Update: Two recent regulatory developments – the adoption of a law and the approval of new regulation -represent a deterioration in the civil society legal environment.
On June 15, 2016, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) approved a new implementing "Regulation on the Procedure of Coordination of Receipt of Monetary and Other Assets by Non-governmental Non-commercial Organizations (NNOs) When Such Assets are Received from Foreign States, International and Foreign Organizations, Citizens of Foreign States, or From Other Persons, Authorized by the Mentioned Above Persons (Regulation)". The Regulation came into effect on June 20, 2016. The Regulation establishes a procedure of obtaining approval from the MoJ for assets received by NNOs from foreign sources. The Regulation is adopted in implementation of Article 8 of the Law on Non-governmental Non-commercial Organizations (Law on NNOs). According to the Regulation, all NNOs, including foreign NNOs (FNNO), with registered offices in Uzbekistan are required to obtain the MoJ’s approval in order to receive assets from any foreign source. This new procedure provided in the Regulation is not a replacement, but an addition to the already-existing, extremely burdensome procedure of obtaining permission to receive foreign aid, involving obtaining approvals from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Banking Commission. The Regulation further complicates the receipt of funds by NNOs from foreign sources.
On April 25, 2016, the government adopted the Law on Introduction of Amendments to Some Legislative Acts, which introduces amendments to the Law on Non-Governmental Non-Commercial Organizations (Law on NNOs), the Law on Public Foundations, the Law on Bank Secrecy, the Law on Charity, and the Code of Administrative Liability. Specifically, the new law requires organizations to notify the government about planned trips of CSO representatives to foreign countries, and requires organizations to obtain approval for the receipt of all funds and assets from foreign states, organizations, and citizens.
After Uzbekistan became an independent republic in 1991, the process of developing civil society began. More than twenty years later, however, civil society does not yet play a vibrant role in the country. The Government of Uzbekistan views the civic sector with suspicion. Indeed, most foreign and international NGOs which had operated in the country during the 1990s and early 2000s have now been closed and expelled from the country. In 2005, the Government mandated a process of re-registration for NGOs, which led to a significant reduction in the number of NGOs in the country. One of the last international organizations in Uzbekistan - the representative office of Human Rights Watch in Uzbekistan - was closed by a court decision on the 9 June 2011. In 2013 a number of organizations were reportedly subject to "a new wave of inspections" by the Ministry of Justice of Uzbekistan (MoJ) and the country's tax authorities.
Despite these negative trends, remaining NGOs continue to expand their activities. And, until 2015, there were signs that the Government was reconsidering its approach toward civil society. On December 12, 2013 Uzbek President Islam Karimov adopted a Decree on Additional Measures to Promote the Development of Civil Society Institutions, which contains progressive provisions aimed at simplifying procedures for NGO registration, reducing registration fees for NGOs by 80%, and reducing the time period for government review of registration applications from two months to one month. The Decree also reduces the grounds for dissolution.
In addition, President Karimov issued a state policy document  that recognized the importance and usefulness of establishing and developing civil society institutions and NGOs in Uzbekistan According to this report, the government was assigned to draft several laws, including the Law on Social Partnership, Law on Social Control, and Law on Openness of Activities of Governmental Bodies. Two of these laws --Law on Openness of Activities of Governmental Bodies and Law on Social Partnership -- were adopted in 2014. These laws would aim to strengthen public participation, access to information, transparency in activities of government bodies, and NGO-Government partnerships. In 2013, the Parliamentary Commission in Support of NGOs distributed funding, including through grant competitions, to NGOs in a total amount of 7 billion som (approximately $3,175,000). More than 275 NGOs received funds, although 34.1% of these resources were distributed without competition to GONGOs such as NANNOUz, NIMFOGO, and Public Fund of Support and Development of Independent Mass Media. In addition, in 2014, the President signed a series of laws and regulations which, for the most part, improved the legal environment for NGOs in the country.
In Uzbekistan, as in other countries of the former Soviet Union, the legal framework is based on the civil law tradition. Legislation governing NGOs generally includes statements of support and protection for NGOs. For example, the Constitution clearly sets forth the right of freedom association, and several laws declare a wide scope of rights and possibilities for NGOs. At the same time, however, implementing regulations and implementation practice usually serve to undermine the stated intentions of the laws themselves, and this may prove to be the case for the enabling laws that the President signed in 2014. Therefore, close scrutiny must be given to laws to ensure implementation is favorable to NGOs.
