Uzbekistan becomes the 70th state party to the UN’s Second Optional Protocol
On December 5, Uzbekistan’s senators approved the accession of their country to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty.
Uzbek President Islam Karimov (photo) signed the ratification into law on December 12, according to the Interfax news agency. The documents have yet to be filed with the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights.
This is the end of a legislative process launched in August 2005, when the president signed a decree abolishing the death penalty in Uzbekistan. Since then, all legislation providing for capital punishment has been amended. The country’s Legislative House passed the bill that makes Uzbekistan a state party to the Second Optional Protocol on October 30, 2008.
After Rwanda on December 15, Argentina and Chile in September, and Honduras in April, Uzbekistan becomes the fifth country in 2008 to join the only international treaty that enshrines the irreversible abolition of the death penalty in international law.
The delegations taking part in Uzbekistan’s periodic review at the UN Human Rights Council on December 11 noted the country’s efforts on the death penalty among its “positive achievements”.
However, a report compiled by World Coalition member Amnesty International for the periodic review notes: “The authorities have still not published statistics on the death penalty for previous years, including the number of sentences, executions and commutations. The number of those on death row who had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment upon abolition of the death penalty has also not been published. As of July 2008 there has been no progress on providing relatives with information on burial sites of executed prisoners.”
Uzbeks still has some way to go before they can put the death penalty era behind them.