political 
prisoners are often not allowed visitors or any other direct 
form of contact with family and friends.  The families of 
Atanazar Aripov and Erk member Salavat Umarzakov, two 
defendants in the Melli Majlis (alternative parliament) 
political trial in 1993 who were imprisoned in 1994 after their 
suspended sentences were revoked, were unable to meet or 
communicate with them until their release from prison.  The six 
Erk Party activists being tried for the distribution of banned 
newspapers were only released from the basement of NSS 
headquarters and permitted to see their relatives during court 
sessions.

    d.   Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Laws on detention have not changed since independence.  
According to the law, police may hold a person suspected of 
committing a crime for up to 3 days.  At the end of this 
period, the suspect must be either officially charged or 
released.  A procurator's order is required for arrests but not 
for detentions.  A court case must be scheduled within 15 days 
of the arrest, and the defendant may be detained during this 
period.  A defendant may not have access to counsel while in 
detention but only after formal arrest.

The legal provision permitting detention without the filing of 
charges led to several cases in which opposition figures were 
detained for questioning and then released without prosecution.
The Government used this provision to harass and restrict the 
actions of opposition figures.  For example, during the June 
2-4 visit to Uzbekistan by U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, four 
opposition activists were detained to prevent them from meeting 
him.  They were released following his departure.

In some cases, opposition figures were arrested on false 
charges for offenses unrelated to their criticism of government 
policy, such as drug possession, weapons possession, or 
disorderliness.  Vasilya Inoyatova, one of the three activists 
held in jail to prevent their attendance at a human rights 
conference in Almaty, Kazakhstan, in May, was retroactively 
charged with insulting a policeman.  Mikhail Ardzinov, another 
activist held, was charged with hooliganism.  Mamadan 
Makhmudov, Uzbek writer and friend of Erk leader Mohammed 
Solikh, was arrested for possessing a pistol believed planted 
by police.  Makhmudov was also charged with narcotics 
possession, abuse of government position and misappropriation 
of government funds.  Nasrullah Saidov, Erk secretary in 
Bukhara, was arrested for possessing a grenade reportedly found 
among his children's clothing, as well as Erk newspapers.  Erk 
activist Saparboy Bekchanov was convicted in February for 
allegedly stealing a rare coin to finance Erk.  Nosir Zokir, 
Erk chairman of the Namangan region, and Atmatkhan Turakhanov, 
Erk chairman of the city of Namangan, were arrested on charges 
of possessing weapons and drugs.

    e.   Denial of Fair Public Trial

Under the Constitution, the President appoints all judges for 
10-year terms.  They may be removed for crimes or failure to 
fulfill their obligations.  Power to remove judges for failure 
to fulfill their obligations rests with the President, except 
for Supreme Court judges, whose removal must also be confirmed 
by Parliament.  No judges are known to have been removed for 
political reasons.  In political cases, government direction 
influences the judiciary.

Uzbekistan still uses the Soviet judiciary system which 
features trial by a panel of three judges:  one professional 
judge and two "people's assessors" who are chosen by the 
workers' collectives for a period of 2 1/2 years.  The 
professional judge presides and directs the proceedings.

There is a three-tier court system:  the people's court on the 
district level, the regional courts, and the Supreme Court.  
District court decisions may be appealed to the next higher 
level within 10 days of the ruling.  The new draft criminal 
code reduces the list of crimes punishable by death to murder, 
espionage, and treason, eliminating the economic crimes 
punishable by death in the former Soviet code.  Officially and 
in recent practice, most court cases are open to the public but 
may be closed in exceptional cases, such as those involving 
state secrets, rape, or young defendants.  When the probations 
of Aripov and Umarzakov were revoked, there were no observers 
present.  Aripov's family did not know the exact grounds for 
the revocation of his probation until he was released 8 months 
later.

Defendants have the right to attend the proceedings, confront 
witnesses, and present evidence.  The State will provide a 
lawyer without charge, but by law the accused has the right to 
hire an attorney.  In some political cases, the defendants have 
not had access to lawyers.  For example, when the suspended 
sentences of Atanazar Aripov and Salavat Muradov were revoked, 
they did not have the opportunity to hire a lawyer to assist in 
their defense.

Detainees deemed not to be violent may be released on their own 
recognizance pending trial.  No money need be posted as bond, 
but in such cases the accused must usually sign a pledge not to 
leave the city.