 The Concept of the Further Deepening of the Democratic Reforms and the Formation of the Civil Society in the Country was presented at the joint session of the Legislative Chamber and the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of Uzbekistan on November 12, 2010, in Tashkent.
|Organizational Forms||Non-Governmental Non-commercial Organizations (NGOs), which include public associations, public funds, institutions and associations of NGOs|
|Registration Body||Ministry of Justice|
Number of registered NGOs is unknown. According to the Uzbek government reports, there were over 6,000 CSOs in Uzbekistan as of November 2013. This number includes multiple branches of such groups as Kamolot Public Youth Movement, Uzbekistan’s Women Committee, Independent Institute of Monitoring of Establishment of Civil Society (NIMFAGO), Makhalla Fund, and National Association of Non-governmental Non-commercial Organizations (NANNOUz), among others, which are subsidized and controlled by the government.
|Barriers to Entry||
(1) Mandatory registration; unregistered group activities prohibited;
|Barriers to Activities||(1) Burdensome and vague reporting requirements;
(2) NGO obligation to ensure governmental access to all activities;
(3) Advance governmental approval required for particular NGO activities;
(4) Harsh sanctions for violation of law.
|Barriers to Speech and/or Advocacy||In practice, the Government may act against NGOs that engage in certain kinds of advocacy activity.|
|Barriers to International Contact||(1) Advance governmental approval required for conferences, international participants, etc.;
(2) Limited access to certain websites.
|Barriers to Resources||Limits on foreign funding|
|Barriers to Assembly||Regulations vague or nonexistent; severe punishments and the threat of use of force deter protests.|
|Population||27,606,077 (July 2009 est.)|
|Type of Government||Republic; authoritarian presidential rule, with little power outside the executive branch|
|Life Expectancy at Birth||Male: 68.95 years
Female: 75.15 years
|Literacy Rate||Male: 99.6%
Female: 99% (2003 est.)
|Religious Groups||Muslim: 88% (mostly Sunnis); Eastern Orthodox: 9%; other: 3%|
|Ethnic Groups||Uzbek: 80%; Russian: 5.5%; Tajik: 5%; Kazakh: 3%; Karakalpak: 2.5%; Tatar: 1.5%; other: 2.5% (1996 est.)|
|GDP per capita||$2,600 (2008 est.)|
Source: The World Factbook. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency, 2009.
|Ranking Body||Rank||Ranking Scale
(best – worst possible)
|UN Human Development Index||114 (2015)||1 – 182|
|World Bank Rule of Law Index||12 (2015)||100 – 0|
|World Bank Voice & Accountability Index||2.5 (2015)||100 – 0|
|Transparency International||153 (2015)||1 – 168|
|Freedom House: Freedom in the World||
Status: "Worst of the Worst"
Political Rights: 7
Civil Liberties: 7 (2016)
|1 – 7
1 – 7
|Foreign Policy: Fragile States Index
||60 (2016)||177 – 1
International and Regional Human Rights Agreements
|Key International Agreements||Ratification*||Year|
|International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||Yes||1995|
|Optional Protocol to ICCPR (ICCPR-OP1)||Yes||1995|
|International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)||Yes||1995|
|Optional Protocol to ICESCR (OP-ICESCR)||No||--|
|International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)||Yes||1995|
|Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)||Yes||1995|
|Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women||No||--|
|Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)||Yes||1994|
|International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (ICRMW)||No||--|
|Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)||No||--|
|CIS Agreement on joint activity in relation to foreign humanitarian aid||Yes||1993|
* Category includes ratification, accession, or succession to the treaty
The Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan  was adopted by the Supreme Council of the Republic of Uzbekistan on December 8, 1992.
Relevant constitutional provisions include:
- Article 30. All state bodies, public associations and officials in the Republic of Uzbekistan shall allow any citizen access to documents, resolutions and other materials, relating to their rights and interests.
- Article 32. All citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan shall have the right to participate in the management and administration of public and state affairs, both directly and through representation. They may exercise this right by way of self-government, referendums and democratic formation of state bodies as well as through development and improvement of public control over the activities of state authorities. The procedure for exercising public control over the activity of state bodies is determined by law.
- Article 33. All citizens shall have the right to engage in public life by holding rallies, meetings and demonstrations in accordance with the legislation of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The bodies of authority shall have the right to suspend or ban such undertakings exclusively on the grounds of security.
- Article 34. All citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan shall have the right to form trade unions, political parties and any other public associations, and to participate in mass movements. No one may infringe on the rights, freedoms and dignity of the individuals, constituting the minority opposition in political parties, public associations and mass movements, as well as in representative bodies of authority.
