Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Report

Introduction

The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Uzbekistan to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Uzbekistan's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Reports at www.state.gov.

Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives

The U.S. Government's priorities in the country are to advance democracy, human rights, adherence to the rule of law, and good governance, as these will contribute to the country's long-term stability and development. The U.S. Government's democracy and human rights objectives include: promoting human rights (particularly eradicating the use of torture in the investigative process and abuse in prisons); ending the government mobilization of forced and child labor during the annual cotton harvest; building political pluralism and a strong civil society sector; promoting freedom of religion and freedom of the press; encouraging transparent and accountable governance mechanisms at the local level; ensuring legal reform and accountability; and protecting the rights of vulnerable groups, including women, children, persons with disabilities, and refugees. U.S. officials advocate with government counterparts in favor of democratic reform, human rights, religious freedom, and adherence to the rule of law.

Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance

The United States regularly engages the government on issues related to human rights and democracy, and it supports a number of human rights and democracy programs. High-level U.S. civilian and military officials convey to their counterparts that respect for human rights is a crucial element of the bilateral relationship. The U.S. strategy focuses on encouraging reform, while reminding officials that progress in other areas of the relationship must coincide with progress on human rights. The United States, in cooperation with other diplomatic missions, international organizations, and human rights groups, urges the government to end the harassment of independent activists and NGOs, to release certain prisoners whose cases have aroused particular domestic and international concern, and to end the government mobilization of forced and child labor during the annual cotton harvest. The U.S. Government awards small grants to NGOs and media outlets to develop and facilitate cooperation between civil society institutions and mass media. The United States consistently encourages respect for religious freedom, tolerance, and pluralism. U.S. public diplomacy employs exchanges, communication with religious leaders and institutions, and distribution of informational materials. U.S. officials monitor elections as well as individual human rights cases; maintain contact with educators, journalists, and leaders of religious groups; host discussions; and raise these issues with government counterparts, emphasizing that religious freedom and political security are complementary goals.

Increasingly, the U.S. government is focusing on mainstreaming good governance techniques into development activities to ensure the long-term sustainability of the tenets of democracy and the growth of civic participation by all citizens. A new initiative targeting local government aims to improve communication between government and citizens, while targeting community development through block grants. The U.S. government is advancing a rule of law program in coordination with the EU that will target judges, prosecutors, and defense attorneys. The U.S. government monitors court cases and presses the government to hold trials that meet international standards and also to end torture and abuse of defendants and prisoners. The U.S. government supports forensics programs, providing training and equipment to improve methods used in criminal investigations, and improving the quality of evidence used in trials. The United States supports a free press through a variety of activities, including hosting monthly discussions with local media and inviting local journalists to participate in training and exchange programs focused on media freedom. The U.S. mission awards grants to support the development of independent media organizations through training and highlighting the role of political parties in the local media. The United States also encourages the government to accredit independent journalists and to cease harassment of independent media.

The United States actively promotes the rights of vulnerable groups, including children, women, persons with disabilities, trafficking victims, and refugees. In coordination with domestic actors, U.S. officials press for the independent monitoring of the use of forced and child labor during the annual fall cotton harvest and urge the government to improve cooperation with international organizations to find alternatives to forced and child labor. Other small grants provide funding for vocational training for youth with disabilities and women and the expansion of youth center activities. The United States continues to support programs to prevent trafficking in persons, promoting public awareness, providing assistance for victims and training for law enforcement officials, and facilitating cross-border collaboration. A U.S.-funded nationwide NGO network provides counseling and information through 10 public hotlines, as well as through local seminars and discussions. U.S. funds also help two shelters to provide medical, psychological, legal, and educational assistance to trafficking victims. The U.S. Government is expanding its victim's assistance activities by implementing an innovative reintegration program, which will introduce case management, on-the-job training, and halfway houses into the protection regime.

[This is a mobile copy of Uzbekistan]