Population: 26.6 million (10.7 million under 18)
Government Armed Forces: ±55,000
Compulsary Recruitment Age: 18
Voluntary Recruitment Age: 18
Voting Age: 18
Optional Protocol: not signed
Other Treaties: GC AP I, GC AP II, CRC


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

Context:

On 13 May 2005 hundreds of people were killed when security forces fired on mainly peaceful demonstrators in Andijon. Early that morning armed men had taken over the regional government building and broken into the prison, releasing hundreds of prisoners, who included 23 Islamic businessmen on trial for alleged links with what the authorities claimed to be a group called Akramia involved in terrorism. The armed men were among thousands of people who during the day gathered in the main square to protest against poverty and government repression, when the security forces sealed off the square and fired indiscriminately on the crowd.1 Eyewitness accounts indicated that as many as 300 or more people were killed.2 According to the government, 187 people were killed, most of them militants and security officials.3 Following the killings, there was a crackdown on the activities of independent journalists and human rights activists, including widespread torture of detainees.4

Remaining elements of the armed opposition group, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), had since 2002 been based in the Pakistani region of Waziristan, bordering Afghanistan. The IMU advocated the forceful overthrow of President Karimov of Uzbekistan and the establishment of an Islamic state, and in 1999 and 2000 had carried out attacks in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan from bases in Afghanistan.5 An IMU breakaway group, the Islamic Jihad Group (IJG) (alternatively known by other names such as the Islamic Jihad Union, and the Jamaat of Central Asia Mujahadins), was believed to have been responsible for a series of bombings and shootings in Tashkent, the capital, in March and April 2004.6 In May 2006 armed men, claimed by officials to be linked to the IMU, raided a Tajik-Kyrgyz frontier post; several of the attackers and Tajik and Kyrgyz security forces were killed in the ensuing fighting.7 In early 2007 there were reports of fighting among elements of the IMU and troops and local tribespeople in Waziristan, but the extent of the fighting and any IMU involvement was unclear.8

Uzbekistan was a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), established in June 2001, comprising also China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation, and Tajikistan, whose goals included mutual co-operation in security matters.9

Government:

National recruitment legislation and practice

Military recruitment was regulated by the 2002 Law on Universal Military Service, which was amended in 2006, transferring the management of conscription from the government to the Presidential Administration. The law governed pre-conscription preparation, conscription, voluntary service, mobilization of reserves, alternative service and military regulations. The minimum age for conscription was 18. There were no reports of under-age recruitment. Moves were made towards establishing a non-conscript military.10

Corruption in the conscription system was common. Although in Tashkent young people paid bribes to be able to avoid military service, in rural areas where unemployment was rife bribes were paid to be conscripted and have the possibility of work in law enforcement, customs or the military.11

The army was the largest in the region, was well financed, and provided soldiers with subsidies for their families and future job opportunities.12 Spending on soldiers' pay increased sharply in the months following the Andijon events.13

Military training and military schools

A new decree in April 2005 was aimed at improving military education. A new faculty was established at the Tashkent University of Information Technology on the use of radio air defences, accepting students under 25 after military service, or military-school graduates from 17-21 years of age.14

In 2006 there were overall more than six applicants for every place in the four military colleges (general, air force, motor-artillery and tank), and over eight for every place in the air force college specifically.15 The best college graduates were admitted to the Armed Forces Academy.16 In January 2007 it was reported that a number of schools had been established to train non-commissioned officers.17

An increase from 11 to 12 years in the duration of compulsory education in 2005 allowed students to spend nine years at a standard school, and a further three in an academic lyceum or professional training college.18 Students aged about 17-18 took pre-conscription army training in grades 11 and 12 at the new professional colleges or lyceums, which included basic military skills and one lesson in firing automatic weapons at a firing range.19

There were also informal military-related activities in schools, including a national sport and military competition aimed at preparing boys aged about 11-16 for military service, in which teams fired airguns and threw grenades.20 In 2005 more than 350,000 children participated.21

Armed Groups:

There were no reports of the recruitment or use of under-18s in armed groups within or outside Uzbekistan. Pakistani military sources in 2004 claimed that armed groups operating in Pakistan were increasingly recruiting teenagers from Central Asia, but these claims were disputed and could not be confirmed.22 Children and young people were among those killed in the violence in Tashkent in 2004, and five infants and children were detained alongside family members arrested on suspicion of preparing explosives.23 Children were reported to have been among those killed in Andijon in May 2005, among those subsequently detained by the authorities, and among the refugees who fled abroad.24

Developments:

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child urged Uzbekistan to ratify the Optional Protocol.25


* Titles of non-English-language sources have been translated by the Coalition.