- Article 56. Trade unions, political parties, and scientific societies, as well as women's, veterans' and youth leagues, professional associations, mass movements and other organizations registered in accordance with the procedure prescribed by law, shall have the status of public associations in the Republic of Uzbekistan.
- Article 57. The formation and functioning of political parties and public associations aiming to do the following shall be prohibited: changing the existing constitutional system by force: coming out against the sovereignty, territorial integrity and security of the Republic, as well as the constitutional rights and freedoms of its citizens; advocating war and social, national, racial and religious hostility, and encroaching on the health and morality of the people, as well as of any armed associations and political parties based on the national or religious principles. All secret societies and associations shall be banned.
- Article 58. The state shall safeguard the rights and lawful interests of public associations and provide them with equal legal possibilities for participating in public life. Interference by state bodies and officials in the activity of public associations, as well as interference by public associations in the activity of state bodies and officials is impermissible.
- Article 59. Trade unions shall express and protect the socio-economic rights and interests of the working people. Membership in trade unions is optional.
- Article 60. Political parties shall express the political will of various sections and groups of the population, and through their democratically elected representatives shall participate in the formation of state authority. Political parties shall submit public reports on their financial sources to the Oliy Majlis or their plenipotentiary body in a prescribed manner.
- Article 61. Religious organizations and associations shall be separated from the state and equal before law. The state shall not interfere with the activity of religious associations.
- Article 62. Public associations may be dissolved or banned, or subject to restricted activity solely by the sentence of a court.
National Laws and Regulations Affecting Sector
Relevant national-level laws and regulations affecting civil society include:
- Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan 02.05.2007 No. ZRU-96 "On charity";
- Law "On guarantees of activity of nongovernmental nonprofit organizations" of the Republic of Uzbekistan No. ZRU-76 03.01.2007;
- Law of the RUz No. 763-I 14.04.1999 "On nongovernmental nonprofit organizations";
- Law of the RUz N 223-XII “On public associations in the Republic of Uzbekistan” 15.02.1991; 
- Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan "On social funds" No. 527-II 29.08.2003;
- Law of the RUz № ЗРУ-96 On Charity dated May 2, 2007;
- “On measures aimed at enhancing support for non-government non-commercial organizations and other civil society institutions”, Joint Decree of the Kengash of the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan and Kengash of the Senate of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan. 03.07.2008 г. N 842-I/513-I;
- Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan 19.01.1998 N 31 “On government support to the development of international scientific technical connections, scientific programs and projects based on the grants from international organizations and funds”. (ICNL online library);
- Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan "On measures to increase reporting effectiveness of financial resources of technical assistance, grants and humanitarian aid received from international, foreign governmental and nongovernmental organizations". 04.02.2004 N. 56;
- The Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan 12.03.1993 No.132 "On regulation of registration of charters of public associations in Republic of Uzbekistan". (English text unavailable);
- Application 1 to the Decree mentioned above the “Rules of processing the applications for charter registration of public associations acting on territory of Republic of Uzbekistan". (English text unavailable);
- The Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan 22.03.1994 No.153 "On regulation of registration of legal entities associations in Republic of Uzbekistan". (English text unavailable);
- The Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan 12.03.1993 No.133 "On regulation of registration of public associations’ symbols in Republic of Uzbekistan". (English text unavailable);
- The Civil Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan (Articles 73-78), dated 29.08.1996 N 257-I;
- The Tax Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan, 25.12.2007 N ZRU-136;
- The Code on administrative responsibility of the Republic of Uzbekistan, 01.04.1995;
- Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, 08.12.1992;
- Resolution by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Measures to Support the Independent Institute for Monitoring the Formation of Civil Society N ПП-1576, 12.07.2011;
- Decree #PP-2085 of December 12, 2013 on Additional Measures to Promote the Development of Civil Society Institutions;
- Decree #205 of July 24, 2014 on Measures of Further Improvement of the Procedures for Organizing and Holding Public Events;
- The Regulation on Procedure on State Registration of Non-Governmental and Non-Commercial Organizations (March 10, 2014);
- The Law on Introduction of Amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan (April 16, 2014);
- The Law on Openness of Activities of Governmental Bodies (May 5, 2014);
- The Law on Social Partnership (September 25, 2014); and
- The Law on Appeals of Individuals and Legal Entities (December 3, 2014).
