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Uzbekistani legal system gets technology upgrade with help from US, UN



US Ambassador to Uzbekistan Pamela Spratlen and Uzbekistani officials discuss the modernisation of Uzbekistan's justice system October 13 in Fergana. [US Embassy in Uzbekistan]

TASHKENT -- Fifteen inter-district civil courts of the Fergana Valley are being upgraded with modern computer equipment to connect them to the E-SUD national electronic case management system, the US Embassy in Uzbekistan reported.

The equipment was provided through the Rule of Law Partnership in Uzbekistan, a project supported by the country's Supreme Court, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

The new equipment, valued at 484 million UZS ($60,000), will help connect the courts to E-SUD, an innovative electronic document management system that increases the speed of document processing and case consideration. The system is designed to give citizens better access to the courts.

Supreme Court Deputy Chairperson and Chairperson of the Judicial Collegium on Civil Cases Kholmumin Yodgorov, US Ambassador to Uzbekistan Pamela Spratlen and UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Uzbekistan Farid Garakhanov attended an event October 13 in Fergana to hand over the computer equipment.

During the event, guests toured the court facility and saw first-hand how E-SUD works. Practical manuals developed by the project -- "Procedure for Appealing to a Civil Court", "Disputes Arising out of Labour Relations", "Judicial Practice in Disputes Arising from Marital-Family Relations" and "Practical Guide to Final Court Decision" -- were released at the end of the event.

Only one court in Uzbekistan had the E-SUD system when the pilot programme was launched in 2013. Today, 950 specialists across the country have been trained in the use of the system and all 75 civil courts are using it, according to the embassy.

Since the launch, service efficiency has increased by approximately 50% with no documentation loss.

More work needed

Though E-SUD has helped speed up court administration, more work remains to modernise Uzbekistan's judicial system.

“Today, Uzbekistani courts are far from total computerisation," Tashkent attorney Farrukh Saidkhojayev told Caravanserai. "In most offices, secretaries with typewriters prepare the documents."

"The main convenience that E-SUD delivers is being able to file a claim online and to track it online," he said. "As of now, [most] citizens have to go to court and submit a handwritten claim. But already, many [citizens] can use E-SUD, and the system is constantly expanding."

Zeinab Jerbinova, a 42-year-old housewife from Tashkent, complained about the lack of efficiency in Uzbekistani legal proceedings and expressed hope that the computers will help in that regard.

"In August, I needed to get a [hard copy of] the court decision on my case," she told Caravanserai. "After 15 days, I finally received a document in which all the articles of the criminal code were incorrectly given, even though the electronic database had other information."

"Total disorder reigns in the courts' administrative offices," she said.

[Maksim Yeniseyev of Tashkent contributed to this report.]

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