U.S. Statement at the UPR of Uzbekistan

As delivered by Michele Roulbet

30th Session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Working Group
Geneva, May 9, 2018

The United States welcomes the delegation of Uzbekistan.

We commend the Government for steps taken to expand space for civil society, such as new respect for religious freedoms, relaxed media restrictions, new public feedback mechanisms, and cooperation with activists.

We laud the government’s important recent steps to reduce structural challenges for NGOs. These changes, if implemented, will greatly improve the environment for civil society organizations in the country, and we expect both the government and the people to benefit from more robust civil society activity.

We urge the Government to continue reforms, including efforts to end torture, and to continue engaging with special mandate holders. We encourage the government to invite the Special Rapporteur on Torture, and seek his recommendations.

We also note with concern wide-ranging restrictions on peaceful religious activity.  So-called religious “extremism” penalties are applied to peaceful religious activities, and religious literature and discussions without government approval are banned.

We welcome Uzbekistan’s commitment to eliminate forced labor from the annual cotton harvest. Yet, we are concerned by reports that instances of adult forced labor continue.

The United States recommends that Uzbekistan:

  1. Fully implement the President’s May 4 decree.
  2. Revise so-called religious “extremism” laws to de-criminalize peaceful religious activities, simplify registration requirements for religious groups,and remove penalties on religious literature communications.
  3. End forced labor by ensuring the consistent implementation of new labor protections, including by local governments.