- Regulation on Procedure for Termination of Activities of Non-commercial Organizations (January 15, 2015)
- Regulation on the procedure of Work with Appeals of Physical and Legal Persons to State Bodies and to State Institutions (by Order of the MoJ # 2679 dd. March 31, 2015)
- New forms of reports for NCOs (by Order of the MoJ # 2680 dd. June 4, 2015)
- Amendments to the Accreditation Procedure for Foreign Employees of NCOs (by the Order of the MoJ , # 2681 dd. June 4, 2015)
- Regulation on Procedure of Coordination of NNOs’ Activities (adopted on June 4, 2015)
- Amendments to the Law on on NNOs, the Law on Public Foundations, the Law on Bank Secrecy, the Law on Charity, and the Code of Administrative Liability (April 25, 2016)
- Law on Parliamentary Control (adopted on April 11, 2016)
Pending NGO Legislative / Regulatory InitiativesThe draft Law on Social Control, which was officially introduced to the Parliament in November 2015, is still pending the endorsement of Parliament. The Committee on Democratic Institutions established a working group, which held a few meetings to discuss the draft law and made recommendations for improvement. In January 2016, the final draft of the Law on Social Control became available; unfortunately, the draft still lacks definitions of social control activities, concrete rights for subjects of social control, as well as enforcement mechanisms to compel state bodies to implement the law’s provisions. It is expected that the law will be adopted by Parliament sometime during the summer of 2016.
While we aim to maintain information that is as current as possible, we realize that situations can rapidly change. If you are aware of any additional information, please keep us informed; write to ICNL at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Civil Code defines a legal entity to include both commercial and non-commercial organizations and contains a list of permissible legal forms, including, among others, the public association, public fund, institution, legal entities’ associations (societies and unions), and citizens’ self-governance body. Mirroring the language of the Civil Code, the Law on NGOs states that non-governmental, non-profit organizations may be established in the following forms: public association, public fund, institution, and other lawful forms provided by legal acts. The Law on Public Associations is the primary law under which NGOs are established and operate. In addition, NGOs may form associations or unions, with the purpose of coordination of their activities, and in order to represent and advocate common interests. NGOs can be established for protecting the rights and lawful interests of natural persons and legal entities; for achieving social, cultural and educational aims; to satisfy spiritual and other non-material needs; and for realizing other public benefit purposes. Founders of an NGO must detail the organizational purposes in the charter of the NGO.
A public association is a voluntary association of citizens (natural persons only) who have joined together for the realization of their common interests in the areas of politics, economics, social development, science, culture, ecology, and other aspects of life (Article 1, the Law “On public associations” and Article 11, the Law “On NGOs”).
A public fund is recognized as a non-membership organization, founded by natural and/or legal persons on the basis of voluntary property contributions, pursuing charitable, social, cultural, educational, or other public benefit purposes (Article 12, the Law “On NGOs” and Article 3, the Law “On Public funds”).
An institution is recognized as an organization established by natural and/or legal persons in order to realize social, cultural and other functions of non-profit nature (Article 13, the Law “On NGOs”). Notably, the legal form of “institution” is a legacy of the Soviet legal system. There are no existing procedural rules in place to establish and register an institution; in practice, therefore, this form is essentially non-existent.
The association (union) of NGOs is a legal entity whose founding members are legal persons (NGOs). It is not possible to establish an association made up of both natural and legal entities simultaneously. Members of associations (unions) have secondary (vicarious) liability on obligations of the overarching association (union); the degree of liability is based on the charter of the association (union).
A citizens’ self-governance body (more commonly known as “mahalla”) is a traditional form of neighborhood organization. The activities of the “mahalla” are governed by the Law "On self-governance bodies".
Uzbek law also categorizes NGOs according to the territorial scope of their activity: international NGOs, which can operate not only in Uzbekistan, but in other countries; republican or inter-regional NGOs, which can operate in several regions of Uzbekistan or throughout the country; and local NGOs, which can operate only in one region or in Tashkent city.
Public Benefit Status
Uzbek law provides for a “charitable organization” status, but it is not linked to fiscal benefits. Instead, all registered NGOs are exempt under tax law from certain taxes and financial obligations. Details follow.
(1) A charitable organization is a non-governmental, non-commercial organization established for the purpose of implementing philanthropic activities in the interest of the public at large as well as in the interest of specific categories of legal entities and physical persons (Article 3 of the Law “On charity”). Charitable organizations may be created in the form of a public association, foundation or in any other form stipulated by legislative acts (Article 6 of the Law “On charity”). Significantly, however, there are no tax or fiscal benefits linked to charitable organization status. Article 14 of the Law “On Charity” declares that government can provide support (e.g., discount on rent, if the accommodation or other property is owned by government; transfer government property to charitable organizations, and so on) to charitable organizations. But there is no legal obligation to provide concrete benefits to charitable organizations.