The Government denies that there are any political prisoners in 
Uzbekistan.  However, by all evidence, the Government does hold 
political prisoners.  Several opposition members are being held 
for "antigovernment activities" (distributing Erk newspapers).  
In the cases of Makhmudov, Saidov, Bekchanov, and Turakhanov, 
the evidence strongly suggests that they are political 
prisoners (see Section l.d.).  Aripov and Zokir were held under 
similar charges until their release by presidential decree in 
November.  In addition, Pulat Akhunov and Erk chairman in the 
Fergana region Inamjan Tursunov are opposition activists who 
were released by the same presidential decree from sentences 
imposed in 1992 under similar circumstances.  There is not 
enough reliable information available to determine whether 
other prisoners are jailed for political offenses.

    f.   Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

By law, search warrants issued by a procurator are required.  
There is no provision for judicial review of search warrants.  
There does not appear to be a legal mechanism for authorizing 
telephone tapping or monitoring.  Security agencies nonetheless 
monitor telephone calls, and there is evidence that they employ 
surveillance and wiretap telephones in the cases of persons 
involved in opposition political activities.  Certain high-
profile opposition activists were the subject of very visible 
surveillance, including round-the-clock police monitoring of 
all movements.

Section 2     Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

    a.   Freedom of Speech and Press

Freedom of speech remained severely limited.  The fear of 
expressing views critical of the President and the Government 
persisted as the Government continued its general crackdown on 
all forms of opposition.  A February 15, 1991, law (before 
independence) against "offending the honor and dignity of the 
President" limits the ability to criticize the President.

Although the Constitution prohibits censorship, it is widely 
practiced, and the Government tolerates little, if any, 
criticism of its actions.  Newspapers may not be printed 
without the censor's approval.  Journalists and writers who 
want to ensure that their work is published report that they 
practice self-censorship.

The Uzbekistan Information Agency cooperates closely with the 
presidential staff to prepare and distribute all officially 
sanctioned news and information.  Press reports from Moscow and 
Uzbekistan media sources allege that the presidential staff has 
advised newspaper editors in chief to limit strictly their 
contact with American and some European diplomats.  Nearly all 
of Uzbekistan's newspapers are government owned and controlled; 
the key papers are organs of government ministries.  State 
enterprises control the printing presses.

The last opposition newspaper to be published was the paper of 
the Erk Party.  In January 1993, the newspaper was banned and 
has not been published in Uzbekistan since then.  Attempts to 
smuggle in copies of the newspaper from outside the country 
resulted in several arrests and confiscation of the 
newspapers.  On March 3, following a nationwide search of the 
homes of Erk activists, eight members of the Erk presidium were 
arrested on charges of distributing antigovernment literature 
when copies of banned Erk newspapers were found in their 
homes.  Ismail Adylov and a companion were arrested for 
possession of Erk newspapers on August 4 in Tashkent.  Birlik 
leader Vasilya Inoyatova was charged in the same incident for 
accepting the newspapers.

The Government forbade the distribution of foreign newspapers 
critical of Uzbekistan.  The publication of the local editions 
of Izvestia and Pravda and the sale of the Moscow editions 
remained suspended throughout 1994.  All newspapers, magazines, 
and weeklies have to be registered, a procedure which includes 
providing information about the sources of funding, means of 
distribution, founders, and sponsors.  A resolution of the 
Cabinet of Ministers banned private persons and journalists' 
collectives were banned from founding newspapers or magazines.  
Foreign correspondents based in Tashkent reported that the 
security services harassed and threatened their translators and 
other employees after the correspondents posed questions at 
government press conferences and published articles abroad 
which displeased the Government.  In October the Government 
refused to renew the accreditation of Steven Le Vine, a 
free-lance journalist for several U.S. publications and one of 
the few foreign journalists in Uzbekistan, reportedly because 
of articles he wrote critical of the President and of the 
Government's human rights record.

Television broadcasting is state controlled.  Although there 
are local stations in various regions, nationwide programming 
is carried on two state-run channels that fully support the 
Government and its policies.  Through an agreement with Russia, 
two Moscow channels were broadcast as well.  The Russian 
channels were Ostankino and Russian Television (Rossiskaya 
Televideniya).  In 1994 the Government canceled the latter 
channel, and shortened the broadcast hours of the Ostankino 
channel full-time to only evening broadcasts.  Its news 
broadcasts are blacked out when they are critical of the Uzbek 
Government.  Radio Liberty, the Voice of America, and the 
British Broadcasting Corporation are among the few sources of 
uncontrolled news, although there have been unconfirmed reports 
that the Government occasionally interferes with Radio Liberty 
broadcasts.

