THE MAIN OBJECTIVE OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM IS TO ENSURE IN PRACTICE THE HONOR AND DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN AND THE INTERESTS OF THE PEOPLE
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Speech by the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan
Shavkat Mirziyoyev at the meeting with the members of the Constitutional Commission of the Oliy Majlis on June 20, 2022
Dear members of the commission and participants of the meeting!
I am glad to meet with you today, at a time of very important political reforms for our people.
In a short time, the Constitutional Commission has accomplished an enormous work of improving the country’s Basic Law.
Today we have gathered to exchange views and discuss priorities in this direction in the course of an open dialogue.
Undoubtedly, the work of the Constitutional Commission will serve to further strengthen the legal foundations of our ongoing democratic reforms.
Directly observing this process, I was convinced that our citizens did not stay away from the transformations we began at the new stage, showing initiative, putting forward many proposals and actively supporting our reforms. We will definitely pay attention to every proposal we receive and we will take it into account in improving the Basic Law.
Our goal is for every compatriot to be able to proudly say, this is my Constitution.
Now let me state my vision on the key issues of improving the main document of our society and state. I believe that their detailed discussion will contribute to the achievement of our goal.
We are embarking upon a new and extremely responsible stage in improving the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
To date, the Commission has received 48,492 proposals from the citizens, which clearly confirms the objective, vital need to put a constitutional reform on the agenda.
The proposals summarized by the Constitutional Commission have been thoroughly and comprehensively discussed and are now at the stage of being submitted to the Legislative Chamber. Now there will also be discussions in accordance with the law and regulations.
I would like to take this opportunity to draw your attention to the most important aspects of this process.
First of all, we must precisely formulate the answer to one question.
Why is constitutional reform necessary now?
According to some fellow countrymen, individual scientists, our Constitution meets modern democratic requirements and does not need to be changed.
In fact, the Constitution of the country is fully consistent with international standards and requirements and foreign best practices. It is certain.
As a member of the commission, who participated in drafting the current Basic Law in 1992, I am convinced that the Constitution of Uzbekistan serves as a solid legal foundation for all our achievements over the years of independence. All of us know this well and highly appreciate it.
Furthermore, we must deeply reflect on the vital requirement that today’s rapid development puts before us.
The current turbulent time, the complicated situation around us require an even more responsible attitude towards the fate of our state, adoption of urgent strategic decisions.
Over the past short period of time, of course, the political, legal, socio-economic, spiritual and cultural image of our society has changed dramatically. The worldview of our compatriots six years ago and today is completely different.
Committed to the idea of building a democratic rule of law and just civil society enshrined in the Constitution, we have carried out extensive work and gained a lot of experience in this direction.
Humanity has entered the era of science and technology. The processes of transformation and competition are sharply intensifying in the world. Today, more than ever, the nations are seriously thinking about their future.
In this regard, the questions naturally arise. What is the place of a human being, his honor and dignity in the life of the state and society in the current decisive period and in the future? What political, legal, socio-economic, spiritual and moral principles, values and interests will be a priority for us?
Most important, it is how will the constitutional reform affect the lives of ordinary people, ensuring the well-being of the population, the development of society and the state?
It is the call of the times to reflect the answers to these questions in the carefully developed legal norms of the Constitution.
As it is well-known, the Article 12 of the Basic Law claims that no ideology shall be proclaimed as state ideology. This is an extremely important and very correct constitutional norm. After all, the ideology of any political party, no matter how respectful and influential it is, expresses the interests of only a certain social group.
A truly people’s ideology, the cherished dreams and aspirations of the nation should be most fully reflected in its main document – the Constitution.
The updated Constitution is designed to serve as a solid legal basis and a reliable guarantor of the implementation of long-term development strategies for our state, the prosperous life of the country and the people.
In a word, the essence and substance of the Constitution should be filled with the idea “In the name of the honor and dignity of a person” and be based on the main principle of our current reforms “Human- Society - State”, which are designed to become a fundamental value in our daily life. That is, the honor and dignity of a person should henceforth be at the forefront of transformations in all spheres.