(2) According to Article 17 of the Tax Code, the term non-commercial organization includes all legal entities that do not seek to gain profit as the main purpose of their activities and do not distribute income (profits) among their members. Through registration, NGOs accrue rights as a legal entity and the status of a non-commercial organization. All non-commercial organizations, irrespective of their organizational legal form, are exempt from the following taxes:
- corporate income (profit) tax, except where NGOs carry out commercial activities (Article 126 of the Tax Code);
- value-added tax, with some exceptions (Article 197 of the Tax Code);
- corporate property tax (Article 265 of the Tax Code);
- land tax (Article 279 of the Tax Code);
- tax on use of water resources (Article 257 of the Tax Code); and
- tax on improvement and development of social infrastructure (Article 295 of the Tax Code).
- compulsory payments to non-budget pension fund (Article 312 of the Tax Code);
- compulsory payments to Republican Road fund (Article 316 of the Tax Code); and
- compulsory payments for school education development (Item 5 of Regulation “On order of calculating and payment of compulsory payments for school education development").
The foregoing fiscal privileges do not generally apply to income generated through the commercial activity of NGOs. Certain categories of NGOs are exempt from several compulsory payments and taxes, even where the NGO carries out economic activity through a corporate subsidiary. For example, enterprises owned by public associations of disabled persons, the Fund “Nuroniy (Нуроний)” and associations of “Chernobolci of Uzbekistan (Чернобольцы Узбекистана)” – if disabled persons make up at least 50% of the total amount of enterprise staff – are exempt from VAT and corporate income (profit) tax (Article 158 of the Tax Code).
Barriers to Entry
There are multiple legal barriers affecting the formation and registration of NGOs in Uzbekistan.
First, registration is mandatory and unregistered group activities are prohibited. An NGO is established only when officially registered (Article 15 of the Law “On NGOs”). Available sanctions for carrying out activities through an unregistered include a fine 50-100 times the minimum wage (Article 239 of the Administrative Code). Active participation in unregistered (i.e., illegal) organizations exposes offenders to a fine 50-100 times the minimum wage or detention of up to six months or imprisonment of up to five years (Article 216 of the Criminal Code).
Second, the registration requirements, which vary according to the organizational form, are more demanding than the registration requirements for commercial organizations. Required documentation is quite detailed. As of January 1, 2014, the registration fee for NGOs is reduced 5 times. This means that the current fees are four minimal monthly incomes for national associations and two minimal monthly incomes for local associations. In contrast, prior to January 1, 2014, in order to register a national level public association it was necessary to pay 20 minimal monthly incomes (1,900,000 som, approximately $863), and in order to register a local public association 10 minimal monthly incomes (950,000 sum, approximately $430) were required. The registration fee for registration of symbols of NGOs has also been reduced 2.5 times the prior amount. No fee is required for registration of branches of NGOs. Organizations of disabled persons, veterans, women’s and youth organizations will only pay half of the registration fee.
Third, the implementing regulations (Rules on Consideration of Applications on Registration of By-laws of Public Associations) allow the registration body “to leave the registration application without consideration,” contrary to the law. Such action does not allow initiative groups to either appeal the denial to court or to re-submit the registration application, leaving them in legal limbo.
Fourth, the registration application, at the discretion of registration bodies, can be sent for “expertise” to other government bodies, which prolongs the registration procedure beyond 2 months allowed for by law for consideration of the registration application (1 month starting from January 1, 2014),
Fifth, the grounds for denial of registration may invite the exercise of excessive government discretion. Specifically, the law allows for denial where the name or symbols of an NGO encroaches on “morality, national or religious feelings of citizens”.
Arguably the most serious barrier to registration is the excessive time delays for government review of applications. The law does define a fixed time period within which the Ministry of Justice must consider and decide on registration applications: one month from the receipt of the application for a public association; not more than one month for a social fund; and ten days for an association of NGOs. According to the “Rules of processing the applications for charter registration of public associations acting on territory of Republic of Uzbekistan,” the period of registration review can be extended by an additional month; this extended period is often missed by the registration body.
The problem of unprocessed applications is aggravated by the inability to appeal. Notably, the refusal of registration can be appealed in a court by law. But where the application is simply unprocessed, the NGO applicant has no ability to appeal and no alternative recourse.
