Should Uzbek police be trained in human rights or cured of bad habits?

Uzbek police officers; photo: human rights activist Elena Urlayeva
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is providing training courses for Uzbek police in human rights and international law. Does this make any sense in a totalitarian system?

The OSCE is providing training courses for 50 police officers in the Uzbek towns of Karshi and Andijan from 14 to 20 February.

The OSCE web site notes that police officers are also being given the opportunity to discuss topics such as the right
to free assembly, to freedom of speech and to privacy.

These training courses are paid for by the German government and, as the OSCE put it, are part of cooperation between their organisation and the Uzbek Interior Ministry in the sphere of observance of human rights.

“Idle talk”

The head of the OSCE mission in Uzbekistan György Szabó is on leave and could not answer's questions regarding the purpose of training police that directly serve Islam Karimov’s dictatorial regime.
Human rights activists in Tashkent are convinced that these training courses serve no useful purpose and what the OSCE and the German government are doing is simply the imitation of training.

Human rights activist Tatyana Dovlatova believes that the Uzbek police “could not care less about international law”. “All these courses of the OSCE are just idle talk,” she said.

Human rights activist Vladimir Husainov thinks that the OSCE understands that providing these kinds of courses for police officers is a waste of money.

According to him, a couple of years ago representatives of the OSCE office in Tashkent even refused to accept his application stating: “should we start doing anything in the sphere of human rights, we will be thrown out of here immediately”.

“With such an attitude, can the OSCE really teach our police officers not to plant drugs on people, not to torture detainees, and not to fabricate cases?” he asked rhetorically.
Head of OSCE mission in Uzbekistan György Szabó;

In the opinion of human rights activist Abdullo Tojiboy-ugli, Uzbekistan still does not have an overall legal framework for the police force, and therefore lacks statues and bylaws governing police activities. As a result, “the government has organised a gang that cannot be brought to account”.

“In this situation, courses, seminars or training are a simple waste of time and money,” he said.

“System has to be changed”

Another human rights activist, Shuhrat Rustamov, said that training courses for the Uzbek police would turn into a mere “talking shop”.

This event is only for appearance sake

human rights activist Shuhrat Rustamov

“This event is only for appearance sake,” he said.

In Rustamov’s opinion, in order for the Uzbek law-enforcement bodies to observe international human rights laws, they would first need to study the constitution of Uzbekistan.

“Let each policeman sign a written undertaking that he will observe all provisions of the constitution, and that otherwise he will answerable before law. If this were the case, there will be no need for OSCE courses,” Rustamov said.