Police in Uzbekistan will soon be required to install close circuit cameras in interrogation rooms in the latest measure to reform the law enforcement system, local media reported on May 1.
News website Podbrobno.uz reported that under an order signed by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, the measure is due to take effect from January 1, 2018.
To further inculcate transparency and internal communication, a system of video conferencing will also be put in place between the central investigation department and regional branches.
These proposals arise from criticism leveled at the police by Mirziyoyev in February. Speaking at a government meeting, the president noted that policing techniques had become outdated and that investigations were getting bogged down as a result.
In March, a law that formally laid out the responsibilities of the police force came into effect. The development had been long awaited by activists distraught by the fact that law enforcement operated without any firm rules on engagement with the public or, for that matter, criminal suspects.
One provision in the law calls for the “principle of openness and transparency” in the activities of the police. The legislation also requires that the police provide access to information about its activities, including to the media.
On paper, the police is going through a radical overhaul in its relations with the public. An online comments box was installed on the Interior Ministry website in February. And telephone numbers for police departments hotlines have been posted online so people can call in complaints about illegal activity by officers.
In reality, however, things are not going quite so smoothly, particularly when it comes to dealings with the press.
Viktora Sidorenko, a reporter with Vestnik Bukhara newspaper, said that in the Bukhara region, for example, the local branch of the Interior Ministry doesn’t even have a press secretary. This function is typically fulfilled by another member of staff, which means the level of interaction is accordingly weak and sporadic.
“But we have had progress in comparison with years past. For example, every Thursday … the police itself brings us information to the newspaper. And they have begun regularly inviting journalists along to police raids in the city and region,” Sidorenko told EurasiaNet.org.
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