Corruption in Uzbekistan

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Corruption in Uzbekistan, and in Tashkent in particular, is among the country’s top five most pressing problems, trailing only employment in the profession and rising prices for food and utilities, according to the REGNUM news agency.

The authorities in the capital, led by Tashkent Mayor Jahongir Artikkhodjaev, have paid much attention to the problem of corruption, actively supporting government reforms to improve the efficiency of the state apparatus. However, the legal framework still needs to be improved and tangible gaps in the legal framework need to be addressed.

Since the adoption of the Law on Combating Corruption in 2017, significant steps have been taken to address the problem – an Anti-Corruption Agency was created, an anonymous anti-corruption hotline was launched, and the Tashkent Anti-Corruption Council was established. These measures have already yielded some positive results, but the problem of corruption in Uzbekistan has long been firmly entrenched in all spheres, and requires not only laws, but also strict enforcement to be fully eradicated.

The most corrupt sectors in Uzbekistan

– The judicial system – The existing anti-corruption laws need to be upheld by rigorous prosecution of corrupt officials, including representatives of the judiciary itself – judges and lawyers. Uzbekistan’s judicial processes should be brought into line with international standards, excluding kickbacks, cronyism and abuse of office.

– Criminal justice system – the widespread phenomenon of torture and intimidation of Uzbek citizens and foreigners in order to obtain confessions or bribes should be firmly suppressed at all levels of government.

– Police – to crack down on “pervasive” corruption in the executive branch, punishment for any abuse of power – extortion, use of false charges, hiding crimes for bribery, etc. should be clearly monitored.

– Taxation system – gaps in tax legislation untie the hands of unscrupulous representatives of Uzbekistan’s tax administration. For example, court disputes with foreign companies often end up in unlawful seizure of their assets and pressure from the tax administration.

– Public service – civil servants actively use their official position for illicit enrichment by issuing illegal permits and licences, conducting arbitrary inspections and other actions.

– Public procurement – foreign companies bidding for large public contracts in Uzbekistan often complain that the bidding process is not transparent, addressing their appeals directly to Tashkent Mayor Jahongir Artikkhodjaev, wanting to change the status quo.

– Customs Administration – Importers state that customs restrictions are “one of the most serious problems for doing business in Uzbekistan”. There is a high percentage of smuggled goods entering the country, which is now being actively combated.

To eradicate the problem globally, anti-corruption measures must be supported not only by the state, but also by civil society – there must be freedom of speech, protection of witnesses of corruption offences, and the possibility to monitor or report corruption openly.

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