On August 20 the ‘Rule of Law Partnership in Uzbekistan’ project implemented by USAID, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan and UNDP, was honoured to give Mr. Daniel Rosenblum, US Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to Uzbekistan, a tour of the Jizzakh Inter-District Court on Civil Cases, and an presentation of the benefits the E-SUD e-justice system has had in ensuring protection of the rights and interests of Uzbekistan’s citizenry.
The visit was an important opportunity to familiarize with the current state of the E-SUD system’s implementation in Uzbekistan, and to discuss how court processes could be further improved through digital means. The introduction of ground-breaking ICT tools into Uzbekistan courts, as achieved to date, would not have been possible without USAID’s support and generosity.
Mr. Rosenblum’s visit to the Jizzakh inter-district court featured an overview of information publications created to date by the ‘Rule of Partnership in Uzbekistan’ project, and a briefing on the E-SUD system’s functions and features including its automated case distribution, online fees calculator, the electronic issuance of court decisions, the E-SUD dashboard module, and the E-SUD module for registering civil cases.
The E-SUD system’s launch optimised Uzbekistan’s efforts to make citizens the focus of on-going governmental and legal reforms, as reflected in the Strategy of Actions for the Five Priority Areas of Development of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 2017-2020, and paralleling the desired outcomes of Sustainable Development Goal 16. It reflected nationwide efforts to digitize governmental processes, and to ensure that every government department functioned first and foremost as a means to protect citizen rights.
Five years after its piloting the E-SUD system operates in Uzbekistan’s all 75 inter-district courts and 14 regional courts on civil cases. It allows citizens to easily apply to courts online, while also considerably speeding up the judicial process by reducing the number of visits to courts needed to resolve disputes from 6-7 to 2-3. These benefits have made appealing to the courts a much more practical option for citizens. E-SUD has considerably helped to boost transparency and limit the risk of corruption within Uzbekistan’s judicial system.
E-SUD’s success is in the numbers – in January-June 2019 over176,000 cases were filed to courts through E-SUD. To date almost 18,000 unique users were registered in the system, including 624 lawyers, 2,577 legal entities and 14,538 citizens (7,169 being women).
The E-SUD system has been essential in protecting the rights of marginalized citizens, for instance by addressing employment disputes and resolving family law matters, particularly those impacting women. Enhancing access has been the focus of other aspects of the ‘Rule of Law Partnership in Uzbekistan’ project’s work, for instance the establishment of a free legal clinic in Tashkent, and the wide distribution of publications providing accessible information on legal processes to citizens.
The success of the E-SUD system, along with the project’s other ICT initiatives such as the introduction of interactive e-justice tools onto the Supreme Court website, have been globally recognised. The E-SUD project was one of 30 finalists at 2019’s World Justice Forum VI in the Hague, while E-SUD’s achievements were mentioned at the 68th session of the UN General Assembly, and articles about the system have been published on Aljazeera and the online UNDP Voyages Eurasia publication.
E-SUD’s global recognition has opened the possibility of its further integration with other e-governmental tools, along with the potential for developing artificial intelligence elements within the system, and for implementing equivalent systems in other Central Asia countries.
The national success of the E-SUD system and other initiatives introduced by the ‘Rule of Law Partnership in Uzbekistan’ project in Uzbekistan, being fundamentally important in enhancing national rule of law and advancing the concept of ‘Justice for All’, have been possible through USAID’s dedicated funding and technical support. The project was immensely honoured to welcome Mr. Rosenblum in review the work we have implemented at the Jizzakh Inter-District Court on Civil Cases, and beyond.
Operating from November 2014 to December 2020, the ‘Rule of Law Partnership in Uzbekistan’ project has been implemented by USAID, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan and UNDP, with its overall goal being to strengthen access to and trust in Uzbekistan’s judicial system.