Based on these requirements, I would like to draw your attention to the following priority areas.
The first direction is a person, his life, freedom, honor and dignity, inalienable rights and interests.
At the focus of all the reforms we are implementing is the noble idea of exalting the honor and dignity of human. Both in our sacred religion and in the rich scientific and spiritual heritage of our great ancestors, a human is regarded as the crown of the universe and an incomparable miracle.
The Holy Quran says that among all beings created by the Almighty, a human is the dearest and revered of His creation.
The great poet and thinker Alisher Navoi wrote that a fair solution to the problems that concern a person, respect for his honor and dignity are the key to the happiness of the people and the prosperity of the country.
Indeed, society and the state will develop steadily and harmoniously only where decent conditions are created for the education and upbringing of a person, his prosperous life. Therefore, at present, the world focuses on human rights and freedoms, ratings and standards related to this topic.
A person should not be a means, but the main meaning and purpose of the existence of the state and society, the highest value.
In the New Uzbekistan that we are building, the honor and dignity of a person, the interests of the people are above everything.
Therefore, a true elevation of his honor and dignity is a constitutional duty and a priority task of state authorities.
These principles should be clearly reflected and find their fundamental legal solution in the updated Constitution.
A historical experience shows that the dignity of a person is manifested primarily in his natural right to life. Life is one of the greatest and most sacred values.
As you know, we first gradually reduced the list of crimes, which could lead to death penalty, and then completely abolished such punishment. Despite this, some citizens are making proposals to restore this measure, to include it in the criminal law. At the same time, in the most countries of the world, where the ideals of democracy and humanism are raised to the level of the highest value, the death penalty has been abolished. After all, the right to life is a natural right of every person, which was granted to him not by the state, but by the Almighty.
If you support me, I propose to include in our Constitution one more important norm: “The death penalty is prohibited in the Republic of Uzbekistan.”
By doing this, we will demonstrate to the entire world community that we will never step back on such a serious issue and remain committed to the ideals of humanism.
I would like to draw your attention to another important issue. Analysis of many appeals received by the People’s Reception Offices of the President shows that when a person is detained by law enforcement agencies, he is not explained his rights and the reasons for detention. As a result, in the first minutes of detention, the rights of the detainee are jeopardised.
In order to prevent such cases, it is necessary to apply the “Miranda Warning”, reflected in the Constitutions and laws of many states, as well as in international human rights instruments. That is, when detaining a person, he must be explained his rights and the reason for detention in a language accessible to him. I believe that it is a high time to enshrine this norm in our Constitution.
In addition, it is necessary to develop the “Habeas Corpus” institute. A person may not be held in custody for more than forty-eight hours pending a court decision. If the court does not make a decision on the arrest of a person or restriction of his freedom in another form within the prescribed period, then this person should immediately be released. Such an important norm should be reflected in our Basic Law.
These provisions are fully consistent with a fundamental constitutional principle that an individual, his or her life, freedom, honor, dignity and other inalienable rights are of a supreme value.
As you may recall, at the solemn meeting dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution, I spoke specifically about the issue of citizens not being hired or not being appointed to high positions because of convicted close relatives. Due to this unacceptable approach, a number of young people, qualified specialists became a guilt-free, suffering because of the misdeeds of their close relatives.
Why should a whole family be responsible for one crime? Why should children be responsible for the deeds of father, or brother for brother? From now on, we shall completely reject such an unjust “system”. Wasn’t there enough political repressions during the totalitarian regime, especially in the 1930s of the last century?
Therefore, we must explicitly inscribe in our Constitution a provision on that the person’s criminal record and the legal consequences arising from it may not serve as grounds for restricting the rights of his or her relatives. It should also be reflected in our Basic Law that all persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated humanely, with honor and dignity.
It is also necessary to re-educate those who are serving sentences, to take all measures for their return to a normal life.
One more question. Many are well aware that in ancient Roman law there are so-called golden rules. For example, such as “no one pushes you to the impossible” or “the law does not require the impossible”.
Unfortunately, in our national legislation, there are sometimes impracticable or difficult-to-enforce rules. In fact, laws should not put excessive demands on a person. The excessive demands are, first of all, the extra costs, which, in the end, pave way for corruption.
