Wednesday, 17, July, 2024

The United States Commission On International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) published 2019 Annual Report, which includes country reports.

In the Uzbekistan section it noted that in 2018, religious freedom conditions in Uzbekistan trended positive in certain areas, though serious concerns remain. During the year, Uzbekistan continued on a path of reform to expand religious freedom in the country.

Notably, in May 2018, Uzbekistan’s parliament adopted a road map to improve religious freedom conditions, incorporating the recommendations made by the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, and pledged to rewrite the oppressive 1998 Law on Freedom of Conscience and Religious Organizations.

Despite the positive developments originating at the highest levels of the government, severe violations of religious freedom persisted. Thousands of Muslim religious prisoners remained behind bars on allegations of religious extremism. Of the prisoners who have been released under the administration of President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, none of them have been rehabilitated for full reintegration into society, and the government has yet to provide a means for former prisoners to seek justice and exonerate their names.

Based on these violations, USCIRF again finds in 2019 that Uzbekistan merits designation as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA). In November 2018, the U.S. Department of State moved Uzbekistan from its list of designated CPCs and placed the country on its “Special Watch List,” a new category created by December 2016 amendments to IRFA.

It notably provides recommendations to the U.S. government, in particular to establish a binding agreement with the Uzbek government, as authorized under section 405(c) of IRFA, on steps it can take to ensure long-lasting improvements to religious freedom.

It recommends the U.S. authorities to urges the Uzbek government to close the notorious Jasliq Prison, where many religious prisoners of conscience are held, and allow for independent prison monitoring.

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