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Title:  Uzbekistan Human Rights Practices, 1995
Author: U.S. Department of State
Date:   March 1996


Four years after declaring independence, Uzbekistan has made some
progress in the transition from its authoritarian legacy towards
democracy.  President Islam Karimov and the centralized executive branch
which serves him remain the dominant forces in political life.
Parliamentary elections in December 1994 and January 1995 represented a
step forward in technical implementation of the democratic process at
the ballot box but were flawed due to the lack of free speech and press
during the campaign.  While the elections were technically multiparty,
opposition parties were not allowed to participate.  The Government
continues to repress severely independent opposition parties and
movements.  It justifies its repressive policy by invoking the specter
of Islamic fundamentalism, the civil strife that has plagued neighboring
Tajikistan and Afghanistan, and possible opposition preparations for
armed struggle.  The Constitution provides for an independent judicial
authority.  However, in political cases, government direction influences
the judiciary.

On March 26, a referendum was held extending the president's term for an
additional 3 years to 2000.  The professed reason for this extension was
to synchronize the President's and Parliament's 5-year terms.  The
referendum passed by an almost unanimous margin in a process that was
characterized by a lack of public debate and the almost universal
practice of one person casting votes for an entire extended family.
Even allowing for "family voting," the official participation results
could not have been valid.  The President said that he would count the
extension as a second term, the constitutional limit on presidential
terms.  However, on August 30, Parliament passed a resolution opposing
the President's decision and has decided that the referendum is an
extension of his first term.

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.
The NSS is the lead agency when opposition figures are arrested for
crimes in these areas.  The Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD)
prosecutes domestic crimes and often plays the lead role in
investigating cases against political opposition figures.  Members of
the security forces continued to be responsible for serious human rights

Uzbekistan has taken significant steps toward market reform.  The
economy is based primarily on agriculture and agricultural processing;
Uzbekistan is the world's fourth largest producer of cotton and has
large deposits of gold, strategic minerals, gas, and oil.  The
Government has proclaimed its commitment to a gradual transition to a
free market economy.  It accelerated macroeconomic reforms sharply in
the second half of 1994 and continued those reforms throughout 1995.
Its reform programs cut inflation, subsidies, and the budget deficit,
increased interest rates, and produced a more realistic exchange rate.
However, progress on privatization of the large state-owned enterprises
that account for the bulk of gross domestic product remained slow and a
host of formal and informal barriers continued to constrain the nascent
private sector.

The Government's respect for citizens' human rights did not
significantly improve, although in April President Karimov and other
senior officials began to acknowledge that Uzbekistan has not made
enough progress on human rights and needs to accelerate democratic
reform.  Citizens cannot exercise fully their right peacefully to change
their government.  To control the political arena, the Government
continues to deny registration to independent political parties and some
other social groups.  It continues to suppress unregistered opposition
parties and movements and severely limits distribution of opposition
literature.  It continues to ban unsanctioned public meetings and
demonstrations.  Security forces detained or arrested opposition
activists on false charges in a few cases.  Police often beat criminal
suspects and detention can be prolonged.  Although the Constitution
expressly prohibits it, press censorship continues, and freedom of
expression is constrained by an atmosphere of repression which makes it
difficult to criticize the Government publicly.  To counter what it
perceives as extremist Islamic views, the Government places some
limitations on freedom of religion in certain areas.  Despite a
constitutional prohibition, there continues to be significant
traditional societal discrimination and domestic violence against women.


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

     a.  Political and Extrajudicial Killing

Evidence strongly suggests that local businessman Bakhtiar Yakubov died
as a result of beatings he sustained while in custody at the Ministry of
Internal Affairs, reportedly in connection with a criminal case against
opposition leader Ibragim Buriev.  The Government is conducting an
internal investigation.

     b.  Disappearance

According to Islamic activists, the imam of an Andijon mosque was
detained at the Tashkent airport by NSS officers on August 30 while
enroute to a conference in Moscow.  There is no official admission that
he has been arrested or detained, and no further information on his

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

Although the law prohibits such practices, police beat and otherwise
treated detainees abusively to obtain confessions.  Police allegedly
beat Dimitri Fattakhov, Aleksei Smirnov, and Oleg Gusev in order to
obtain their confessions of complicity in a murder.  These allegations
appear credible.

