In Uzbekistan, from the moment it gained independence and state sovereignty, giving the internal affairs bodies the status of a truly popular structure designed to protect the rights and legitimate interests of citizens has become one of the priority areas of state policy.
In this direction, large-scale and radical reforms were implemented, the entire system of internal affairs bodies was modernized, during which the main attention was paid to the introduction of democratic principles and the best police practices of developed countries into the activities of this law enforcement structure.
At the same time, this activity is characterized by the following main trends.
At the first stage of these reforms, the formation of a national system of internal affairs bodies took place, during which the main thing was to form the basic foundations for the functioning of this system. In this connection, in fact, in the first days of independence, the government decision approved the legal basis for the activities of internal affairs bodies – the Charter of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and its structure. Measures were taken to strengthen the personnel of internal affairs bodies with highly qualified specialists, create the necessary material and technical base, and introduce a system for training national personnel. In 1993, the Higher Technical School of Fire Safety was created, and in 1994, the Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic.
In 1994, Uzbekistan joined the international law enforcement organization Interpol, which created the opportunity to cooperate with foreign countries and use the forces and means of neighboring states in the fight against transnational crime.
It was at this stage that the internal affairs bodies assumed special responsibility for ensuring law and order and protecting the population due to the significant deterioration of the crime situation in the country. These include mass unrest in the Fergana and Tashkent regions in the early 90s of the last century, terrorist attacks in the late 90s in Tashkent and the Khorezm region.
In the late 90s and early 2000s, extremist forces became especially active: the terrorist organization “Islamic Movement of Turkestan”, “Islom Zhikhodiy Etikodi”, and the religious extremist movement “Akromiya”.
This period also saw the “heyday” of organized crime, which sought not only to take control of trade and business structures, but also to become a kind of “judge” in disputes between citizens.
Thanks to the decisive political will of the country’s leadership, in a relatively short period of the early 2000s, the crime situation in the republic changed radically.
A decisive struggle was declared to eradicate all forms and types of organized crime, including those associated with religious extremism. As a result, from 2010 to the present, Uzbekistan has been among the leading countries in various ratings (Global Rule of Law Index of the international independent organization “The World Justice Project”; World Law and Order Index of the Gallup’s International Research Institute; Company Health and Safety Index International SOS, etc.).
In addition, in the early 2000s, resolutions of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the Government were adopted aimed at radically reforming the system of internal affairs bodies. These structural transformations concerned, first of all, the implementation of tasks related to the protection of public order, the prevention of crime, the fight against any manifestations of crime, ensuring the duration and phasing of democratic reforms, in a word, the implementation of the principle: “From a strong state to a strong civil society” .
A completely new concept was introduced in the capital to ensure public order and the safety of citizens, according to which, instead of the previously existing district police inspectors, a staff of prevention inspectors was established, and “Makhalla Posbons” and “Conciliation Commissions” were created. This contributed to strengthening the interaction of internal affairs bodies with the public in the fight against crime and its prevention at the local level.
However, the most fundamental changes in the system of internal affairs bodies have been implemented over the past seven years. Thanks to the initiatives of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Sh.M. Mirziyoyev, the general philosophy of all activities of the internal affairs bodies was changed, in which the main goal of this structure was to serve the interests of the people.
Thus, it was on the initiative of the Head of State that, for the first time in our history, the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On Internal Affairs Bodies” was developed and adopted, which created new legislative frameworks that meet international standards and the best practices of developed democratic countries. In particular, at the legislative level, it clearly defined the duties and rights of internal affairs bodies, strictly regulated the grounds and procedure for the use of coercive measures by internal affairs bodies, including the detention of persons, cordoning off areas, residential premises, and the use of vehicles of organizations and citizens.
A special place in the law is given to the issue of ensuring the correct use of physical force, special means and firearms by internal affairs officers.
Another important document in the activities of internal affairs bodies is the Action Strategy for five priority areas of development of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 2017-2021. In the Strategy, one of these priorities was to ensure the rule of law and further reform of the judicial and legal system, in which a special role is assigned to internal affairs bodies. Here, the most important thing for internal affairs bodies is strengthening guarantees of reliable protection of the rights and freedoms of citizens, increasing the effectiveness of the system for combating crime and preventing offenses
Based on the large-scale reforms carried out during this period, 6 laws, more than 30 decrees, resolutions, instructions of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, as well as more than 150 government and departmental regulations were adopted.
An institutional approach to the tasks and functions of the structural services of the ministry and regional divisions, the widespread introduction of modern information and communication technologies into the system, strengthening the material and technical base, social protection of employees, improving their living conditions – all these are practical measures that contribute to the full implementation of official tasks.
Today, measures such as reports by management personnel to the public on the results of their activities and organizational measures aimed at ensuring openness and transparency of the system serve to increase the responsibility of employees.
The transformations carried out in the system of internal affairs bodies are under the close attention of the head of state. During visits to the regions, the head of the country, as a rule, is interested in the activities of employees of internal affairs bodies, primarily, the work of prevention inspectors, and the social conditions created for them. Issues related to the activities of employees are constantly discussed at meetings with the participation of the President.
At a video conference meeting held on January 10, 2019 under the chairmanship of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Sh. Mirziyoyev, work in this direction was subject to critical discussion. The Ministry of Internal Affairs was given a number of tasks to improve its activities and was instructed, based on an in-depth analysis, to develop a “Road Map” to eliminate existing shortcomings.