For example, a citizen has a three-month debt of 3 million soums on a mortgage loan. In accordance with applicable law, the bank sues the debtor. However, the claim is filed not for 3 million soums, that is, not for a real debt, but for the entire unpaid part of the loan, let us say, for 250 million soums.
After considering the application, the court rules to collect more than 10 million soums of state duty from a debtor and cancel the contract. Just think about how a citizen who could not pay 3 million will pay 10 million soums of a state duty?
To prevent such absurd situations, I propose to introduce a new rule into the Constitution. That is, the measures of legal influence in relation to a person when considering cases of administrative, civil, economic, criminal liability and others must be sufficient to achieve a legitimate goal, and, if possible, should alleviate the fate of the person.
Another issue that has bothered me for many years is registration, the so called “propiska”.
Our citizens while entering Tashkent could not pass the checkpoints on the roads without a passport, birth certificate. Coming to our capital for a visit, to enjoy it or to work, people have always been worried.
Why? Since, the current Constitution does not fully address the rules regarding the free movement of citizens. Along with this, there is no such practice that restricts the rights of citizens in any democratic country.
In order to eliminate such a situation that discriminates against people, their rights, we have eliminated checkpoints on the roads, canceled the “propiska”.
For a systematic solution of these problems, every citizen of Uzbekistan should have the right to free movement around the country, free choice of place of residence. Every citizen needs guarantees of the right to freely enter and leave the country. I propose that these important norms be firmly enshrined in the Constitution.
The inviolability of private life and related guarantees must also be secured in the Constitution.
Only then we shall be able to guarantee a peaceful and secured life for our citizens, their trust in the state and the laws, and a free movement.
The second direction – I propose to consolidate the principle of “Uzbekistan is a welfare state” in the Basic Law.
The concept of “human dignity” is inseparably linked with the concept of a “welfare state”, which is based on the noble goal of human rights observance and legitimate interests, serving people.
It is well-known that the welfare state creates decent living conditions for everyone based on the principles of social equality and justice. This is a model of a state implementing an effective policy to reduce social differences and support those in need.
First, a welfare state implies the definition of a minimum level of provision of housing and consumer goods necessary for life for those in need. It establishes wages capable of ensuring a decent life for a citizen and his family, as well as measures to reduce poverty, ensure employment, and safe working conditions.
At the same time, the main objectives of a welfare state are protection from unemployment, guaranteed quality education, qualified medical care, equal opportunities for all, comprehensive support for families, children, women, the elderly, and persons with disabilities.
Along with this, in a welfare state, it is important to provide the necessary resources for life – a potable water, natural gas, electricity, transport and others, as well as the prohibition of forced labor.
In a word, in a welfare state, no one will be left without attention and will not be left alone with their problems.
Speaking about the interests of a person in a welfare state, first of all, we mean providing him with necessary housing.
The birth of a person, the formation of his personality, the upbringing of children, the development of national customs and historical traditions, weddings take place in the house, in the family. When a child is born, our compatriots with good intentions plant trees in the yard, dreaming that this house, this garden will serve their descendants for many years.
During a recent sociological survey conducted by the non-governmental center “Ijtimoiy fikr”, the majority of fellow countrymen expressed the opinion that the availability of a permanent housing is the main condition for creating a family.
About 500 thousand houses and apartments have been built and commissioned in our country over the past five years. For the first time, a system of allocating subsidies to women and young people and families in need has been established. In 2022-2026, modern houses and apartments with a total area of over 19 million square meters will be built in cities instead of obsolete housing under an umbrella of renovation programs. Thanks to this, more than 275 thousand families will be able to celebrate a housewarming.
The Constitution should enshrine the state’s obligations to protect citizens’ rights to housing, guarantee its inviolability, as well as provide housing for all segments of the population, especially those in need.
There is another problem, popularly known as “demolition”.
For its complete eradication, it is necessary to consolidate constitutional guarantees for housing. That is, no one can be deprived of housing without a court ruling. If a building is subject to demolition, compensation corresponding to the cost of a building must be paid before its demolition.
