TASHKENT (TCA) — Uzbekistan President Shavkat Mirziyoev has signed a decree ordering what state media outlets called the first mass pardoning of convicts in the country’s history, RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service reported.
A total of 2,700 convicts were pardoned under the decree signed on December 7, and 956 of them will be released from prison, state media reports said.
Others were serving suspended sentences or were not in prison for other reasons.
Mirziyoev’s decree was timed to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Constitution Uzbekistan adopted on December 8, 1992, months after it gained independence in the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The media reports said that the decree differed from previous presidential amnesties because a commission was created in September to determine convicts eligible for pardons.
“The act on pardoning these convicts provides the opportunity for an early reunification with a family and returning to society in order to become active participants in the ongoing reforms in the country,” Mirziyoev’s press service said.
Several jailed journalists, politicians, and others seen by rights groups as political prisoners have been released since Mirziyoev came to power in September 2016, after the death of longtime autocrat Islam Karimov.
In October, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that Uzbek authorities had taken “some positive steps” during Mirziyoev’s first year in office and called for “sustainable” improvements in human rights.