From June 13-15 the international conference ‘Administrative Justice in the Republic of Uzbekistan: Current State and Development Prospects’ was held at the International Tashkent Hotel. This landmark conference was organized by the Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan, with support from the ‘Rule of Law Partnership in Uzbekistan’ project implemented by the Supreme Court, USAID and UNDP, and by IRZ and OSCE.

This conference’s objective was to take stock of the successful work being undertaken in strengthening Uzbekistan’s administrative courts, and to gather recommendations from experts throughout the CIS and Eastern Europe, and from further afield, on further reforming this important tool for protecting citizen rights. The application of legal reforms in Uzbekistan’s administrative courts has been a long process, one relying greatly on the inputs of international experts, and the application of global best practices.

Uzbekistan’s administrative courts were originally established, in accordance with the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan ‘On measures to radically improve the structure and efficiency of the judicial system of the Republic of Uzbekistan’ No. UP – 4966, dated February 21, 2017. From the start of their operation, they have served an essential function in democratizing and liberalizing Uzbekistan’s government and administrative bodies, and in ensuring that citizens feel able to resolve their grievances through legal avenues. They have been a vital means for increasing transparency and openness, and preventing corruption.

In the first quarter of 2019 the administrative courts heard 5,584 public law cases, with the rights of 4,635 citizens and legal entities being restored as a result, and with disciplinary actions being subsequently taken against 36 officials. Since their first establishment in 2017, a major focus of administrative court development has been to ensure accessibility, and as such 89,044 cases, or more than 57% of all cases heard by administrative courts were heard through mobile court sessions.

The three days of the conference saw the presentation of the main directions of administrative and judicial reforms in Uzbekistan, as conducted over the last year, in accordance with the Action Strategy on five priority directions of development of Uzbekistan in 2017-2021, and Sustainable Development Goal 16.

The conference featured discussions on matters which ranged from the on-going reforms to administrative justice in the Republic of Uzbekistan, to an overview of national law, the methods applied in improving lawyer participation in criminal processes, and challenges faced when enhancing administrative justice in Russia and in OSCE countries (with lessons for Uzbekistan).

Breakout sessions focused on the structure of Uzbekistan’s administrative courts system, and the main approaches through which administrative courts have resolved public disputes and addressed cases regarding administrative offenses.

The three-day conference ended with a press briefing that presented the event’s key outcomes, and a public dialogue on the importance of administrative proceedings in protecting human rights and interests. The conference’s participants were also invited to tour the Shaykhontakhur and Chilanzar district administrative courts, to witness first-hand the benefits administrative courts have in preserving the legitimate rights and interests of citizens.

Over 150 participants were present at the conference, including international experts, representatives from international Supreme Courts and legal professionals, from Central Asia and East European countries (Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Belarus), from Armenia, Austria, Germany, France, Spain and the US.

Also attending were judges and staff of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Tashkent state and regional courts dealing with administrative issues, staff of the Supreme Judicial Council, representatives from the Supreme School of Judges, the Ministry of Justice, the General Prosecutor’s Office, and the Chamber of Advocates of the Republic of Uzbekistan, and representatives of national institutions on human rights, civil society, key academia, and representatives of mass media.

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