The Constitution should firmly fix the norm that penetration into housing or other property belonging to a person without his permission, inspection and search are allowed only in accordance with the procedure and cases established by law.
There is another important point. As the centuries-old experience of development shows, it is impossible to build a strong welfare state without private property and its reliable guarantees.
Therefore, in our Basic law we must solidify the constitutional guarantees necessary to ensure the protection of private property. Every entrepreneur, regardless of the scale of his activity, should truly feel that he is always under the protection of the state, the Constitution, laws and the President.
It is necessary to establish, as in developed countries, such a procedure in which no one can deprive the owner of his property without a court ruling, his consent and a fair compensation payment.
Along with this, I believe it is a high time to define as a constitutional norm the question of an inadmissibility of revising and canceling the results of denationalization and privatization.
We must remove all barriers to the development of entrepreneurship – the main driver of our economy. To this end, it is necessary to enshrine in the Constitution the rule that the state creates all conditions for a free movement of goods, services, labor and financial resources, the development of domestic and foreign trade in the country. This is a requirement of the times and the reforms we have begun.
I also propose to clearly define in the Basic Law the right of entrepreneurs to carry out any activity not prohibited by law, independently choose the direction of their activity and receive unlimited profit from it.
In order to develop private property, the state must ensure a favorable business and investment climate, conditions for the development of entrepreneurship, protection of fair competition, and prevention of monopolization in an economic activity.
In addition, I believe that it should be clearly stated in the Basic Law that land can also be privately owned.
It would also be appropriate to reflect in the Constitution the rule that agricultural and forestry lands belong to a state and are allocated to business entities on the basis of lease agreements.
Second, for every person, the family is an important and sacred value. A healthy and strong family is the backbone of a state and the main unit in society.
We honor the family as a hearth that ensures the continuation of life, preserves national identity and culture, traditions and customs, forms a harmoniously developed generation. Such noble qualities as respect for the elders, care for the younger ones, humanism, kindness and mercy, love and devotion to Homeland, are laid first of all at the family.
In the current age of globalization, the need to create decent conditions for a comprehensive protection, support and strengthening of an institution of family is increasing.
In order to develop the constitutional basis of an institution of a family, I propose to enshrine in the Basic Law the rule that “the family is formed on the basis of a voluntary consent and equality of women and men”, is a natural and main unit in society, remains under special protection of society and the state. Therefore, the state must create the necessary social and economic conditions for the full development of a family, provide benefits and social guarantees to large families in accordance with law. Then the economic and spiritual foundations of a family shall become even stronger.
Third, a very important direction of our policy is the upbringing of children, who are the meaning of life for our people, their future.
Currently, the young people under the age of 30 are about 60 percent of the country’s population. This is our greatest wealth and human resource.
We consider a family, the preschool, school and higher education, as well as scientific and cultural institutions, the most important units, strong pillars of the Third Renaissance.
Consequently, an urgent issue is to enshrine in the Constitution a comprehensive support for the rights and freedoms, as well as the legitimate interests of the youth, young men and young women – the creators of the New Uzbekistan.
In the Basic Law, as one of the priority areas, it is necessary to reflect the interests of the child, enshrine the norm on the creation of all conditions for his comprehensive physical, mental and cultural development.
At the same time, as a separate norm, we must enshrine the need for constant state support for a gifted youth, regardless of their financial situation.
It is well-known that for over the last years we have been paying a profound attention to popularizing sports among the population, especially the youth, and promoting a healthy lifestyle. In order to consolidate our policy in this direction at the constitutional level, I propose to include the following provision in the Basic Law:
“The state creates the necessary conditions for the development of physical culture and sports, spiritual and moral education of children and the youth”.
Further enhancement of responsibility for the fate of the younger generation will also serve as the inclusion in the Constitution of a norm that parents are entitled and obliged to take care of the upbringing, education, health, comprehensive and harmonious development of children until they reach the age of puberty.
Fourth, our national idea derives from the humanistic qualities of our people, including generosity, unselfish assistance to those in need, and the creation of equal conditions for persons with disabilities.
