Authorities in Uzbekistan have created a register aimed at tracking individuals convicted of crimes against minors, specifically sexual violence.
Individuals included on the register will be barred from any line of work involving children, Tanzila Narbayeva, the chairwoman of the upper house of parliament, wrote on her Telegram account on November 18.
Narbayeva framed this initiative as a continuation of landmark legislation adopted earlier this year that provided women and children with greater protections against gender-based violence.
Other provisions of that law, which was approved by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev on April 11, envision fines or prison time for people found guilty of assaulting a current or former spouse, a cohabitant, or the parent of a shared child.
Individuals eligible for inclusion in the registry of child abusers include those convicted of offenses such as murder, rape, forced sexual acts, involvement in producing or disseminating child pornography, and terrorism.
As news website Gazeta.uz has noted, however, it remains unclear if the register will be made available for public scrutiny, as has been proposed by activists working on combating violence against women and children.
More legislation is in the works to enhance protections for children.
Last month, the National Agency for Social Protection, a recently created body operating under the aegis of Mirziyoyev’s office, the Justice Ministry, and UNICEF collectively argued at roundtable for the swift adoption of a draft law protecting children from all forms of violence.
This additional set of measures aims not only to penalize perpetrators of abuse but also to provide support for victims of such violence.
UNICEF said in a press release issued after that roundtable that the adoption of the draft law would provide “stronger legal safeguards, and enhanced support systems like family counseling, mental health and psychosocial support, life skills education, and access to safe shelter, to ensure [the wellbeing of children] and protection from violence, fear and harm.”
Uzbekistan has scored some notable victories in improving child welfare in recent years.
In its reporting last year on efforts made by the government to eradicate the use of underage laborers to pick cotton, the International Labor Organization noted that around 2 million children were no longer being made to go work in the fields.
Despite this progress, there is substantial anecdotal evidence suggesting prevalent use of child labor in other sectors. Additionally, hurdles in registering non-governmental, non-profit organizations limit formal civil society's ability to assess the scale of the problem and contribute to solutions.
While officials express determination to uphold children's rights, their capacity for action is constrained. Currently, approximately 2,000 juvenile affairs inspectors are employed within the Interior Ministry. Meanwhile, estimates from the State Statistics Committee indicate there are about 10.5 million children under the age of 15 in Uzbekistan.