The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has published a new report Accessing Economic and Social Rights in Uzbekistan: An Analysis of Selected Laws and Practices. In the report, it considers aspects of Uzbekistan’s implementation of its obligations to respect, protect and fulfil economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights through laws and policies as well as through access to justice and remedies for those who allege that their ESC rights have been violated.
Analysing the general legal framework for protection of these rights, the report considers in more detail particular challenges in Uzbekistan, in respect of the right to adequate housing, the right to health, and rights in the workplace.
In the report, the ICJ concludes that in-depth reforms of the justice system are still needed to ensure effective remedies for ESC rights violations in practice, including through genuine independence of the judiciary and regular application of international human rights law in and by the courts.
In general, the use of international law in the Uzbekistan justice system remains weak and underdeveloped. International law is to a high degree theoretical for most legal practitioners, an approach that appears to have its roots in legal tradition and culture, lack of political will and a lack of concrete programmes of measures to make progress in this regard. In practice, judges, prosecutors and lawyers continue not to be exposed to international law on ESC rights, and usually do not apply it in their work directly.
The report concludes that in Uzbekistan the justiciability of ESC rights is not always accepted, as some ESC rights are not seen as rights whose violation could or should be remedied through and by the courts. Rather, many actors see guarantees of non-discrimination or aspects of the right to health or education as benefits which are not of a justiciable nature. Lawyers, sharing a similar legal mindset and background, do not tend to demonstrate the necessary legal activism in pursuing judicial remedies in such cases.
The report contains five chapters. Chapter 1 of the report outlines the general issues which are essential to ensure access to justice for ESC rights in Uzbekistan. Chapter 2 is dedicated to issues related to the right to housing, its international legal aspects and national implementation. Chapter 3 discusses issues related to the right to health while Chapter 4 describes the aspects of the protection of the right to work internationally as well as in Uzbekistan. In Chapter 5, the report sets out conclusions and recommendations on access to justice as well as the measures to protect specific rights addressed in the report.
The publication of the report marks the conclusion of a three-year project, ACCESS, of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), which has worked to advance civil society engagement for the protection of ESC rights in Uzbekistan. It draws on several discussions in Uzbekistan, as well as on legal research carried out throughout the project.
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