OSCE supports Uzbekistan in the fight against terrorism

By Aziza Malik


Shown are some of the 40 Uzbek officials who attended a September 15 Tashkent seminar on counter-terrorism. [Aziza Malik]

TASHKENT -- The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and Uzbekistan are working together to defuse terror threats.

A recent step in this direction was an OSCE-sponsored seminar in Tashkent September 15. Forty Uzbekistani officials gathered to discuss "effective national counter-terrorism policies, guided by the relevant international legal framework", the OSCE said in a statement.

"“We stand ready to further support Uzbekistan in the implementation of the OSCE Consolidated Framework for the Fight against Terrorism," OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan John MacGregor said, according to the OSCE statement.

Part of the OSCE's aid to the Uzbekistani counter-terrorism effort consists of training of the civil servants involved in counter-terrorism.

"We undergo special training on how to respect the rights and freedoms of suspects, detainees, convicts, and others who through one way or another become involved in police round-ups," Rovshan Satarov, an official in the Interior Ministry (MVD) counter-terrorism department, told Caravanserai. "Procedures for arresting suspects ... must avoid violating human rights," Tashkent Province human rights activist Sharof Numonov told Caravanserai.

International legal co-operation is a must in fighting terrorism, he added.

Stopping extremists

Uzbekistani authorities have been busy keeping the country safe. During the first half of 2016, they arrested 550 individuals accused of ties to terrorist groups, according to the government.

Suspects are accused of membership in groups like the Islamic Movement of Turkestan and the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL).

Most Uzbekistanis who spoke to Caravanserai consider national security the principal issue in their lives. They include Roza Kariyeva, a student at the Tashkent State Institute of Law.

If life is at risk, all other issues -- the economy or health care for example -- become meaningless, she argued.

On the other hand, Chirchik human rights attorney Eduard Zimin called for continued oversight of government.

"The rule of law is written into the constitution," he said, adding that outsiders need to keep an eye on executive power.

New law on police

One effort to regulate the operations of law enforcement took place in September, when acting President Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed the country's first-ever fundamental law on police.

It is scheduled to take effect in March.

The law "closes ... a loophole in our legal system", Senator Oral Ataniyazova said in August, when her chamber approved the bill. "Until now, we never had a unified law regulating the [police]."

International help needed

Uzbekistan is battling extremism relentlessly, but the globalisation of terrorism requires Uzbekistani and international organisations to join forces, SNB official Temur Narbayev told Caravanserai.

"When you see young people being recruited by ISIL ... on a daily basis, you realise that force alone can't beat terrorism," he said. "And Uzbekistan needs support from international organisations with experience in fighting terrorism."

"The threat to our security can be eliminated only through joint action, particularly through sharing information and best practices," Zimin agreed.

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