Currently, there are about 1 million people with disabilities living in the country. In recent years, the state policy to support them and create equal conditions for them has been raised to a completely new level. In particular, the parliament adopted the Law “On the Rights of Persons with Disabilities”, ratified the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and created a solid legal framework for the sphere.
On this basis, the rights of persons with disabilities to an equal access to opportunities available in society, including movement, health services, education, sports, employment, rehabilitation and participation in public and political life are ensured.
Now, on the basis of the principle “persons with disabilities are full members of society”, their constitutional rights and guarantees are our human duty. I propose, in particular, the inclusion of the following provisions: “Any separation of persons with disabilities, restriction of their rights, avoidance of creating conditions for their access to facilities and services shall be prohibited. For the realization of their rights and freedoms, as well as legitimate interests, the state shall create the necessary conditions and equal opportunities. For children who need of a special attention, an inclusive education shall be organized at educational institutions.”
Fifth, an important goal of the constitutional reform is to ensure reliable protection of human rights to work and decent living conditions, protection from unemployment, and poverty reduction.
The first positive results are yielded by the “iron”, “female” and “youth” notebooks introduced in the country in a short period of time in order to prevent social problems, the system of work in the context of makhallas (the local residential community areas) and families. However, in order to carry out this work regularly and systematically, making the process irreversible, the strong constitutional guarantees are needed.
In addition, I propose to enshrine in our Basic Law the right of everyone to work in favorable conditions, decent wages, introduce a rule that the minimum wage should be sufficient for the life of a person and his family.
Since the ancient times, our people have been characterized by such qualities as respect and care for women who give life to a new generation and raise children. The Basic Law should establish a prohibition against refusal to hire, dismissal from work and reduction of the wage of a woman because of her pregnancy or the presence of a small child.
Everyone knows that in recent years a forced and child labor has been completely eradicated in our country. Recently, in recognition of this achievement, the international coalition Cotton Campaign and world famous brands lifted the earlier issued boycott on cotton and textile products of Uzbekistan.
In order to prevent this from happening again, to improve the effectiveness of the current system of human rights protection, it is necessary to enshrine in the Constitution the norms on the prevention of child labor.
In recent years, we have radically changed the attitude towards our compatriots abroad. We have developed additional measures to support and socially protect fellow citizens who study, work and earn income in other countries, as well as members of their families living in our country. In particular, the ties with compatriots abroad and their families are expanding through the Vatandoshlar Public Foundation.
In order to have a consistent continuation of this activity, it is necessary to create the constitutional foundations for the state’s concern for compatriots. A provision should be introduced into the Constitution that the state takes care of its citizens living and working abroad, maintaining and developing ties with them.
Sixth, a human health is the greatest wealth of society. As life shows, only a healthy people, a healthy nation is capable of great achievements.
For us, a human health is an important component of ensuring high life expectancy, preserving the gene pool of the nation and the sustainability of the national strategy. In this regard, in my opinion, the general norm “Everyone has the right to a qualified medical care” is insufficiently enshrined in the Constitution. I consider it necessary to expand this article and supplement it with directly applicable provisions.
The pandemic that swept around the world two years ago taught us a lot. More than 25,000 requests received during the meeting with medical workers in March this year revealed many problems in the field. I propose to analyze them in order to further strengthen the constitutional guarantees for the protection of human health.
The next question is that we are all well aware of the importance of ecology, a favorable and safe environment in human development and ensuring a prosperous life.
A global climate change, the worsening situation associated with the drying up of the Aral Sea, make the issue of environmental security increasingly urgent. Therefore, environmental legal norms should be reflected in the Constitution.
Undoubtedly, such constitutional changes will serve to radically strengthen the environmental rights and obligations of citizens in our society, particularly to increase the accountability of officials for an environmental protection and the development of an ecological awareness of the population. This, in turn, shall contribute to the further strengthening of work as a part of the “Yashil Makon” nationwide project being implemented in the country.
Summarizing the above-mentioned, I note that it is necessary to stipulate in the Constitution that men and women, families and children, young and old, persons with disabilities, all our compatriots, regardless of whether in or outside the country, are in the sphere of constant attention of the state.
