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Home / Other / Elections-2016 / Ombudsman’s Office Launches Voters’ Hotline

Ombudsman’s Office Launches Voters’ Hotline

Uzbekistan Today correspondent has interviewed the Oliy Majlis Commissioner for Human Rights, Ulughbek Muhammadiyev, on the role of the institution of Ombudsman in the electoral process.

 

“The institution of Ombudsman was set up in Uzbekistan in 1995. In contrast to West European practices, his/her competencies include not only monitoring the activities of executive bodies, but also the issues of observation and protection of human rights by courts and law enforcement agencies. Our country was one of the first in the CIS to establish such a government-supported human rights protection body, and many countries of the Commonwealth followed suit at a later stage.”

“What is the role of the Ombudsman in the improvement of legislation in human rights, in the sphere of citizens’ electoral rights in particular?”

“Ombudsman takes part in all sessions of the Legislative Chamber (lower house) of Oliy Majlis (Supreme Assembly, Uzbekistan’s bicameral parliament) and has the opportunity to publicly voice his/her opinion in the course of reading of a bill not only in the lower house, but also during its discussion at the Senate.

“We also take part in the process of perfecting the election legislation, since it is associated with securing one of the most important rights of citizens – participation in public administration and governance. For example, our proposals were taken into consideration in the process of introducing amendments and addenda into the Law on the Election of President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, in December 2015. In particular, the novelties provided for an opportunity to set up polling stations at detention premises, which allows citizens not yet convicted of crime to exercise their electoral rights.”

“What is your personal involvement in the preparation for and conducting presidential elections?”

“We have elaborated a plan of basic activities on raising the people’s electoral culture and electoral activity, thus ensuring the citizens’ electoral rights. It includes measures of enlightening nature aimed at delivering the essence and content of electoral legislation to the broad strata of the population, especially such social groups as women, the disabled, representatives of ethnic cultural centers, servicemen and women, and others.

“We will also monitor the elections and promptly respond to all cases of impeding the free exercise by citizens of their right to elect and clarify them their right to appeal in the event of violation of electoral legislation.

“The establishment of direct hotline on the issues of citizens’ participation in the election of the President of Uzbekistan will become an important tool in this process. Any voter can get a qualified legal advice over the telephone on the citizens’ guaranteed electoral rights or all necessary information related to the preparation for and conducting the upcoming presidential ballot. Such questions as procedures for forming the lists of voters, inclusion of citizens into those lists and acquaintance with them; possibility of participation in the meetings with political parties’ candidates with their electorate; voting procedures, including early voting, as well as at the place of a voter’s sojourn; procedures for filling in the ballot paper (sheet); procedures and deadlines for lodging an appeal on the decisions of precinct electoral commissions to a superior commission or judicial bodies, and many other issues.

“Citizens may use the direct hotline by dialing a four-digit phone number – 1096. All calls are free country-wide. On the 3rd and 4th of December the line will operate round-the-clock.

 “We also intend to deliver information-analytical materials on the results of election monitoring and generalized appeals received from citizens on the direct hotline, as well as proposals advanced by voters and representatives of civil society institutions to the Central Election Commission and to the committees of the chambers of Oliy Majlis.”

 “One of the novelties in the electoral legislation is organization of voting at the places of temporary detention…”

“Yes, that’s right. Under the law, the Ombudsman can freely visit penitentiary institutions, hold meetings and discussions with detained persons or those held in custody. 

“In particular, in November we intend to hold meetings with citizens who are held in places of temporary detention and inform them in detail about their rights to free expression and participation in the election of President of the Republic of Uzbekistan.”

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