In September 2011, the UN Human Rights Committee held in the case of Kungurov v. Uzbekistan that the procedure in Uzbekistan for registering the non-governmental organization “Democracy and Rights” violated both the right to freedom of expression and the right to freedom of association, under Articles 19 and 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, respectively.
For more information, please see the statement from Article 19.
Barriers to Operational Activity
NGOs are subject to burdensome reporting requirements. According to Article 33 of the Law on NGOs, NGOs must maintain records of the results of their activities, and must submit reports to the registration authorities (Ministry of Justice and its departments), to the statistical authorities, and to the tax authorities. All NGOs are subject to the same detailed reporting standard; there is no simplified reporting form available for small and medium-sized NGOs. The frequency of reporting varies with the category of report; some are required on a monthly basis, some on a quarterly basis, and others on an annual basis.
While clear standards have been set for reporting to the statistical authorities, there is no regulation or legal guideline that defines the reporting procedure to the Ministry of Justice and its departments. In practice, NGOs provide reports to registry bodies every quarter. The required content of the reports may change; In January 2010, for example, NGOs in Tashkent were notified by the Ministry of a new reporting form, which contains 58 questions. Moreover, the tax authorities, as of January 2010, are requiring NGOs that previously used a simplified tax and reporting system to re-calculate their tax obligation and prepare new reports, based on the requirements of the generally established tax system. To complicate matters, NGOs are being given only 10-15 days to accomplish the task.
According to Article 8 of the Law on NGOs, NGOs are obliged to provide access to information on the use of organizational property and financial assets. In addition, NGOs must ensure that the Ministry of Justice has access to all their activities. This provision is problematic in large measure because of its ambiguity; should NGOs notify the registry bodies about all their activities, including internal meetings, or only about public events? The answer is unclear. In practice, NGOs provide information about public events.
The law requires that NGOs seek and secure approval from the Ministry of Justice for particular activities. But the law does not define what particular activities require Ministry approval. This ambiguity in the law obviously creates confusion among NGOs, and gives the Government excessive discretionary power.
This problem is exacerbated by the harsh sanctions available in case of violation of the rule. Specifically, conducting events without the approval of the Ministry of Justice could subject NGOs – that is, the staff members of the NGO – to a fine amounting to 100-150 times the minimum wage.
Severe sanctions are also available for the failure to submit reports, for the late submission of reports, and for the submission of reports in the wrong form. Article 239 of the Administrative Code, applicable to NGOs, provides for a fine amounting to 50-100 times the minimum wage. For-profit companies, by contrast, face a far lighter penalty for the same violation; Article 215, applicable to for-profits, envisions a fine amounting only to 7-10 times the minimum wage.On April 25, 2016, the government adopted a Law on Introduction of Amendments to Some Legislative Acts, which introduced amendments to the Law on Non-Governmental Non-Commercial Organizations (Law on NNOs), the Law on Public Foundations, the Law on Bank Secrecy, the Law on Charity, and the Code of Administrative Liability. This new legislation represented a significant deterioration in the NGO legal environment because it introduced additional restrictions on activities, such as the requirement to notify the Ministry of Justiceabout upcoming trips of NGO representatives to foreign countries, and to obtain approval for the receipt of all funds and assets from foreign states, organizations, and citizens.
Government-organized NGOs (GONGOs) may pose a potential threat to independent civil society in Uzbekistan, but it is not clear if GONGOs have actually had a negative impact on the NGO sector. There have been positive examples of cooperation between GONGOs and NGOs. In 2005, the National Association of NGOs of RUz (NANNOUz in Russian) was established. While clearly controlled by the Government, NANNOUz has done some good things for the NGO sector, by creating informational centers throughout the country for NGOs, and by providing small grants to NGOs. Admittedly, these small grants were awarded to the members of NANNOUz, but nonetheless this marked the first instance of government providing financial support to NGOs from the state budget. The small grants program and budgetary assistance for NGOs is now being extended on an annual basis.
Barriers to Speech / Advocacy
According to Uzbek law as written, there are no barriers restricting speech or advocacy activity in Uzbekistan; NGOs and individuals are both free, in theory, to criticize the Government, for example. In practice, however, there are constraints on speech and advocacy. NGOs engaging in human rights activity or government monitoring, for example, may be subject to harassment or even termination. Because these measure are extra-legal (i.e., outside the law), they are unpredictable.