There are no private publishing houses, and government approval 
is required for all publications.  In an attempt to circumvent 
the requirements of state-controlled publishing, Erk party 
supporters attempted to smuggle in a pamphlet of its leader's 
speeches as well as its newspaper.

Political repression enveloped academia as well.  In March 
Tashkent State University expelled three students from the 
journalism department after they questioned the Government's 
press treatment of Erk leader Mohammed Solikh.  In addition, it 
closed the department of journalism and folded a few of its 
functions into the Uzbek philology department.  However, in 
November the journalism department was reinstituted.  Also, the 
three students expelled in the spring reentered the University 
in the fall semester without incident.  In Samarkand the 
Government unsuccessfully attempted to have local Erk leader 
Suleiman Muratov fired from his teaching job after a police 
search discovered copies of the banned Erk newspaper at his 
house.  The Government has not allowed independent academic 
institutions to register.

    b.   Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The 1992 Constitution states that the authorities have the 
right to suspend or ban rallies, meetings, and demonstrations 
on security grounds.  The Government must sanction 
demonstrations and does not routinely grant this permission.  
After cordons of militia prevented attempts to hold 
unsanctioned demonstrations in 1992, the opposition made no 
attempts to hold public meetings during 1993 or 1994.

The Government also limited the exercise of freedom of 
association by refusing to register opposition political 
parties and movements.  The Constitution provides no general 
guarantees of freedom of association; it places broad 
limitations on the types of groups that may form and requires 
that all organizations be formally registered with the 
Government.  The Government frequently and seemingly without 
legal basis denies such registration to groups in any way 
opposed to the established order.  To be considered a public 
association, organizations must be registered in accordance 
with the procedure prescribed by law.

To register, a party must submit a list of at least 3,000 
members and meet other requirements, such as providing an 
official address.  Government control over buildings and office 
space limits the ability of unofficial groups to obtain an 
official address.  The Government has repeatedly denied the 
Birlik movement permission to register as a party, first 
claiming irregularities on its membership list, then 
complaining about the group's name, and finally noting its lack 
of an official address.

A 1993 Cabinet of Ministers decree required all public 
organizations and political parties officially registered in 
Uzbekistan to reregister by October 1, 1993, or be suspended.  
This decree provided a quasi-legal mechanism for the 
elimination of various organizations that were already 
registered.  The mainstream PDP and Fatherland Progress Party 
applied for and quickly received their reregistration.  The Erk 
Party did not submit papers, holding that the decree was 
unconstitutional as only the Supreme Court has the right to 
withdraw registration.  The Government considers both the Erk 
Party and the Birlik movement to have officially lost their 
registration in 1993 because they failed to meet the 
requirements of the 1993 decree.

Nonpolitical associations and social organizations usually do 
not encounter comparable difficulties in registering, and the 
number of such groups expanded in 1994.  Some evangelical 
churches and several foreign humanitarian assistance groups 
found it difficult to obtain registration or reregistration.

    c.   Freedom of Religion

the Constitution provides for freedom of religion and for the 
principle of separation of religion and state.  After the 
enforced atheism of the Soviet period, religious communities 
are experiencing a significant revival.  Religious education is 
becoming more widespread, although it is not included in state 
schools.

While Islam is the religion of the majority, ethnic minorities 
may also practice their religion in relative freedom.  
Synagogues for the Jewish community are openly functioning; 
Hebrew education (long banned under the Soviets), Jewish 
cultural events, and the publication of a community newspaper 
take place undisturbed.  Churches have been returned to their 
ethnic communities and openly function within them.

However, tensions arise when churches attempt to convert across 
ethnic lines, especially when they attempt to convert members 
of generally Muslim ethnic groups to Christianity.

Although distribution of religious literature is legal in 
Uzbekistan, missionary activity and proselytizing is not.  One 
evangelical church, Word of Faith, lost its registration for 
conducting missionary activities, and all churches are under 
pressure not to evangelize among Uzbeks.  In reaction to 
antimissionary sentiments, for a short period of time in the 
summer of 1994 the Tashkent city government stopped allowing 
churches to rent its property, specifically auditoriums and 
other gathering places.

The Constitution and a December 1991 amendment to the law on 
political parties ban those of a religious nature.  This 
principle is cited for denying registration to religious 
parties, including the Islamic Renaissance Party.