To prevent crime and effectively combat crime, based on local conditions, a system of “regional practices” has been introduced. Research work was carried out in areas with a difficult crime situation. The tasks have been set to develop methodological manuals on criminogenic forecasting of the state of crime.
To increase the effectiveness of local crime prevention, special attention is paid to working with unorganized youth and women. In addition, based on the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On the Protection of Women from Harassment and Violence” dated September 2, 2019, women who have suffered from harassment and violence are provided for the issuance of a protection order.
In order to solve the problems of our population, special attention is paid to the widespread introduction of modern information and communication technologies into the activities of police departments. For the convenience of the population when obtaining passports and obtaining citizenship, an electronic queue system has been introduced.
The opportunity has been created for citizens to file a complaint about the inappropriate actions of some internal affairs officers and to report facts related to human trafficking.
In order to ensure openness and transparency of the activities of internal affairs bodies, more than 20 websites operate in the system, and over 100 web pages on social networks.
Other fundamental changes were also implemented in the system of internal affairs bodies.
Thus, its structure was significantly optimized, departments were created in the most important areas of activity.
Quite effective mechanisms have been created to protect the rights of citizens and prevent unlawful actions against them in pre-trial detention centers and investigative offices.
The lower levels of the internal affairs bodies have been significantly strengthened, which, on the initiative of the Head of State, have become important links in the implementation of various state concepts for regional development: “Safe City”, work based on the principle of “makhallabay”, “iron books” for recording women, youth, young families, those in need of social support.
The most important transformations in the activities of internal affairs bodies are associated with the constitutional reform carried out in 2023 and the adoption of the Uzbekistan-2030 Strategy.
In particular, at the constitutional level the following principles of law enforcement agencies, generally recognized in international law and the democratic community, are enshrined:
1) the right to life is an inalienable right of every person and is protected by law. An attack on human life is a grave crime;
2) the honor and dignity of a person are inviolable. Nothing can be a reason to belittle them. No one may be subjected to torture, violence, or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
3) no one may be subjected to arrest, detention, detention, detention or other restriction of freedom except on the basis of the law. Arrest, detention and detention are permitted only by court decision. Without a court decision, a person cannot be detained for more than forty-eight hours. When a person is detained, his rights and the grounds for detention must be explained to him in a language he understands;
4) a person accused of committing a crime is considered innocent until his guilt is proven through a public trial in the manner prescribed by law and established by a court verdict that has entered into legal force. The accused is provided with all opportunities for his defense. All doubts about guilt, if the possibilities to eliminate them have been exhausted, must be resolved in favor of the suspect, accused, defendant or convicted person. A suspect, accused or defendant is not required to prove his innocence and can exercise the right to remain silent at any time. No one is obliged to testify against himself or his close relatives. A person cannot be found guilty or punished if his admission of guilt is the only evidence against him. Persons deprived of their liberty have the right to be treated humanely and with respect for the honor and dignity inherent in the human person. A person’s criminal record and the resulting legal consequences cannot be a basis for limiting the rights of his relatives.
5) a suspect, accused or defendant has the right to be informed about the essence and grounds of the accusation, to demand the interrogation of persons testifying against him or in his favor, and to have the assistance of an interpreter. In the administration of justice, the use of evidence obtained in violation of the law is not permitted. The rights of victims of crime are protected by law. The state provides victims with protection and access to justice, creates conditions for compensation for the harm caused to them;
6) everyone has the right to the inviolability of their home. No one may enter a home against the will of the persons living there. Penetration into a home, as well as seizure and inspection thereof, is permitted only in cases and in the manner prescribed by law. A search of a home is permitted only in accordance with the law and on the basis of a court decision.
The institutions of Habeas Corpus and the Miranda Rule were significantly strengthened.
The leadership of the Ministry of Internal Affairs has taken all necessary measures to ensure that these constitutional provisions become the norm of life, the basic rule for every employee of the internal affairs bodies.
The “Uzbekistan-2030” strategy not only strengthened the importance of these constitutional provisions, but also provides a mechanism for their implementation in the daily life of every employee of the internal affairs bodies.
Thus, two of the five main ideas of the Strategy are the construction of a fair and modern state serving the people, as well as guaranteed provision of the sovereignty and security of the country, which concern, among other things (and perhaps primarily) such a state body as the internal affairs bodies.
To implement these ideas, the Strategy defines specific goals and a mechanism for achieving them. Thus, to achieve such a goal as directing the activities of law enforcement agencies to protect interests, honor, dignity and human rights, the following is provided:
- Introducing the possibility of monitoring the process through an individual number and QR code – from the initiation of a criminal case to the passing of a sentence by creating a Unified Electronic Register.
- Complete digitalization of activities for collecting and consolidating evidence through the introduction of modern technologies and the latest scientific achievements.
- Reducing by at least 50 percent the number of road traffic accidents with serious consequences.
- Maintaining an electronic version of 100 percent of criminal cases and materials, ensuring electronic document flow in these cases.
Of course, the constitutional reform carried out and the adopted Strategy “Uzbekistan-2030” are only the first steps towards the formation of a new image of the country – New Uzbekistan and its important body – the internal affairs bodies. There is still a long way to go and systematic measures to finally form the internal affairs bodies as a truly popular structure that guards the interests of the people. However, we can say with confidence that all the reforms we are implementing indicate the irreversibility of these processes aimed at ensuring that the internal affairs bodies become an integral and important component of Uzbekistan as a democratic state governed by the rule of law.