Uzbekistan

What's New

  • 22 September 2006

    Access to Article IV Reports Remains Major IMF Disclosure Issue

    The major disclosure issue at the International Monetary Fund remains access to its key reports about member countries, the so-called Article IV reports. Although more of these reports are now released–about 83 percent of them–there are still more than 30 countries that legally veto their disclosure. This core of resistance includes some larger countries, including […]

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  • 6 October 2005

    IMF Modifies Disclosure Policy to Address Deletions, Delay

    The International Monetary Fund has taken steps that may reduce the number of deletions made in the publicly disclosed versions of its key reports about member countries, including the significant Article IV reports. The moves come after an internal report found that more than one-third of the published reports “incorporate substantive changes” as a result […]

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News Archive

  • 7 February 2003

    UZBEKISTAN: New FOIA Comes Into Force

    CAFSCEN.org reports that a new law on freedom of information has come into effect in Uzbekistan recently. The law “On Principles and Guarantees of Freedom of Information” which was accepted by Parliament in December, 2002 has become operational. UPDATE 2/10/03 CAFSCEN.org now reports that the Uzbekistan Government has officially declared its intentions to “Counteract” any […]

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LEGAL DOCUMENTS

Constitution of Uzbekistan

 

Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan "On Guarantees and Freedom of Access to Information" (24 April 1997)

 

Law On Principles and Guarantees of Freedom of Information (12 December 2002) [Russian]

 

Law on the Mass Media

 

ORGANIZATIONS

Sunshine Uzbekistan

 

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Click to view.

Text from the freedominfo.org Global Survey: Freedom of Information and Access to Government Records Around the World, by David Banisar (updated July 2006)

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Article 30 of the 1992 Constitution states:

All state bodies, public associations, and officials of the Republic of Uzbekistan shall allow any citizen access to documents, resolutions, and other materials, relating to their rights and interests.

The Law on the Principles and Guarantees of Freedom of Information was adopted in December 2002 and went into effect in February 2003. It replaced the 1997 Law on Guarantees and Freedom of Access to Information. The law sets a general principle for freedom of information of "openness, publicity, accessibility and authenticity." It also states that "Information must be open and public except for confidentiality."

Under the law, every person has a right to demand information. The right to information cannot be limited based on sex, race, ethnic origin, language, religion, ascription, and personal beliefs as well as personal and social rank. State bodies are given 30 days to respond to written requests. Oral requests must be responded to as soon as possible.

However, the statute sets broad areas where information can be restricted. Confidential information is defined as that for which disclosure can cause damage to the rights and legitimate interests of the individual, community and state. It can also be limited by law to protect the "fundamental rights and liberties of individuals, fundamentals of constitutional regime, moral values of the community," national security, and "the nation's spiritual, cultural and scientific potential."

Information relating to rights of citizens, legal status of government bodies, the environment, emergency situations, or which is available in libraries, archives and information systems cannot be made confidential.

Refusals of information can be appealed to the courts. The requester can receive compensation if information is unlawfully withheld or inaccurate information is given.

The law in practice does not seem to be effective at providing rights to information, which is not surprising given the totalitarian methods used by the government to suppress human rights, especially following the 2005 Andijan massacre. Human Rights Watch reports that the government refused to provide any information on the trials of those accused in Andijan including their names and charges.

The 1993 Law on the Protection of State Secrets sets broad rules for the classification of information. The Uzbekistan law adopts categories on state, military and official secrets but does not distinguish time limits or levels of sensitivity. Only information which threatens the "personal security" of individuals cannot be classified. The regulation and list of information that is classified are themselves classified. This lack of a published list of state secrets allows officials to create new categories without limit and is used to threaten media outlets from publishing without permission of government officials. Amnesty International reports that information on the use of the death penalty is considered a state secret while the International Helsinki Committee reports that the level of unemployment is also classified. There are also provisions in the Criminal Code for the unauthorized release of classified information.

The UN Human Rights Committee reviewed the law as part of their analysis of human rights in 2001:

The Committee is particularly concerned about the definition of "State secrets and other secrets" as defined in the Law on the Protection of State Secrets. It observes that the definition includes issues relating, inter alia, to science, banking and the commercial sector and is concerned that these restrictions on the freedom to receive and impart information are too wide to be consistent with article 19 of the Covenant.

The State party should amend the Law on the Protection of State Secrets to define and considerably reduce the types of issues that are defined as "State secrets and other secrets", thereby, bringing this law into compliance with article 19 of the Covenant.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) issued a declaration in September 2004 calling on Central Asian countries to amend their state secrets laws to only apply to "information whose disclosure would significantly threaten the national security or territorial integrity of a nation", to publish the associated state secrets regulations, shorten time durations for classifying information and limit liability for journalists publishing state secrets in cases of public interest".

Uzbekistan is the only country in the region which has not signed the Aarhus Convention.

 

2004 freedominfo.org Global Survey Results - Uzbekistan

 

 

Measuring Openness

Global Right to Information Rating
A country-by-country rating of laws by the Centre for Democracy and Law and Access Info.

Freedom House
The Freedom in the World report.

World Bank
Worldwide Governance Indicators

Transparency International, Corruption Perceptions Index
Measures perceptions of the degree of corruption.

Reporters Without Borders
The Press Freedom Index.