Dear participants of the meeting!
We attach a priority attention to the development of education, science and human capital. Indeed, in the current era of increasing competition, only an educated nation, an enlightened society and a state can achieve progress.
Our ancestors in their life adhered to a holy hadith «Search the knowledge from the cradle to the last hour». Our land has nurtured such great thinkers and scientists as Bukhari, Termezi, Khorezmi, Beruni, Farghoni, Navoi and their followers.
If we would like to bring up a new harmoniously developed generation, worthy of great ancestors, we should enshrine at the constitutional level the priority of developing the spheres of preschool, school, higher education and science.
The Basic Law should also contain provisions on the creation by the state of the necessary conditions for the development of preschool, school and higher education systems of various forms of ownership, including private educational institutions.
In the recent years, we have been according a particular attention to enhance the status of teachers and mentors in the society, increase their salaries and comprehensive support from the state.
The great mission of teachers and mentors is to pass knowledge, traditions and customs, our culture from generation to generation. In this regard, the high status of teachers should also be reflected in our Constitution. I think it would be fair if we enshrine in the Constitution the provision on the inadmissibility of interference in the professional activities of teachers, obstructing the performance of their official duties.
The third direction – the development of a free and fair civil society.
For our people, society begins, first of all, with a makhalla. A makhalla is the cradle of kindness and education, for centuries carefully preserving national traditions and the rich spirituality of our people, the abode of friendship and good neighborliness.
Speaking about a makhalla, we mean a unique social structure that educates a person based on humanism and tolerance, serving as a reliable bridge between the people and the state.
Over the past period, more than 50 regulatory legal acts have been adopted aimed at the development of makhalla. In each region, a new system of work is being implemented on the principle of “A well-maintained and safe makhalla”.
Currently, the transformation of a makhalla into a truly popular structure, where citizens can freely express their opinions and suggestions, find effective solutions to existing problems, is of an urgent importance.
If a makhalla is well-maintained, the whole country is well-maintained. If a makhalla changes, the whole society will be transformed.
As you know, in order to promote the status and influence of citizens’ assemblies in society, the Ministry for the Support of the Makhalla and the Older Generation was established. However, sometimes we have to hear erroneous opinions that this ministry was created to manage makhallas.
In order to clarify this issue, I propose to consolidate the status of a makhalla and the tasks of the relevant state bodies in the Basic Law. At the same time, it is necessary to establish separately that the makhallas are not part of the system of state authorities and are authorized to independently resolve issues of local significance. To do this, it is necessary to consolidate the obligation of state bodies to provide makhallas with comprehensive support in their activities.
Dear participants of the meeting!
There are over 9,200 non-governmental non-profit organizations operating in our country that perform important tasks to protect the rights and legitimate interests of individuals and legal entities, democratic values, in the field of social life, culture and education.
In recent years, a consistent work has been carried out to support non-governmental non-profit organizations and other civil society institutions, to improve the legal framework governing relations in the sphere. In order to bring these measures to a qualitatively new level, as well as to determine the prospects for the development of a fair civil society in the country for the near and medium term, a relevant concept for 2021-2025 has been approved.
I believe it is a high time to clearly stipulate in the Basic Law the role and status of civil society institutions – makhallas, political parties, movements, mass media, trade unions, foundations and other public associations.
The fourth direction – the construction of a humane democratic rule of law state in Uzbekistan.
The rule of law is a progressive idea and a great discovery of humanity, which has become the result of hard work for thousands of years.
Only in a state governed by the rule of law it is possible to fully ensure the right to life and freedom, human honor and dignity, and the creation of a truly people’s system of government.
In a state governed by the rule of law, everyone is equal and responsible before laws adopted on the basis of democratic principles, and no one can be above the law.
In this regard, I propose to consolidate the provision “Uzbekistan is a state governed by the rule of law” in our Constitution.
We have put a task before ourselves to build a democratic state that lives by the concerns of the people. This means that a state, its bodies and officials work for the people, serve them. The public control shall be established over a state power.
