Human Rights Watch (HRW) says that after taking "some steps" toward reforming Uzbekistan, President Shavkat Mirziyoev has not extended this "reform spirit" to this month’s elections.
On December 22, Uzbekistan will hold its first parliamentary elections since Mirziyoyev took power three years ago following the death of his predecessor, Islam Karimov.
Mirziyoev has since introduced “important reforms,” including improvements to Uzbekistan’s “abysmal” human rights record, but the Central Asian country’s political system remains “largely authoritarian,” HRW said on December 16.
Uzbekistan adopted “some changes” to its Electoral Code in February, HRW said, but the reform will not be enough to allow voters a genuine choice of candidates in the upcoming elections.
The five registered parties in the vote operate “within the political confines defined by the government,” the group said, adding that no opposition parties or independent candidates have been allowed to participate.
“Uzbekistan has recently introduced important reforms, so it’s a missed opportunity that this reform spirit did not extend to these parliamentary elections,” Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at HRW, said in a statement. “Tashkent should in future allow independent parties and candidates to run in such elections.”
HRW said there had been “some signs of hope on human rights” under Mirziyoyev, whose government has released dozens of people detained on politically motivated charges, including human rights defenders and journalists.