Population: 28,100,000
Capital: Tashkent

Political Rights: 7
Civil Liberties: 7
Status: Not Free

Ten-Year Ratings Timeline for Year under Review
(Political Rights, Civil Liberties, Status)
Year Under Review2001200220032004200520062007200820092010

2010 Key Developments: Uzbekistan's government continued to suppress all political opposition and restrict independent business activity in 2010, and the few remaining civic activists and critical journalists in the country faced prosecution, fines, and lengthy prison terms. Nevertheless, the regime maintained relatively good relations with the United States and Europe as it provided logistical support for NATO operations in Afghanistan.

Political Rights: Uzbekistan is not an electoral democracy. President Islam Karimov and the executive branch dominate the legislature and judiciary, and the government severely represses all political opposition. Karimov's most recent reelection in December 2007 apparently flouted constitutional rules on term limits. Only four political parties, all progovernment, are registered, and no genuine opposition parties function legally. Members of unregistered opposition groups are subject to discrimination, and many live in exile abroad. In December 2010, police detained and questioned 15 people who met to try to establish a new political party. Corruption is pervasive.

Civil Liberties: Despite constitutional guarantees, freedoms of speech and the press are severely restricted. The state controls major media outlets and related facilities. The government permits the existence of mainstream religions, including approved Muslim, Jewish, and Christian denominations, but treats unregistered activities as a criminal offense. The state exercises strict control over Islamic worship, including the content of sermons. Suspected members of banned Muslim organizations and their relatives have been subjected to arrest, interrogation, and torture. The government reportedly limits academic freedom. Bribes are commonly required to gain entrance to exclusive universities and obtain good grades. Open and free private discussion is limited by the mahalla committees – traditional neighborhood organizations that the government has turned into an official system for public surveillance and control. Despite constitutional provisions for freedom of assembly, the authorities severely restrict this right in practice. Freedom of association is tightly constrained, and unregistered organizations face extreme difficulties and harassment. Anti-AIDS activist Maksim Popov was sentenced to a seven-year prison term in January 2010 for distributing informational materials that were deemed incompatible with local traditions. The judiciary is subservient to the president, who appoints all judges and can remove them at any time. Prisons suffer from severe overcrowding and shortages of food and medicine. As with detained suspects, prison inmates – particularly those sentenced for their religious beliefs – are often subjected to abuse or torture. In January 2010, prosecutors opened a case on the alleged 2009 gang rape of three sisters while they were in custody, but the resulting criminal charges against 12 policemen were dropped in April. Restrictions on foreign travel include the use of exit visas, which are often issued selectively. Women's educational and professional prospects are limited by cultural and religious norms and by ongoing economic difficulties. The trafficking of women abroad for prostitution remains a serious problem. Despite legislation passed in 2009 imposing tougher penalties for child labor, the practice reportedly remained widespread during subsequent cotton harvests.

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