The law sends a clear message that the government is determined to combat corruption based on international experience, but more specific by-laws are expected to follow.
In December last year, newly elected President of Uzbekistan Mr. Shavkat Mirziyoev signed into law the long-awaited Act on Countering Corruption, the development of which had been sped up at his initiative after the death of the country’s first President. The new law makes an attempt to define the concepts related to the subject, to systematize the measures aimed at eradication of corruption, and to divide respective responsibilities between security and law enforcement agencies.
The law provides for the definitions of ‘corruption’, ‘corruption offences’, and ‘conflict of interests’, tending, however, to be general. Unlike some of its analogues in other post-Soviet states, the law does not define the term ‘officials’ or ‘employees of state bodies’ and does not list the categories of individuals that have a specifically responsibility or limitations under the new law. It is, therefore, the Criminal Code and related acts that have to be recoursed to.
Several state agencies are named as responsible for implementing anti-corruption measures, including the General Prosecutor Office, the National Security Service, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Justice, and relevant sub-departments. Along with these bodies, a special Inter-Departmental Commission is set to be established with divisions covering each region of the country. The law establishes that rules governing Commission’s activities must be elaborated by the Presidential Administration.
Having largely a declarative nature, the law is vague in description of those measures that must be taken by the mentioned agencies. General requirements for greater transparency, anti-corruption education, introduction of higher ethical and conduct standards, and vigilance are set forth.
Several specific provisions in the law provide for (i) the requirement for state bodies’ employees to inform their management about corruption offences and conflicts of interest they may be directly or indirectly involved in; (ii) the right of mass media to demand the information on corruption offences from state bodies; (iii) the requirement for a specific anti-corruption examination of regulations being drafted by ministries and state agencies, and (iv) the necessity to make measures on protection of whistleblowers.
In summary, although the law sends a clear message that the government is determined to combat corruption and wishes to rely on international experience in the area, a somewhat declarative nature of the act and references to abstract regulatory norms in it make the created regulatory framework not a self-sufficient one. It is, therefore, subordinated by-laws that will follow are expected to introduce more substantiality in the regulatory regime that is being formed.