Uzbekistan is a constitutional republic with a political system led by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev and his supporters. On October 24, the government held presidential election and President Mirziyoyev won re-election with 80.2 percent of the total votes. A genuine choice of political alternatives was not available to voters because true opposition candidates were unable to register or run for office. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe stated, “while election day was peaceful, significant irregularities were observed and important safeguards were often disregarded during voting, counting, and tabulation.”
The government authorizes four different entities to investigate criminal activity and provide security. The Ministry of Internal Affairs controls police, who are responsible for law enforcement, maintenance of order, and the investigation of crimes. It also investigates and disciplines police officers if they are accused of human rights violations. The National Guard provides for public order and the security of diplomatic missions and radio and television broadcasting, and other state entities. The State Security Service, whose chairperson reports directly to the president, deals with national security and intelligence matters, including terrorism, corruption, organized crime, border control, and narcotics. The Prosecutor General’s Office is mandated to protect the rights and freedoms of citizens and legally protected interests of the state, to conduct preliminary investigations of crimes, and to prosecute persons and entities accused of crimes. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control over the security forces, but security services permeated civilian structures. Civilian authorities opaquely interacted with security services’ personnel, making it difficult to define the scope and limits of civilian authority. There were reports that members of the security and law enforcement agencies, particularly police and prison officials, committed abuses.
Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings; torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment; arbitrary arrest or detention; political prisoners; politically motivated reprisal against individuals in another country; serious restrictions on freedom of expression and media, including censorship and the existence of criminal libel and slander laws; substantial interference with freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, including restrictions on civil society organizations, human rights activists, and others who criticized the government; severe restrictions on religious freedom; restrictions on freedom of movement; inability of citizens to change their government peacefully through free and fair elections; serious and unreasonable restrictions on political participation; trafficking in persons; and existence and use of laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults; and significant restrictions on workers’ freedom of association.
Impunity of government officials remained pervasive despite some efforts by law enforcement agencies to investigate officials for human rights abuses and corruption.