Fearing the destabilizing influence of extremist Islamic 
forces, the Government has tried to temper the extent of this 
spiritual renaissance by controlling the Islamic hierarchy, the 
content of imams' sermons, and the extent and substance of 
Islamic materials published in Uzbekistan.

    d.   Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

The Constitution provides for free movement within the country 
and across its borders.  In January 1995, the Government began 
to issue new passports to everyone over age 16, which will 
replace the old system of separate internal and external 
passports.  In addition, Uzbekistan has greatly simplified the 
process of obtaining exit visas, which will be valid for a 
period of 2 years and will no longer require invitations.  
Prior to this, foreign travel was restricted by difficulties in 
obtaining an external passport and by a law that required an 
exit visa for each trip based on an invitation.  Government 
authorities frequently withheld exit visas when they did not 
approve of the purpose of the travel.  Those who left without 
an exit visa could be subject to severe penalties upon return.

Most barriers to emigration were lifted before the Soviet 
breakup.  Although in some instances emigrants are delayed by 
long waits for passports and exit visas, potential emigrants 
who can find a host country willing to accept them are able to 
leave the country.  Since independence, a significant number of 
non-Uzbeks, including Russians, Jews, Ukrainians, and others, 
have emigrated, although no exact figures are available.  These 
people have not left because of any systematic human rights 
abuses but rather because of what they fear will be limited 
future economic and social prospects for non-Uzbeks.  
Emigration increased markedly in 1993 but remained steady in 
1994.

The travel of local citizens within Uzbekistan is not 
controlled, unlike travel by foreigners, including 
journalists.  Foreign visitors must have each city they wish to 
visit noted in their visas.  Travel to some sensitive areas of 
the country, particularly the environmentally degraded Aral Sea 
region and the Fergana valley, is controlled even more 
carefully; requests for travel to these areas are turned down 
in some cases.  Even travel to nonsensitive tourist areas is 
unnecessarily complicated by internal visa requirements, and 
tourists seeking to check into hotels without the appropriate 
internal visa often find themselves having to pay fines or 
bribes to the visa police first.  Due to agreements between 
their countries and Uzbekistan, citizens of France, Germany, 
the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Korea receive visas 
valid for travel throughout Uzbekistan.

The law on citizenship stipulates that citizens do not lose 
their citizenship if they reside overseas.  However, since 
Uzbekistan does not provide for dual citizenship, those 
acquiring the citizenship of other countries will lose their 
citizenship in Uzbekistan.  If they return to Uzbekistan as 
foreign citizens, they are subject to foreign visa 
regulations.  There is no evidence that anyone was denied 
permission to return.

Section 3     Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of 
              Citizens to Change Their Government

Citizens cannot exercise their right to change their government 
through peaceful and democratic means.  Government measures 
severely repress opposition groups and individuals and apply 
harsh limits on freedom of expression.

The Government's professed desire to create a multiparty 
democracy is belied by its actions.  Due to the deregistration 
of the one opposition party and the one opposition movement in 
1993, there were no opposition parties legally active in 1994.  
An across-the-board crackdown on actual and potential 
opposition groups and individuals continued so that by the end 
of the year few people were willing to challenge the 
Government's grip on power or even criticize it.  On May 27, 
there was a explosion at the residence of Hamidulla 
Nurmukhamedov, an activist of the Erk Party.  No one was 
injured, but substantial property damage occurred.

Only the two political parties linked to President Karimov 
participated in Uzbekistan's first postindependence 
parliamentary elections on December 25.  Independent candidates 
representing local governments won the majority of the 250 
seats.  Most of these candidates were also affiliated with the 
PDP but were opposed by PDP-sponsored candidates.  All persons 
wishing to vote apparently were able to do so and to choose 
from among the available candidates.  However, not all 
political parties were able to register and offer candidates.  
In addition, the practice of one person voting for multiple 
family members appeared widespread.

Uzbekistan is ruled by a highly centralized presidency, 
comprising the President and a small inner circle of advisers 
and senior government officials.  President Karimov, formerly 
the first secretary of the Communist Party of Uzbekistan under 
Soviet rule, was elected in a limited multicandidate election 
in 1991.  That election was marred by government control of the 
media but Erk opposition candidate Mohammed Solikh was able to 
compete and won 12.7 percent of the vote.

The President is the chairman of the People's Democratic Party 
of Uzbekistan, the country's largest party.  Most government 
officials are also members of the PDP, although it does not 
play the leading role in governance or cadre selection that was 
played by the Communist Party during the Soviet period.  There 
is currently only one other legally registered party, the 
Fatherland Progress Party.  Other political groups such as 
Birlik, the People's Movement of Turkestan, and the Islamic 
Renaissance Party have been denied permission to register as 
parties.  The Erk Party lost its registration in 1993 when the 
Government required all parties to reregister.

