Challenges: Uzbekistan’s relatively large, youthful population, strategic location north of Afghanistan, including its role in the Northern Distribution Network (NDN), and extensive mineral resources, including natural gas, gold and uranium, make it a potential force for economic growth and stability in the Central Asia region. Uzbekistan is also the only Central Asian country that borders on all the other nations in Central Asia (Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan) as well as Afghanistan, and is situated on key east-west and north-south trade routes. This also makes the country vulnerable to drug trafficking and presents problems in border security. Corruption, law enforcement efficiency, human trafficking, and rule of law issues are challenges to the government, which INL helps to address. Uzbekistan’s profile has increased significantly since the election of President Mirziyoyev in December 2016, due to sweeping reforms being instituted by his government and a policy of promoting good relations with regional neighbors, including Afghanistan.
Goals: INL’s flagship program in Uzbekistan focuses on justice reform and combating corruption in support of the government’s initiatives. Through its foreign assistance programs, INL promotes the key U.S. foreign policy objectives of promoting the security and stability of Uzbekistan and supporting regional connectivity in the security sector. INL’s forensics program supports the rule of law by bolstering the ability of the Uzbek government to present reliable and credible forensic evidence in criminal proceedings. In addition to its justice reform program, INL also supports the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in its efforts to work with the government on criminal justice and anti-money laundering. Through the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), INL is assisting the government to more effectively address corruption, in a manner consistent with the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights. Capacity-building among criminal investigators and prosecutors includes training and related assistance in combatting trafficking in persons.
Accomplishments: Through INL’s support, the Ministry of Health Bureau of Forensics Medical Examiner has achieved ISO 9001 certification for forensic laboratories, a first in the country, and has been delivering a series of workshops in the use of forensic evidence for investigators, prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges. In regard to trafficking in persons, INL assistance along with that of other donors has helped Uzbekistan achieve a dramatic increase in TIP-NGOs and law enforcement cooperation focused on victim identification and investigations of TIP crimes. INL has fostered partnerships between Uzbekistan’s government legal training academies, and its Supreme Court and the United States Federal Judicial Center. These programs have provided U.S. and other Western expertise that assists the government in implementing its rule of law reform programs.