I propose to introduce the norms into the Constitution that ensure openness, transparency and accountability of the activities of state bodies, their mobility and compactness.
The Basic Law requires strengthening the provision of democracy, the mechanisms of checks and balances in the branches of government.
Above all, we must introduce into the Constitution the relevant provisions on expanding the authority of the Oliy Majlis on forming
a government and ensure its effective operation. I specifically suggest introducing the Senate’s approval process for the decree appointing the head of the Anti-corruption agency.
Along with this, the parliament should have the authority to debate the government’s yearly national report on fighting corruption.
It is also necessary to continue work on enhancing the constitutional foundations of parliamentary supervision by the Oliy Majlis. I suggest delegating the Oliy Majlis part of the President’s authority. For instance, it would be advisable to provide the Senate the authority to appoint and remove the Chairman of the Accounting Chamber. As a result, the Accounting Chamber shall become an important instrument of the parliamentary oversight of the formation and implementation of the State budget.
The separation of powers of khokims (governors) and Kengashes (Councils) on the ground is a crucial issue in restructuring the system of state authority and governance.
As you know, I have put forward this proposal before. As a result of the reforms we have implemented, the authority of local Kengashes and citizens’ self-government bodies has increased. Proceeding from this, I believe that it is a high time to remove from the Constitution the norms that Khokims simultaneously head the Kengashes of People’s Deputies.
The implementation of this reform will lead to the introduction at the local level of the principle of separation of powers between the branches of government, to an increase in the efficiency of local Kengashes, and the responsibility of khokims to people’s representatives. This will serve to better ensure the interests of the population in the regions, to strengthen the supervision of Kengashes and the public over the activities of khokimiyats (governors’ offices).
We shall continue to expand the authorities of representative bodies.
In order to expand the participation of citizens in the management of state affairs, I consider it appropriate to reform the institution of a right of legislative initiative. In particular, I propose to introduce into the Constitution a provision on the institution of making legislative proposals.
As a part of this institution, citizens in the amount of at least 100 thousand people will have the opportunity to submit their legislative proposals to the Legislative Chamber of the Oliy Majlis. Thus, the people will now acquire the right to initiate as a direct subject of lawmaking.
I believe that the time has come to accord the Senate of the Oliy Majlis, the Ombudsman and the Central Election Commission the power to make legislative proposals. At the same time, the initiatives will be introduced not as a draft law, but in the form of proposals.
Along with the expansion of the spheres of constitutional responsibility, the powers of executive authorities, it is also necessary to strengthen public and parliamentary oversight.
In this regard, I suggest expanding the powers of the government. In particular, the Constitution should define the responsibility of the Cabinet of Ministers and Khokimiyats in the field of ecology, implementation of youth policy, supporting, strengthening and protecting the family, social protection of persons with disabilities, development of public transport system, creating the necessary conditions for population’s leisure, supporting the civil society institutions.
The peaceful, free and prosperous life of citizens should become the main measure of the activity of the government and local executive bodies.
There is another important point. In New Uzbekistan we are confidently following the chosen path – from the Action Strategy to the Development Strategy, and all employees of the judiciary and law enforcement agencies should be deeply aware of this.
In the course of the reforms, the transformation of the judicial and legal system from an accusatory, punitive system into a system of bodies protecting the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of a person is of a decisive importance.
Our main task is to create such a system of fair and independent courts, the prosecutor’s office, law enforcement agencies, the National Guard as well as a strong advocacy, protecting public order and human rights, which, as in the developed countries, will in fact ensure the rule of law.
Taking today’s opportunity, we should also exchange views on the mechanism of direct enforcement of the norms of the Constitution.
The Basic Law has the supreme legal effect and direct action, fundamental human rights and freedoms are inalienable and inviolable, and are given to everyone from birth.
All this requires further improvement of the activities of the Constitutional Court, which defends the Basic Law.
This court, different from others, subordinates itself only to the Constitution and ensures the principle of its supremacy. Along with this, the Constitutional Court attaches a special attention to the observance of the constitutional principle of the supremacy of human rights and freedoms in the acts issued by the legislative and executive authorities, as well as the norms of the Constitution.