On April 18, opposition leader and former Vice President Shukhrullah
Mirsaidov and his son were abducted and beaten by unidentified persons.
The elder Mirsaidov was drugged in what appeared to be a blackmail
attempt.  Ministry of Internal Affairs officers were believed
responsible.  The Government is conducting an investigation.

Two women, one employed by an environmental nongovernment organization
(NGO), and the other a relative of a prominent opponent of the
Government, were arrested on smuggling charges in mid-July.  They were
taken into custody by the NSS, although the alleged violations would
normally have resulted only in a fine; government security authorities
claimed they were arrested because of indications the women's activities
were connected to organized crime.  The reported circumstances of their
detentions were harsh and suggest an effort to extract confessions by
coercive means:  the women were kept, separately, in isolation, and
their families were prevented from seeing them; food packages brought to
supplement the basic prison diet were not passed on by authorities.  One
of the women signed a confession but later repudiated it.  Both women
were pregnant when they were arrested but underwent abortions shortly
after being detained.  There are allegations, based on conversations
with the women and their relatives, that the abortions were part of the
pattern of coercion.  However, following their release on bail several
months later, the two women also stated that they had consented to the
abortions after medical examinations and sonograms indicating one of the
fetuses was malformed and the other dead.

Prison conditions are inadequate and worse for male than for female
prisoners.  Due to limited resources, prison overcrowding is a problem.
Political prisoners are often not allowed visitors or any other direct
form of contact with family and friends.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Uzbekistan continues to use the Soviet legal system and 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.  Delays between detention and trials can be
lengthy--one Islamic cleric detained in September 1994 did not go on
trial until May 1995.

In some cases, opposition figures were charged with offenses unrelated
to their criticism of government policy, such as drug possession,
weapons possession, or disorderliness.  Opposition activist Ibragim
Buriev was arrested on March 30 for possession of weapons and narcotics.
The charges against him were based on planted evidence.  He was released
a month later (see Section 3).  Religious leaders from the Kokand area
were charged with drug and weapons possession.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

In political, cases, government direction influences the judiciary.

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 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

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.

Uzbekistan still uses the Soviet judiciary system which features trial
by a panel of three judges:  1 professional judge and 2 "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.

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, Ibragim Buriev (see Section 1.d.) was unable to meet the lawyer
his family had hired.

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 newspapers of the opposition
Erk party).  Estimates by independent opposition and human rights groups
in Uzbekistan on the number of political prisoners range from 15 to 40.
There is not enough information available to determine whether other
prisoners are jailed for political offenses.

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

By law, search warrants issued by a procurator are required.  There is
no provision for a judicial review of warrants.  There does not appear
to be a legal mechanism for authorizing telephone wiretapping 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

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

Although the Constitution provides for "freedom of thought, speech, and
convictions," freedom of public speech remained severely limited.  The
fear of expressing views critical of the President and Government
persisted as the Government continued its general crackdown on all forms
of opposition.  A February 15, 1991, law against "offending the honor
and dignity of the President" limits the ability to criticize the

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 apparat has advised newspaper
editors-in-chief to limit strictly their contact with American and some
European diplomats.  Nearly all 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 that of the Erk party.
In January 1993, the newspaper was banned and has not been published
since then.

The Government also forbids the distribution of foreign newspapers
critical of Uzbekistan.  The publication of the local editions of
Izvestia and Pravda and the sale of the Moscow edition remained
suspended throughout 1995.  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 by the Cabinet of Ministers bans private persons and
journalist collectives from founding newspapers or magazines.  Foreign
correspondents based in Tashkent report that the security services have
harassed and threatened their translators and other local employees.

Television broadcasting is state controlled.  Although there are local
stations in various regions, nationwide programming is on two state-run
channels that fully support the Government and its policies.  The
Ostankino channel from Russia has evening broadcasts.  Its news
broadcasts are blacked out when they are critical of the Government.  A
cable television joint venture between the state broadcasting company
and an American company broadcasts the Hong Kong-based "Star TV"
channels, including British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) World News to
Tashkent and a few other locations.  Radio Liberty, the Voice of America
and the BBC are among the few sources of uncontrolled news, although the
Government occasionally interfered with Radio Liberty broadcasts.

In addition to state-controlled television there is at least one major
station in Samarkand that considers itself independent.  It claims not
to receive any government subsidy and to exist wholly on income derived
from advertisers.  It currently has two channels and plans a third,
devoted to business news.  The station broadcasts national programs and
the Ostankino channel.  It plans its own programming to compete with
these offerings.  It is clearly sensitive to political concerns from the
center but claims not to be formally censored.