NGOs are affirmatively granted the right to participate in legislative activities, and “to exercise lawmaking initiative.” For example, some NGOs make seek engagement with Parliament and/or governmental bodies by preparing analyses of legislation or through conducting a conference to facilitate cross-sectoral dialogue on draft legislation. In practice, however, few NGOs take advantage of this right.
Barriers to International Contact
NGOs seeking to conduct a conference, to invite international participants to these conferences, etc. must secure advance approval from the Ministry of Justice. In practice, NGOs submit a letter to the Ministry of Justice, describing a proposed conference (goals, date, participants, etc.). If the Ministry grants permission for the conference, the NGO can move forward with planning; if the Ministry refuses permission, then there will be no conference.
In addition, all citizens seeking to work abroad must receive permission from the Ministry of Labor.
Access to certain websites is banned for all citizens. Indeed, on August 5, 2011, the Cabinet of Ministries passed a Resolution no.228 “On additional measures on development system of monitoring in sphere of mass communications”. According to this Resolution, an “expert commission” will be created to identify information that is exerting a negative social impact on the citizens of Uzbekistan and the source of that information. The “expert commission” can recommend to close any mass media outlet or prohibit the dissemination of any informational resource in Uzbekistan.
Barriers to Resources
The process of receiving foreign funding is burdened by a number of legal barriers. First, in order to receive a foreign grant, an NGO must receive a special conclusion from the Commission under the Cabinet of Ministers that the project to be supported by the grant is indeed worthy of support. Second, the grant funding must be sent to “Asaka” or “NBU” bank (one of two state-owned banks). In practice, the state-owned banks determine whether to release the money to the NGO and often block the release of funding, thus interfering with the ability to receive financial support. Third, after receiving the grant funding, the NGO must provide several reports to a special government body operating under the Ministry of Finance. The reports can be divided into two groups: (a) monthly reports; and (b) transactional reports, which are required following each financial transaction relating to the use of the grant funding. For example, if an NGO buys a pen or a desk with grant funding, then it needs to submit a report on the next business day.
On June 23, 2010, the Cabinet of Ministers issued Resolution №123 “On adoption of the Regulation on order of realization of technical assistance projects and programs in sphere of narcomania (drug abuse) prevention and struggle against illegal turnover of drugs, which funded by foreign, international organizations or foreign states, and also other legal entities.” The new order complicates the process of securing governmental approval for projects relating to the prevention of drug abuse and the illegal turnover of drugs. For international organizations, securing official approval involves a six-step process, with five governmental organs involved in the review of the proposed project. For national organizations, the approval process is a similarly bureaucratic five-step process.
According to the Law "On Introducing Amendments and Addenda to Some Legislative Acts of the Republic of Uzbekistan", which was introduced in 2016, the MoJ may receive information about an NGO's bank account in cases where the information is deemed necessary to monitor compliance with the law.On June 15, 2016, the MoJ approved a new implementing "Regulation on the Procedure of Coordination of Receipt of Monetary and Other Assets by Non-governmental Non-commercial Organizations (NNOs) When Such Assets are Received from Foreign States, International and Foreign Organizations, Citizens of Foreign States, or From Other Persons, Authorized by the Mentioned Above Persons (Regulation)". The Regulation came into effect on June 20, 2016 and establishes a procedure of obtaining approval from the MoJ for assets received by NNOs from foreign sources. The Regulation was adopted to implement Article 8 of the Law on Non-governmental Non-commercial Organizations (Law on NNOs).
According to the Regulation, all NNOs, including foreign NNOs (FNNOs), with registered offices in Uzbekistan are required to obtain the MoJ’s approval in order to receive assets from any foreign source. This new procedure provided in the Regulation is not a replacement, but an addition to, the already-existing extremely burdensome procedure of obtaining permission to receive foreign aid involving obtaining approvals from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Banking Commission. The Regulation further complicates the receipt of funds by NNOs from foreign sources.
Barriers to Assembly
Article 33 of the Constitution of Republic of Uzbekistan establishes that "All citizens shall have the right to take part in civic activities by way of participating in rallies, meetings and demonstrations in accordance with the legislation of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Government agencies shall only have the right to suspend or ban such events on the grounds of substantiated security considerations."
Article 12 of Law #1051-XII "On the Guarantees of the Citizens' Electoral Rights" of May 5, 1994 confirms that the "electorate shall be guaranteed the right to take part in civic activities in the form of rallies, assemblies and demonstrations" in compliance with the legislation of the Republic of Uzbekistan."
