The following article and picture materials have been provided by the Embassy of the Republic of Uzbekistan in Seoul for publication by The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language news publications since 1985.—Ed.
By Gabit Aydarov, Head of the Sector of the Secretariat of the Authorized Person of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Human Rights (Ombudsman)
The modernization of the country and the building of the New Uzbekistan based on the principle “The society is the initiator of reforms” require the conduct of a national vote on constitutional reforms, adapting our Basic Law to today’s social realities and the logic of our accelerated reforms.
Based on the idea that “the people must be the only source and author of the Constitution”, a nationwide discussion was held on the draft Constitutional Law, during which more than 220 thousand proposals on its improvement were received from the population, the majority of which were taken into consideration.
With the amendments and addends made to the Constitution, the existing 128 Articles have been increased to 155, of which 91 have been conceptually altered.
For the first time, the Constitution stipulates as an inviolable provision that Uzbekistan is a sovereign, democratic, legal, social and secular State (Article 1). This norm of principle is aimed at preserving and further strengthening the independence of our country, intensive continuation of reforms based on the principle “In the name of human dignity” and ensuring the priority of law.
Along with this, according to the norm of Article 19 of the Constitution in the new edition, “Human rights and freedoms belong to everyone from birth”. Human life, honor, dignity, freedom, equality, security, inviolability are considered as natural and inalienable rights.
The rights and freedoms of a person, which he or she possesses from birth, are defined in almost 80 international human rights documents, to which Uzbekistan is a party.
Ensuring these fundamental and inalienable human rights is enshrined at the constitutional level as the key task of the country and society. This means that no formalities are required for every person to enjoy these rights and they are guaranteed by the State.
Moreover, according to Article 20 of the draft, all contradictions and ambiguities in the relations of a person with State bodies are interpreted in favor of the person, and the legal measures must be based on the principle of proportionality and be sufficient to achieve legitimate goals.
The draft amendments to the Basic Law also clearly define the statutory amount of pensions, allowances and other types of social assistance, which cannot be lower than the officially defined minimum consumer expenditures. The norm that citizens have the right to receive a guaranteed volume of free medical care borne by the State is strictly enshrined.
Additional norms aimed at strengthening the social protection system are being introduced. In particular, the draft stipulates the tasks of the State on citizen’s unemployment protection and poverty reduction. Moreover, the State organizes and encourages vocational training and retraining of citizens to ensure their employment.
Furthermore, the right of our citizens to housing is enshrined at the constitutional level. It is determined that the State will stimulate housing construction and create conditions for the realization of the right to housing. A legal foundation is being laid for the provision of housing to socially needy categories.
The Constitution also clearly establishes the norm that no one may be deprived of housing without a court decision and in an illegitimate manner. The owner deprived of his or her house shall, in the cases and under the procedure established by law, be reimbursed in advance and in equal shares of the value of the property and the damage caused. Introduction of this norm to the Basic Law is a reasonable decision that protects the interests of the owners in the matter of demolitions, which has become one of the most acute problems in the society during several years.
The draft amendments establish that taxes and fees must be fair and not prevent citizens from exercising their rights. In the context of increasingly developing market relations, this norm will serve to ensure the rights and interests of all citizens and entrepreneurs.
Particular attention in the draft Constitutional Law is paid to expanding the participation of citizens in the management of the affairs of society and the State. It is determined that the procedure for formation and execution of the State budget of the Republic of Uzbekistan will be based on the principles of openness and transparency, and citizens and civil society institutions will exercise public control over the formation and execution of the State budget.
In order to ensure the environmental rights of citizens and to prevent harmful effects on the environment, the State creates conditions for public control in the sphere of urban planning. The public discussion of draft urban planning documents is intensifying.
These provisions ensure the priority of human rights, increase the responsibility of State bodies in performing their duties in compliance with human rights, and prevent the use of excessive legal measures against a person.
In accordance with Article 31 of the draft Basic Law, guarantees of the inviolability of the person in criminal proceedings are enshrined: everyone has the right to freedom and inviolability of private life, to privacy of correspondence, telephone conversations, postal, electronic and other communications. This right may be restricted only by a court decision.
It should be noted regarding the constitutional reforms in terms of the Authorized Person of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Human Rights (Ombudsman). According to Article 98 of the draft Constitutional Law, citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan with the right to vote, in the amount of at least one hundred thousand people, the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Authorized Person of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Human Rights (Ombudsman), the Central Election Commission of the Republic of Uzbekistan are granted the right to submit legislative proposals to the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan by way of legislative initiative.
Empowering the Ombudsman to initiate legislation will serve to fill the gaps identified in the legislation during the studying citizens’ appeals.
The amendments to the Constitution of Uzbekistan adorn with the most modern democratic values and the results of an in-depth analysis of the international practice of constitutional building in developed countries.