TASHKENT (TCA) — The upper house of Uzbekistan’s parliament, the Senate, on October 12 approved acting President Shavkat Mirziyaev’s proposal for a mass amnesty of prisoners in Uzbekistan. The amnesty was adopted in honor of the country’s Constitution Day, which is marked on December 8.
The Uzbek Senate is the only body whose approval is necessary for the amnesty to come into force, RFE/RL reports.
The amnesty means that female inmates, people who were convicted of crimes when they were underage, male inmates over 60 years of age, foreigners, and handicapped prisoners, among others, will be released from prison.
It is not known exactly how many prisoners are affected by the pardon.
The amnesty is the first clemency adopted after long-time Uzbek leader Islam Karimov’s death was officially announced on September 2.
Previous amnesties linked to the Constitution Day were adopted only several days before the December 8 holiday.
Many in Uzbekistan consider Mirziyaev’s early announcement of a prisoner pardon as a way to win more supporters ahead of the December 4 presidential election.
However, such amnesties have rarely affected Uzbekistan’s political prisoners whose number is measured by thousands according to international rights organizations, the Fergana information agency reports. Uzbek authorities deny the existence of political prisoners in the country, as many of them have been convicted on fabricated charges for criminal offences.