There are no private publishing houses, and government approval is
required for all publications.

Virtually all academic institutions and academies are experiencing
increased autonomy, although freedom of expression is still limited.
Most institutions are in the process of revising curriculum, and western
textbooks are in great demand.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The 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 has made no attempts
to hold public meetings since then.

The Government also limits 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 in its membership list, then complaining
about the group's name, and finally noting its lack of an official

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

Nonpolitical associations and social organizations usually do not
encounter comparable difficulties in registering, and the number of such
groups expanded in 1995.  However, some evangelical churches and some
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.  Although the Government generally
respects this right, it places some limitations on freedom of religion
in certain areas.  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.

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.
The Government has detained a number of Fergana Valley Islamic clerics
on various charges (see Sections 1.b. and 1.d.), and closed some
mosques.  Bureaucratic restrictions have inhibited the free operation of
numerous medreses (religious schools).

     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 the Government began to issue new
passports to everyone over age 16.  These replace the old system of
separate internal and external passports.  In addition, Uzbekistan has
greatly simplified the process of obtaining exit visas, which are valid
for a period of 2 years and no longer require invitations.

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 left due to fear of limited future
economic and social prospects for non-Uzbeks.  The travel of local
citizens within Uzbekistan is not controlled, unlike travel by
foreigners, including journalists.  Due to treaties between their
countries and Uzbekistan, citizens of the United States, France,
Germany, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Korea receive visas
valid for travel throughout Uzbekistan.  Other foreign visitors must
have each city they wish to visit noted on their visas.  Tourists
seeking to check into hotels without the appropriate internal visa often
find themselves having to pay fines or bribes to the visa police.  In
mid-1995, a presidential edict decreed that the ancient cities of
Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva would henceforth be "open
cities," for which a separate visa notation is not required for
nationals of any country.  However, it is not clear whether implementing
regulations are yet in place.

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 Uzbekistani citizenship.  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

There is no law concerning the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.
The Government considers asylum seekers from Tajikistan and Afghanistan
to be economic migrants, and such individuals are subject to deportation
if their residency documents are not in order.

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

While the Constitution provides for this right, in reality 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 professes the desire to create a multiparty democracy but
controls the creation of new parties.  Due to the deregistration of the
one opposition party and the one opposition movement in 1993, there are
no true independent opposition parties legally active.

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 risk
criticizing it publicly.  In February the Government ordered the closure
of a bank owned by political dissident Rustam Usmanov.  In March judges
convicted all seven defendants connected to the Erk party on charges of
attempting to overthrow constitutional order and organizing antistate
agitation.  Birlik leader Ibragim Buriev was arrested on March 30 on
false charges of weapons and narcotics possession within days of his
return to Uzbekistan from an extended stay abroad (see Section 1.d.).
He was released on April 29 following international protests.  On April
18, leading opposition figure Shukrulla Mirsaidov was abducted, severely
beaten, and left naked on a rural road side.  The incident occurred
shortly after Mirsaidov's criticism of the Government appeared in a New
York Times article.  Subsequent threats against Mirsaidov caused him to
decline to meet with a visiting foreign government human rights

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 in Uzbekistan under Soviet rule, was elected in a
limited multicandidate election in 1991.  A Soviet-style referendum on
March 26 extended Karimov's term in office until 2000.

The President is the Chairman of the People's Democratic Party of
Uzbekistan (PDP), 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.  The other legally registered
parties include:  the Homeland Progress Party, the Social-Democratic
Party of Uzbekistan (Adolat), the National Rebirth Democratic Party, and
the National Unity Social Movement.  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 Homeland Progress Party was created as a loyal "constructive
opposition" party in June 1992, and its existence provided the
appearance of a multiparty system during the December 1994/January 1995
parliamentary elections.  Since the elections, two additional parties
(the Adolat Social Democratic Party and the National Revival Party) and
one movement (Unity) have registered and gained seats in Parliament
through switched membership of already-elected members or unopposed by-
elections to open seats.  None of the parties in Parliament considers
itself an "opposition" party:  all proclaim their support for the
President's policies.

Traditionally, women participate much less than men in government and
politics.  Only 13 of the 250 deputies in Parliament are female.  The
female chairperson of the governmental National Women's Committee was
named by the President as a deputy Prime Minister on March 2.  Her
duties specifically include monitoring the rights and welfare of women.