1 International Crisis Group (ICG), Uzbekistan: The Andijon Uprising, Asia Briefing No. 38, 25 May 2005, www.crisisgroup.org; Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Preliminary Findings on the Events in Andijan, Uzbekistan, 13 May 2005, 20 June 2005, www.osce.org; Amnesty International Report 2006; Human Rights Watch World Report 2006; C.J. Chivers and Ethan Wilensky-Lanford, "Video of ill-fated Uzbek rising offers haunting, complex view", New York Times, 22 June 2006.

2 Amnesty International Report 2006.

3 "Uzbekistan rejects accusations over Andijon trials", AFP, 26 December 2005, at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), www.rferl.org.

4 See, for example, Human Rights Watch World Report 2007.

5 ICG, Uzbekistan: Stagnation and Uncertainty, Asia Briefing No. 67, August 2007.

6 Jim Nichol, Central Asia: Regional Developments and Implications for U.S. Interests, Congressional Research Service, 5 June 2006, http://fpc.state.gov; see also ICG, Uzbekistan: Stagnation and Uncertainty, above note 5.

7 Dadodjan Azimov, "Are Islamic militants regrouping in the Fergana Valley?", Institute of War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), 1 December 2006, www.iwpr.net; see also Amnesty International Report 2007, entry on Kyrgyzstan.

8 Daniel Kimmage, "Central Asia: has IMU reached the end of the line?", RFE/RL, 30 March 2007. For alternative interpretations see Joshua Foust, "What's the real story in Waziristan?", Registan.net, 7 April 2007, www.registan.net. See also ICG, Uzbekistan: Stagnation and Uncertainty, above note 5.

9 Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, www.sectsco.org.

10 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "To protect and preserve independence is our holy duty", Narodnoe Slovo, 11 August 2006, www.mfa.uz; "The results are deserved and the perspectives are wide", Uzbekistan Today, 12 January 2007, www.ut.uz.

11 Correspondence from confidential source, Uzbekistan, April 2007.

12 Oleg Sidirov, "The armed forces of the republic of Uzbekistan yesterday and today", Gazeta.kz, 8 February 2007, www.gazeta.kz.

13 "Uzbek military personnel set to receive big pay raise", Eurasianet, 30 August 2005, www.eurasianet.org.

14 Uzbekistan National News Agency (UzA), "Innovation in higher military education", Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 4 May 2005, www.mfa.uz.

15 Sidirov, above note 12; Press-uz.info, "The Ministry of Defence reports strong competition for place in military colleges", Gazeta.uz, 11 July 2006, http://gzt.uz.

16 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, "Towards Constitution Day of the Republic of Uzbekistan: Defending the Independence of the Homeland", Narodnoe Slovo, 25 November 2006, at http://jahon.mfa.uz.

17 Anna Ivanova and Norali Ochilov, "Reliable defenders of our independence", Pravda Vostoka, 15 January 2007, www.pv.uz.

18 Second periodic report of Uzbekistan to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, UN Doc. CRC/C/104/Add.6, 30 August 2005.

19 Correspondence from confidential source, Uzbekistan, April 2007.

20 "Regional military sports competition 'shunkorlar' has taken place", UzA, 10 April 2007, www.uza.uz; see also "Pupils are preparing to become defenders of the homeland", website of Nukus School 11, 16 September 2005, http://nukus11.connect.uz.

21 "'Kamolot', youth and military patriotism", UzA, 9 January 2006.

22 See, for example, "Tale of a lost militant", Reuters, 15 December 2004; "Qaeda using children for terrorism", Daily Times (Pakistan), 26 November 2004, both at www.dailytimes.com.pk (for more detail see Tajikistan entry).

23 Doug Burton, "Religious fanaticism fuels Uzbek blasts", Washington Times, 31 July 2004, www.washingtontimes.com; Asia Monitor Centre, "Uzbekistan: chronicle of terror", 5 April 2004, www.ames.kiev.ua.

24 Reza Hossaini, "An eyewitness account from Andijan", UNICEF, 24 May 2005, www.unicef.org; "Uzbekistan: Andijon refugees in Romania await third-country resettlement", IRIN, 10 November 2005, www.irinnews.org.

25 Committee on the Rights of the Child, Consideration of second periodic report submitted by Uzbekistan, Concluding observations, UN Doc. CRC/C/UZB/CO/2, 2 June 2006.

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