The Fatherland Progress Party was created as a loyal 
"constructive opposition" party in June 1992.  Its existence 
provides the appearance of a multiparty system.  The party is 
headed by a presidential adviser, Shafkiddin Juraev, and 
supports the President politically.  The party claims a 
platform that differs from that of the PDP in that it seeks 
more rapid economic reform and development of conditions 
favorable to businessmen, but the difference is insignificant.

Although women participate much less than men in government and 
politics, there are several female parliamentary deputies.

Section 4     Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
              Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged 
              Violations of Human Rights

The Government disapproves of independent nongovernmental local 
human rights organizations and has restricted their 
operations.  It denied the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan, 
a local group organized in 1992, permission to register.  The 
Government has often regarded international criticism of its 
human rights record as interference in its internal affairs, 
but in September it hosted a Conference on Security and 
Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) seminar in Tashkent, which showed 
an increased level of tolerance for foreign discussion of human 
rights in Uzbekistan.

Mikhail Ardzinov, deputy chairman of the Human Rights Society 
of Uzbekistan, was detained in May to prevent his attendance at 
a human rights conference in Almaty, Kazakhstan, and in June to 
prevent him from meeting with Senator Specter.

Section 5     Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
              Disability, Language, or Social Status

Both the Constitution and the 1992 law on citizenship prohibit 
discrimination on the basis of sex, religion, language, or 
social status, and officially sanctioned discrimination does 
not occur.

    Women

There is no legal discrimination against women; women enjoy the 
same legal rights as men.  Despite nominal equality under the 
law, however, women are severely underrepresented in high-level 
positions.  Due to traditional roles, women usually marry 
young, bear many children, and confine their activities within 
the family.  However, women are not formally impeded from 
seeking a role in the workplace.  In rural areas, women often 
find themselves limited to arduous labor in the cotton fields.  
However, the barriers to equality for women are cultural, not 
legal, and women who open businesses or seek careers are not 
legally hindered.

Spouse abuse certainly takes place in Uzbekistan, but local 
activists have no statistics.  Wife beating is considered a 
personal, family affair rather than a criminal act, and thus 
such cases rarely come to court.  A female journalist who has 
written on women's problems estimates that some 50 percent of 
the self-immolation suicides (of which there are reportedly 
several hundred each year in Uzbekistan) are related to seeking 
an escape from chronic beatings.

    Children

Uzbekistan has one of the highest birthrates in the former 
Soviet Union.  Over half the country's population is under the 
age of 15.  The Constitution provides for children's rights, 
stating that parents are obliged to support and care for their 
children until they are of age.

    National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

In a population of about 22 million, official figures indicate 
that 71 percent are Uzbeks, 8 percent Russians, 5 percent 
Tajiks, 4 percent Tatars, and 3 percent Kazakhs.  The real 
number of Tajiks is significantly higher, as many Tajiks have 
declared Uzbek nationality in their passports.

Uzbekistan's citizenship law, passed in 1992, does not impose 
language requirements for citizenship.  Nonetheless, the 
language issue remains very sensitive.  Uzbek has been declared 
the state language, and the Constitution requires that the 
President must speak Uzbek.

In March Russian Orthodox and Jewish graves were desecrated on 
two occasions at a cemetery outside Tashkent.  Uzbeks from the 
adjoining neighborhood were suspected in the incidents.  
Europeans complain of harassment from Uzbeks.  Non-Uzbek 
speakers report unpleasant experiences with their neighbors or 
in stores.  When government organizations and academic 
institutions have been forced to cut back, it is frequently the 
Russian speakers who have lost their jobs.  However, the 
Government does not promote emigration by minority groups and 
publicly encourages them to stay.

The Government decided in 1993 to introduce a Latin script to 
replace Cyrillic, will begin teaching Uzbek in the Latin script 
in 1995, and hopes to have fully converted to a Latin script by 
2000.  Many store and street signs are already in the Latin 
script.

    People with Disabilities

One of Uzbekistan's first laws, adopted only 2 months after 
independence in November 1991, was a law guaranteeing support 
for invalids.  This law was aimed at insuring the disabled the 
same rights as other people.  However, little effort is made to 
bring the disabled into the mainstream.  Society does not 
accept them, and for the most part the disabled are kept out of 
sight, either at home or in institutions.  The State cares for 
the mentally retarded in special homes.  The Government has not 
mandated access for the disabled.

