In Uzbekistan, constitutional referendum gained enormous support allowing the President to stay in power until 2040. The reforms also were promising to strengthen individual rights. The referendum was held in accordance with Uzbekistan Senate Resolution No. PS-702-IV of March 14, 2023. The new constitution became effective on May 1, 2023, upon official publication.
The newly adopted constitution consists of 26 chapters and 155 articles, and covers a wide range of issues. They include abolishing the death penalty, prohibiting forced labor, extending the presidential term from five to seven years, reducing the number of senators, separating the powers of representative bodies and the executive bodies in regional local governments, banning the extradition of Uzbek citizens to foreign countries, establishing protections for the activities of defense lawyers and advocates, strengthening the independence of the judiciary, increasing the accountability of public officials, elevating the status of the Constitutional Court, and ensuring that a person cannot be detained for longer than 48 hours without a court ruling.
The constitutional revamp will see around two-thirds of the existing document rewritten, with individual rights given prominence. Public consultations led to more than 60,000 proposals, with around a quarter of the suggestions incorporated into the draft.
Rights to free health care, education, gender equality and decent conditions in the workplace will be enshrined. Property rights will be strengthened, including those for homeowners facing forced evictions. Criminal suspects will be granted the option of remaining silent, and prisoners are promised improved rights as well.
The new constitution also introduces a new system of checks and balances to strengthen the independence of the judiciary.
Under the new constitution, the Constitutional Court has been reorganized and a new procedure for electing judges to the court has been introduced. The constitution states that the Constitutional Court is to be elected by the Senate following the submission by the president of a list of professionals recommended by the Supreme Judicial Council.
All judges are to serve a single ten-year term without the right to reelection and judges must be independent and cannot be sued or penalized for their decisions in any particular case.