Last Updated: Monday, 18 December 2017, 09:48 GMT

Child Soldiers Global Report 2004 - Uzbekistan

Publisher Child Soldiers International
Publication Date 2004
Cite as Child Soldiers International, Child Soldiers Global Report 2004 - Uzbekistan, 2004, available at: [accessed 19 December 2017]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Republic of Uzbekistan

Covers the period from April 2001 to March 2004.

Population: 25.7 million (10.7 million under 18)
Government armed forces: 55,000 (estimate)
Compulsory recruitment age: 18
Voluntary recruitment age: 18
Voting age: 18
Optional Protocol: not signed
Other treaties ratified (see glossary): CRC, GC AP I and II

There were no reports of under-18s in the armed forces.


Uzbekhistan was one of the main regional allies of the US-led coalition to which it made available military bases for the 2001 bombing campaign in Afghanistan. The "international war against terrorism" was used by the authorities to justify its clampdown on religious and political dissent. In 2001 nine suspected members of a banned Islamist opposition movement were sentenced to long prison terms on charges of attempting to overthrow the constitutional order. Thousands of devout Muslims and dozens of members or supporters of banned secular opposition parties and movements were serving long prison sentences, convicted after unfair trials where the courts reportedly failed to take account of defendants' allegations of torture. The UN Special Rapporteur on torture, who visited the country in 2002, concluded that torture and ill-treatment was systematic and condoned by the authorities. In two cases in 2002, seven law enforcement officers were convicted and sentenced to long prison terms for torturing detainees to death. Human rights activists faced harassment and intimidation, forcible psychiatric confinement and imprisonment. Death sentences were passed in a criminal justice system seriously flawed by corruption and failure of the courts to investigate torture allegations. At least 40 people were sentenced to death and at least 28 executed despite interventions in some cases by the UN Human Rights Committee. Some legislative and judicial reforms were introduced in 2003, but the government failed to address the appalling human rights situation including official repression of dissent in civil, religious and political life. In 2003 at least 6,000 political prisoners remained in detention in harsh conditions.1


National recruitment legislation and practice

The constitution provides for conscription: "Defence of the Republic of Uzbekistan is the duty of every citizen of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Citizens will be obliged to perform military or alternative service in accordance with the procedure prescribed by law".2 Under the 1992 Law on Universal Military Service, as amended, the minimum age for conscription is 18, and the draft takes place twice a year. An amendment to the law in December 2002 cut the term of service from 18 to 12 months as part of a move to professionalize and reduce the size of the armed forces.3 For those with a higher education the term was reduced to nine months.4

Of Uzbekistan's large population of 18-yearold men (275,000 in 2001), only 25 to 34 per cent have served in the armed forces because of ineffectual enforcement of the draft, the poor health of conscripts and draft dodging.5 A reserve service and a reformed alternative service were introduced to provide as many men as possible with some military training and to ensure a supply of conscripts and volunteers for military service.6

Under an amendment to the Law on Universal Military Service in December 2002, the reformed alternative service came into effect in the first draft in 2003. Conscientious objectors from three specific religious groups are allowed to undertake 24 months of non-military service, or 18 months for those with a higher education. They must still take training courses to master a military skill that does not involve bearing arms before they start alternative service, which may be undertaken in various sectors, including in the disaster and emergency services.7 Previously, members of some religious groups faced fines for opposing military service and were barred from alternative service, and those undertaking alternative service were not paid properly.8

Parliament approved the Law on Service in the Armed Forces Reserve in April 2003.9 In June 2003 it was decreed that draftees could pay a fee to be exempted from standard military conscription and join the new "mobilizationconscription" reserve. Reservists are assigned to military units for a period of training that counts as their military service.10 The unspecified duration of training has reportedly been about one month.11

The minimum age for voluntary recruitment in the armed forces appeared to be 18 or over, as recruits must complete mandatory military service before they are selected for voluntary service, although there did not appear to be any specific legislative provision on the minimum age.12 There were no reports of under-18s in the armed forces.

Military training and military schools

A committee of government ministers is in charge of conscription and pre-conscription training and education in secondary schools, military schools and reservist training centres. Local officials have operational control in areas including civil protection training, physical training and patriotic education.13 In schools, boys start military-patriotic training, which reportedly does not include weapons handling, at the age of about 14 or 15.

In February 2004 an organization called Jar was reported to be training orphans as "cadets", providing physical and martial arts training.14

1 Amnesty International Reports 2002, 2003 and 2004,

2 Constitution, at Presidential press service,

3 RFE/RL (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty), Newsline, "Calls for smaller, but more professional army", 30 August 2002; Roger N. McDermott, "The Armed Forces of Uzbekistan 1992-2002", Journal of Slavic Military Studies, Vol. 16, No. 2, June 2003; Tashkent Molodezh Uzbekistana, 16 January 2003, Post-Soviet Armies Newsletter,

4 Sergei Mazurenko, Civil military relations in Uzbekistan and armed forces reforming, Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces, April 2003,

5 Henry Plater-Zyberk, Uzbekistan – Old threats and new allies, January 2003, Conflict Studies Research Centre,

6 Uzbekistan Daily Digest, "Alternative military service to be reviewed in Uzbekistan, official says", 3 September 2002,

7 RFE/RL, Newsline, "Uzbekistan introduces alternative military service", 2 June 2003; Resolution on Alternative Service (in Russian), 11 March 2003, at Law Reform in Transition States,

8 Felix Corley, "Uzbekistan: Jehovah's Witnesses criticise conscientious objector trials", Keston News Service, 6 April 2001,

9 Presidential Press Service, "Oliy Majlis News", 28 April 2004,; Sergei Mazurenko, op. cit.

10 RFE/RL, Newsline, "Fee instituted for military reserve in Uzbekistan", 18 June 2003.

11 Confidential source, 23 March 2004.

12 Uzbekistan Daily Digest, op. cit.

13 Sergei Mazurenko, op. cit.

14 Confidential source, op. cit.

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