In Uzbekistan, freedom of assembly is regulated by the Decree of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR No. 9306-XI of July 28, 1998, «On the Procedure for Organizing and Conducting Assemblies, Rallies, Marches and Demonstrations in the USSR». Prior authorization regarding the holding of peaceful assemblies is required.
Procedure for organizing meetings
- organizers of meetings must be citizens of Uzbekistan who have reached the legal age;
- a notification of the organization shall be submitted at least 10 days prior to the date on which the planned meeting is to take place;
- the local authorities must process an application and communicate their decision to organizers of the meeting not later than 5 working days prior to the beginning of the event;
- organizers do not bear any expenses for the holding of the event.
What is allowed:
Most of the provisions that we have analyzed are missing from the Soviet decree. For instance, it does not mention the right to hold meetings nearby government buildings and courthouses, to hold meetings in the night-time, to cover faces, or hold simultaneous assemblies.
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Restrictions on the right to freedom of assembly
It is prohibited:
- to hold spontaneous meetings without prior authorization;
- to organize meetings which purposes contradict norms of the constitution or endanger national security or public safety.
- non-compliance with the requirements for public assemblies shall entail arrest for up to 15 days or a fine in the amount of up to $1707;
- the participants face a fine of up to $213;
- in case of repeated violation, organizers who already have been held administratively liable shall face criminal liability in the form of a $64-4 fine, or compulsory community service up to three hundred and sixty hours, or imprisonment for a period of up to 3 years;
- the public officials face fines of up to $320.
Penalty amount calculations are based on the base calculated value in Uzbekistan as of December 14, 2020 (223 000 soums).
Commentaries of experts and participants of public events
Journalists and human rights activists from Uzbekistan consider the right to freedom of peaceful assembly to be severely limited. According to our respondents, authorities interpret public assemblies as a threat, thus do not authorize them. The law enforcement agencies suppress even those types of public expression that don’t require prior authorization, such as one-person protests.
The human rights activists note that the last large mass assembly took place more than 10 years ago. Currently, the Uzbekistan citizens occasionally join spontaneous protests over social issues, but these assemblies get rapidly suppressed by police. Assembly activists get fined for participating in the protests; the amount of fine can reach several thousand USD.
Our respondents do not mention any cases of judicial appeal against the actions of the authorities or law enforcement agencies. They state that the Uzbekistan authorities ignore the recommendations of international human rights organizations.
Currently, the freedom of assembly in the country is subject to the decree dating back to the Soviet time, but this summer a new bill was drafted in Uzbekistan, called «On Citizen Rallies, Assemblies and Demonstrations». Therein, much stricter limitations on holding peaceful assemblies are spelled out. For instance, the authors of the bill suggest submitting a notification about the event no later than 30 working days prior to its beginning, intend to forbid holding rallies within a 500-meter radius from the government buildings, and plan to limit the allowed time for carrying out mass assemblies to weekdays from 10 am till 5 pm.