Section 6     Worker Rights

    a.   The Right of Association

The 1992 law on unions specifically proclaims that all workers 
have the right voluntarily to form and join unions of their 
choice, that trade unions themselves may voluntarily associate 
territorially or sectorally, and that they may choose their own 
international affiliations.  Membership in trade unions is 
optional.  The law also declares all unions independent of the 
State's administrative and economic bodies (except where 
provided by law), and states that trade unions may develop 
their own charters, structure, and executive bodies and 
organize their own work.

In practice, however, the overall structure of trade unions has 
not changed significantly since the Soviet period.  
Uzbekistan's independence has eliminated subordination to the 
Soviet Union or Russia but has not altered the centralized 
trade union hierarchy which remains dependent on the 
Government.  No "alternative" central union structures exist.  
A few new professional associations and interest groups have 
been organized, such as a Union of Entrepreneurs, a Union of 
Renters, an Association of Private Physicians and Pharmacists, 
and one of lawyers.  Their role and strength are as yet 
uncertain.  Some of these hope to play a significant role in 
licensing and otherwise regulating economic activity of their 
members.

According to the law, the Council of the Federation of Trade 
Unions (CFTU) has a consultative voice in the preparation of 
all legislation affecting workers and is entitled to draft laws 
on labor and social issues.  Trade unions are legally described 
as organizations that defend the right to work and protect 
jobs.  They have lost their previous role in state planning and 
in the management of enterprises.  The emphasis now is on the 
unions' responsibility for "social protection" and social 
justice--especially unemployment compensation, pensions, and 
worker retraining.

The trade union law does not mention strikes or cite a right to 
strike.  However, the law does give the unions oversight over 
both individual and collective labor disputes, which are 
defined as those involving alleged violations of labor laws, 
worker rights, or collective agreements.

The only reported strike in Uzbekistan was a short strike in 
August by teachers in the city of Richtan calling for higher 
wages.  Union and government officials alike assert that this 
social calm reflects general support for the Government's 
policies and common interest in social stability.  It probably 
also reflects the absence of truly representative trade unions 
as the standard of living fell, and growing unemployment raised 
social tensions.

    b.   The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

Trade unions may conclude agreements with enterprises.  
Privatization is in its very early phases, so there is no 
experience yet with negotiations that could be described as 
adversarial between unions and private employers.  With very 
few exceptions, the State is still the major employer, and the 
state-appointed union leaders do not view themselves as having 
conflicts of interest with the State.

The Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Finance, in 
consultation with the CFTU, set the wages for various 
categories of state employees.  In the small private sector, 
management establishes wages or negotiates them with those who 
contract for employment.

The law forbids discrimination against union members and their 
officers, and there were no complaints registered.

There are no export processing zones.

    c.   Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution specifically prohibits forced labor, except as 
legal punishment or as may be specified by law.  Large-scale 
compulsory mobilization of youth and students (by closing 
schools) to help with the cotton harvest continues.  Young 
people in rural areas are expected to participate "voluntarily" 
in harvesting activities of all kinds, and universities still 
shut down temporarily to send both students and faculty into 
the fields.

    d.   Minimum Age for Employment of Children

The minimum working age is 16 years; 15-year-olds may work with 
permission but have a shorter workday.  In rural areas, younger 
children and the elderly often turn out to help harvest cotton 
and other crops.  The Labor Ministry has an inspection service 
responsible for enforcing compliance with these and other 
regulations governing employment conditions.

    e.   Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Ministry of Labor, in consultation with the CFTU, sets the 
minimum wage and raised it several times in 1994 as the value 
of the sum (the Uzbek currency) fell.  As of September, it was 
about $10 per month at the official commercial exchange rate 
(or 200 sum, almost two times the nominal level of January 1, 
1994).  Most agree that the minimum wage is not sufficient to 
feed a family.

The workweek is set at 41 hours per week and includes a 24-hour 
rest period.  Some factories have apparently reduced work hours 
in order to avoid layoffs.  Overtime pay exists in theory but 
is not always paid.

The Labor Ministry establishes occupational health and safety 
standards in consultation with the unions.  There is a health 
and safety inspectorate within the Ministry.  Workers do leave 
jobs that are hazardous without apparent jeopardy to continued 
employment; but the local press occasionally published 
complaints about the failure of unions and government 
authorities to do enough to promote worker safety.


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[end of document]

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