In this regard, it is necessary to drastically change the work of the Constitutional Court, specify its jurisdiction and enhance accountability.
It is also appropriate to stipulate as among the authorities of the Constitutional Court in the Constitution the consideration of appeals from citizens and legal entities for verification of the law applied by the court against them in a specific case in terms of its compliance with the norms of the Constitution.
The achievement of all our noble goals depends on ensuring peace and security in the country, inter-ethnic and interfaith harmony. This is precisely what our domestic and foreign policy pursued by the state is aimed at.
Over the past period, we have strengthened cooperation with many states of the world, including the atmosphere of friendship and good-neighborliness with all countries of the region.
Accordingly, I suggest supplementing the Basic Law with an article on Uzbekistan’s peaceful and friendly policy towards all states, primarily the neighboring ones, building its foreign policy on the principles of respect for human rights and freedoms, and the territorial integrity of states.
In the present circumstances, when cardinal changes are taking place in our country and throughout the world, updating and improvement of the conceptual and legal framework of the foreign policy of Uzbekistan is of a particular relevance.
It must be emphasized that the National Security Concept of the Republic of Uzbekistan was approved in 1997 and the Foreign Policy Concept of the Republic of Uzbekistan – in 2012. It is plainly obvious that these important documents no longer correspond to the new conditions of the rapidly changing modern world.
In this regard, taking into account the constitutional reform discussed by the general public of the country, I consider it necessary to develop a new edition of the National Security and the Foreign Policy Concepts of the Republic of Uzbekistan.
These documents are extremely important, so I also propose that they must be adopted in the form of Constitutional laws.
Dear participants of the meeting!
Certainly, today we do not have an opportunity to discuss in detail with you all the important and relevant suggestions received by the Commission from our citizens. I have only focused on a few of them.
The Constitutional commission, completing the first stage of its work, will soon submit all systematized proposals to the chambers of the Oliy Majlis.
There is the second stage of the work ahead. We have to once again comprehensively consider these proposals, discuss together with the people, the general public and accept them.
I would like to emphasize that to date we have been implementing all our reforms after discussing them with the people. I think that every amendment and addition to the Constitution must be submitted for a nation-wide discussion. After all, our nation is facing an extremely important, decisive historical choice.
Through constitutional reform, in New Uzbekistan we must create a solid legal basis for all our practical affairs aimed at fully ensuring in society the rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of a person, his or her honor and dignity as the highest value, and determine what our tomorrow, our future will be like.
In this regard, I deem it expedient, on the basis of the proposal of the Commission, to consider the draft developed by the Parliament during a nationwide discussion and take a decision on it by holding a referendum.
According to the current legislation, the Parliament has a mandate to independently introduce amendments to the Constitution. However, if we implement a constitutional reform based on the opinions and support of our citizens, through a referendum, then I believe it will become a true expression of the will of our people – the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan will be truly a people’s one.
This approach is fully consistent with the principle “The people are the only source and the author of the Constitution”. And each of our fellow countrymen will be able to proudly say: “The Constitution of New Uzbekistan is my Constitution”.
I would like to take this opportunity to address our people.
Dear compatriots, today we live in a turbulent world, in a troubled time. We are going through a very important period in the development of our country.
All the reforms we have begun in order to build a New Uzbekistan are aimed at providing every person with a decent life both today and tomorrow.
Our compatriots are ambitious, the people of full of strength and energy, who can become a backbone of their Homeland and the nation.
All of us must pass through ourselves, our souls and hearts the changes offered to be introduced to the Constitution, and express our objective and sincere views on them.
All of us strive to ensure that our dreams and hopes, the aspirations of our families, makhallas are reflected in the Basic Law, which is natural and absolutely correct.
I think that all the changes and additions being introduced to the Constitution will further unite our single state, consisting of 14 territorial entities, and the united people of Uzbekistan on the path to great goals, regardless of the nationality, religion and language of its citizens.
I call on all our dear compatriots to take an even more active part in the process of a constitutional reform.
Thus, we shall create a solid foundation for a future free and prosperous life for our families and children, for all our people.