Tuesday, 23, July, 2024

On 20 June 2024 Ambassador Timothy Smart of the United Kingdom, Ambassador Charlotte Adriaen of the European Union, and Deputy Chief of Mission Paul Poletes of the United States visited a prison colony in Chirchik district just outside the capital at the invitation of the Uzbek authorities.

During the visit, they were shown the facilities in which the prisoners receive specialist medical care and therapy, as well as two workshops where they produce garments and furniture items. They also received presentations from prison staff which enabled them to gain a glimpse into what daily life is like for those serving their sentences in that facility. This visit marks a milestone in engagement between Uzbekistan and the the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The diplomats acknowledged the openness of the prison staff and were encouraged by the improvements made in recent years.

Uzbekistan has announced it will ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT); as part of this, the National Preventative Mechanism will be responsible for conducting comprehensive and independent reports on detention facilities. This commitment to independent scrutiny will support the Uzbek government in pushing forward reforms to improve the justice sector. The European Union, United Kingdom, and the United States remain committed partners to Uzbekistan, and look forward to continuing cooperation in this field.

His Majesty’s Ambassador Timothy Smart said:

“It is encouraging to see Uzbekistan continue its journey towards improving human rights in the country. In the UK we have had many issues with our prisons and through open discussion and independent scrutiny we have been able to improve their conditions. I am most grateful to the Uzbek government and authorities of prison 13 for such access. I was struck by the quality of the facilities we saw today and the focus on rehabilitation. The life skills provided are invaluable to both the individuals as well as their mahallas”. 

Deputy Chief of Mission Paul Poletes said:

“What we saw today confirmed external reports that prison conditions have improved over the past five years. It remains important to ensure that all prisoners are treated equally, with respect, and free from abuse. We encourage the government to continue to increase prison access for independent monitors and to work with the Ombudsman’s office and independent civil society to create an open, transparent prison system”.

Ambassador Charlotte Adriaen said:

“I am very thankful to the Uzbek Government and the administration of prison no’ 13 for allowing this visit. Transparency in the penitentiary system is key, also in Uzbekistan’s path towards the ratification of OPCAT. In this regard, and considering the positive impression we bring back from today’s visit, it is my firm belief that openness and cooperation with international and national monitors can only benefit the life of prisoners and Uzbekistan”.

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