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

The Government disapproves of local nongovernmental human rights
organizations and has restricted their operations.  It continues to deny
the Human Rights Society of Uzbekistan, a local group organized in 1992,
permission to register.  In February the President appointed a Humans
Rights Commissioner and in May a Parliamentary Commission on Human
Rights was established.

Mikhail Ardzinov, deputy chairman of the Human Rights Society of
Uzbekistan, was temporarily detained in March to prevent him from
protesting the referendum to extend the President's term.

The Government routinely criticizes international human rights groups
and Western and Russian reporters for what it considers biased reporting
on human rights in Uzbekistan.  In the past the Government denied access
to such groups.  However, in 1995 the Government did permit Human Rights
Watch/Helsinki to visit Uzbekistan twice and meet with both governmental
and nongovernmental figures.  Human Rights Watch was given permission to
open an office in Tashkent in November.  In addition, the Organization
on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) opened a regional office in
Tashkent, which has been welcomed by government officials.

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.  The
Government is proud of its diverse ethnic mix and senior officials often
comment on the contributions the 115 different ethnic minorities have
made to society.


Spousal abuse is common 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 studied women's problems in Uzbekistan in the early
1990's, estimated that approximately 50 percent of the self-immolation
suicides throughout Central Asia are related to women seeking an escape
from chronic beatings.  There is no current statistical data available
on self-immolation or suicide rates among women.

Although discrimination against women is prohibited by law, traditional
cultural and religious practices severely limit their role in everyday
society.  For these reasons, women are severely underrepresented in
high-level positions.  On March 2, President Karimov issued an edict on
measures to increase the role of women in society, particularly
extending their participation in state and social administration and
coordinating the activities of ministries and social organizations as
they relate to women's issues.  In this connection a new post, deputy
Prime Minister, was established with responsibilities for the management
of matters connected with furthering the role of women in society.  The
edict also created heads of women's affairs in the autonomous republic
of Karakalpakstan, regions, cities, and districts.  The Ministry of
Finance was ordered to allocate the necessary funds to finance these new
positions and working bodies.

Due to traditional roles, women usually marry young, bear many children,
and confine their activities within the family.  In rural areas, women
often find themselves limited to arduous labor in the cotton fields.
However, women are not formally impeded from seeking a role in the work
place:  the barriers to equality for women are cultural, not legal, and
women who open businesses or seek careers are not legally hindered.


The Constitution provides for children's rights, stating that parents
are obliged to support and care for their children until they are of
age.  The State grants monetary allowances to families based on their
number of children.  There is no pattern of societal abuse of children,
Uzbekistan has one of the highest birthrates in the former Soviet Union.
Over half the Republic's population is under the age of 15.

     People with Disabilities

One of Uzbekistan's first laws, adopted only 2 months after independence
in November 1991, guaranteed support for the disabled.  This law was
aimed at ensuring the disabled the same rights as other people.
However, little effort is made to bring the disabled into the
mainstream.  The State cares for the mentally disabled in special homes.
The Government has not mandated access for the disabled.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The population of approximately 23 million is about 71 percent Uzbeks, 8
percent Russians, 5 percent Tajiks, 4 percent Tatars and 3 percent
Kazaks, and many other ethnic groups represented.  The Government likes
to boast that more than 115 nationalities live together peacefully in

The 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.  However, the
language law provides for Russian as the "language of interethnic
communication."  Russian is widely spoken in the main cities, and Tajik
is widely spoken in Samarkand and Bukhara Oblasts.  The Government hopes
to switch to the Latin alphabet by 2000 but has been hampered by the
financial implications of this change.  Some Uzbek language street and
store signs can be seen with Latin script.

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 for 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, degree of independence from the Government, and strength are
as yet uncertain.  Some of these hope to play a significant role in
licensing and otherwise regulating the economic activity of their

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

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.

There were few reports of strikes.  Union and government officials alike
assert that this 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.  Worker
collectives in rural areas conducted sit-ins and demonstrations for non-
payment of salaries.  In most cases the local government made
arrangements for payment and the groups disbursed peacefully.

     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 no complaints were 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; 15-year-olds can work with permission but
have a shorter workday.  In the 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

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

The Ministry of Labor, in consultation with the CFTU, sets the minimum
wage.  As of September 1, it was about $7.35 (250 Som) per month.  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.
Although written regulations may provide adequate safeguards, workers in
hazardous jobs often lack protective clothing and equipment.


[end of document]


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