Tashkent -- According to the Prosecutor General Ikhtier Abdullayev's October 17 decision, Uzbekistan will draw up a list of people who have participated in or are suspected of terrorist activity, or of distributing weapons of mass destruction.
The Department of Tax, Currency Crimes, and the Legalisation of Criminal Proceeds at the Prosecutor General's Office will compile a regularly updated list of people complicit in or suspected of being involved with terrorist activity. The list will be based on data provided by law enforcement agencies, as well as from foreign countries and international organisations, and it will be divided into international and national categories, said a representative of Justice Ministry Jakhongir Temirov.
"This includes using lists from the UN Security Council, and rulings made by foreign courts that recognise this or that organisation as a terrorist group. Those people included in the list will have the chance to appeal, in case of error," he said.
According to Temirov, all individuals and legal entities in Uzbekistan, starting January 17, 2017 "will be banned from providing access to funds, material assets, or services to those individuals and organisations included in the list, as well as to people acting on behalf of terrorists or those suspected of terrorist activity".
"Financial institutions are obligated to check their operations against the list independently, and to report suspicious transactions. The law stipulates punishment for violating the statute," he said.
Experts believe the list will improve public awareness
Uzbekistan has never published lists of terrorists or suspected terrorists on regular base before. The last list like that was publicly announced by the Interior Ministry in 2010. According to this list, there were 1,444 people wanted on suspicion of terrorism and extremism, with 633 members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) among them.
"You can see lists of wanted terrorists with photos in Uzbekistan at any police station, at border checkpoints, or in public places like subway stations, airports, and train stations," said Mouslima Khakimova, a lawyer with the Mirabad Regional Bar Association in the city of Tashkent. "However, the Ministry of Internal Affairs does not demonstrate adequate flexibility to publish this information on the Internet, and that could improve how vigilant the public is."
These kind of measures are relevant, since law enforcement agencies regularly expose accessories to terrorist activity inside Uzbekistan, officials said.
Bukhara Province court October 18 sentenced an Uzbek citizen Bobir Khafizov to 8 years in prison, Arif Atajanov, a spokesman for the Prosecutor General's Office, said.
"Khafizov was already serving a nine-year prison term in Nizhniy Novgorod, and he fell under the influence of ISIL ['Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant'] recruiters there," he said. "In 2015 he returned to Uzbekistan and, with the help of social media networks, began to actively espouse the idea of jihad and leaving for Syria. Khafizov was planning on giving financial assistance to terrorists. He intended to sell his own house to do this."
Legislation changes help Uzbekistan to combat terrorism
This is the second time this year that legislation in this area has been tightened. In April Uzbekistan imposed criminal liability for financing terrorism.
"Under the new clause 3 in article 155 entitled 'Financing Terrorism', a punishment from 8 to 10 years of incarceration is stipulated for activities that facilitate the existence, operation, or financing of a terrorist organisation, for directly or indirectly supplying terrorists, or for gathering resources and funds for terrorists. If the offense is committed by an official, a repeat offender, or a group, then they are in for 10 to 15 years in prison," said Khakimova.
International analysts have recognised Uzbekistan's success in combating terrorism financing. According to the Global Terrorism Index 2015, published by the Australian-American Institute for Economics and Peace, Uzbekistan received the status "No impact of terrorism" and was among the top 40 safest countries in the world.