On July 29, 2014, the Cabinet of Ministers passed Decree #205 "On measures of Further Improvement of the Procedures for Organizing and Holding Public Events," which established the rules for holding "mass events" (Addendum #1 to the Cabinet's Decree #205 of July 29, 2014). A "mass event" is defined as "the presence of citizens, organized at the venue of a public happening for the purpose of holding social and political programs (i.e. symposia, conferences, congresses, etc.); cultural and entertainment programs and performances (music, literature and other festivals, concerts, theatrical, sports and promotional events, folk festivals, circus and folkloric shows, games, displays and competitions, etc.); and also national religious and professional celebrations, with the attendance of 100 people or more."
Penalties contained in the "The Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Administrative Responsibility" may deter organizers from planning and conducting public assemblies. For example, fines in the amount of 60-80 times the minimum allowable monthly wages and an administrative detention period of up to 15 days may result from violating the established procedure of organizing or carrying out public gatherings, rallies, marches and demonstrations (Article 201). In addition, any provision of premises or other property (means of communications, copiers or other technologies, equipment or vehicles) or facilitating conditions for carrying out [public gatherings, rallies, marches and demonstrations] may result in the imposition of fines in the amount of 50-100 times the minimum allowable monthly wages on regular citizens, and 70-150 minimum times the monthly wages on government officials (Article 202).
Threat of Use of Force
Since 2005, when hundreds of protesters were killed in confrontations with the Uzbek security forces in Andijon, there have been few public protests.
UN Universal Periodic Review Reports Reports of UN Special Rapporteurs Uzbekistan USIG (United States International Grantmaking) Country Notes Not available Human Rights Watch World Report 2014: Uzbekistan U.S. State Department 2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Uzbekistan
2014 Advancing Freedom and Democracy Reports: Uzbekistan
Fragile States Index Reports Foreign Policy: Fragile States Index IMF Country Reports Uzbekistan and the IMF International Commission of Jurists Not available International Center for Not-for-Profit Law Online Library Uzbekistan
While we aim to maintain information that is as current as possible, we realize that situations can rapidly change. If you are aware of any additional information or inaccuracies on this page, please keep us informed; write to ICNL at email@example.com.
Ministry of Justice receives right to check CSOs’ bank accounts (April 2016) (Russian)
According to the Law "On Introducing Amendments and Addenda to Some Legislative Acts of the Republic of Uzbekistan", the MoJ may receive information about an NGO's bank account in cases where the information is deemed necessary to monitor compliance with the law.
Government significantly decreases sizes of administrative penalties for CSOs (April 2016) (Russian)
In the implementation of the activities of NGOs (except religious organizations), their representative offices and branches without state registration is now punishable by a fine of 15 to 30 time the minumum wage; previously it was 50 to 100 times the minimum wage.
Law of Uzbekistan on Appeals of Individuals and Legal Entities discussed (February 2015)
The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Uzbekistan held a conference devoted to discussing the essence, meaning and application in practice of the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan on Appeals of Individuals and Legal Entities.
Uzbekistan Gears Up to Vote for "Rubberstamp" Parliament (December 2014)
Uzbekistan's parliamentary elections on December 21 will offer voters a choice, but no hope for change. No opposition parties are permitted to legally exist in Uzbekistan, and independent candidates are barred from standing in elections.
HRW Documents Plight Of Political Prisoners (October 2014)
Based on court documents and extensive interviews, a new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) found that those jailed in Uzbekistan on politically motivated charges are subjected to torture and abysmal prison conditions. HRW says Uzbekistan has unlawfully imprisoned thousands of people for the peaceful exercise of their freedom of expression. HRW spoke with more than 150 people, including 10 recently released prisoners.
Situation Dire for NGOs in Uzbekistan (August 2013)
Free political prisoners on Constitution Day (December 2012)
EU representative visits Uzbekistan (December 2012)
CIVICUS intervention in the UPR for Uzbekistan (October 2012)
Uzbekistan "not free" according to internet freedom report (October 2012)
Uzbek rights activist Muhitdinov dies (August 2012)
Watchdog urges EU action over human rights (June 2012)
Activist free but crackdown widening (April 2012)
AIDS activist released, but other human rights defenders harassed (September 2011)
Internet censorship in Uzbekistan (August 2011)
Activists harassed after TV broadcast (April 2011)
Uzbekistan can't muzzle the messenger (April 2011)
Uzbek human rights group facing criminal libel suit (March 2011)
No journalist is immune from slander, defamation charges (February 2011)
The foregoing information was collected by the ICNL Civic Freedom Monitor partner in Uzbekistan, Mr. Gayrat Usmanov.