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Uzbekistan bans evidence obtained under torture as judicial reform continues

New reforming Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev is revamping the country’s courts

(bne IntelliNews) – Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev issued a decree on November 30 making evidence obtained under torture inadmissible in the Central Asian country’s courts.

Uzbekistan is known as one of the world’s worst human rights abusers. The decree is likely meant to put to rest years of international concerns about torture in Uzbekistan and rights groups’ accusations regarding the widespread abuse by Uzbek authorities in the ex-Soviet country’s police stations, jails, and prisons.

The decree states that any evidence obtained by the country’s investigators through “torture, psychological and physical pressure and other cruel, inhumane methods that humiliate the dignity of parties in criminal cases or their close relatives” cannot be admissible in court, as well as any other information obtained via the violation of the rights of suspects and defendants.

Since coming to power in September 2016, President Mirziyoyev has released a number of dissidents and human rights activists from the country’s prisons. Moreover, according to the authorities, 191 defendants were acquitted in Uzbek courts in the last 10 months, compared with the seven acquittals seen over the previous five years.

Improvements in media and activist group freedom were also noted during the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein’s historic visit to the country recently.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has expressed cautious optimism about human rights-related developments in the country. HRW has also recently reopened its office in the Central Asian country.

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