The Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan On Freedom of Worship and Religious Organizations (New Version)

(The following is the text of the new law as published in 'Narodnoye Slovo'; from BBC, courtesy of Felix Corley)

Article 1. The aim of the present law
The aim of the present law is to ensure the right of every person to freedom of worship and religion, and the citizens equality irrespective of their religious convictions, and to regulate relations arising from religious organizations' activity.

Article 2. Legislation on freedom of worship and religious organizations
Legislation on freedom of worship and religious organizations consists of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the present law and other legislative acts. Regulations to do with ensuring the freedom of worship and activity of religious organization in the [Autonomous] Republic of Karakalpakstan shall be in addition regulated by the legislation of the Republic of Karakalpakstan. If an international agreement of the Republic of Uzbekistan sets rules different from those stipulated in the legislation of the Republic of Uzbekistan the provisions of the international agreement shall apply.

Article 3. Freedom of worship
Freedom of worship is the citizens' right guaranteed by the constitution to profess or not to profess any religion. Any compulsion of a citizen in defining his religious convictions, deciding whether to profess or not, whether to take part in worship, religious rituals and ceremonies, or receive religious education is inadmissible. Involvement of minors in religious organizations as well as teaching them any religion against their will, or the will of their parents or custodians is inadmissible. The freedom of worship or any other conviction are subject only to the restrictions necessary to ensure national security and public order, and life, health, morals, rights and freedoms of other citizens. Foreign citizens and people without citizenship enjoy the freedom of worship and religion equally with the citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan and bear the responsibility the law envisages for breaching the legislation on freedom of worship and religious organizations.

Article 4. Equality of citizens irrespective of their religious convictions
Citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan irrespective of their religious convictions have the same legal rights. Indication of a citizen's religious convictions in an official document is inadmissible. Any restriction of the rights and granting any direct or indirect privileges to citizens on the basis of their religious convictions, stirring up hostility or hatred or insulting citizens' feelings on the basis of their religious or atheistic convictions, as well as the desecration of treasured religious sites shall be actionable in accordance with the law. Nobody can refuse to observe any legal obligations on grounds of his religious convictions. One legal obligation can be replaced by another on grounds of religious convictions only in cases envisaged by the law.

Article 5. Separation of religion from the state
In the Republic of Uzbekistan religion is separated from the state. Granting any privileges to or imposing restrictions upon any individual religion is inadmissible. The state shall promote establishment of mutual tolerance and respect between the citizens professing different religions and the non-believers, between religious organizations of different confession, and not allow religious or other fanaticism and extremism, and actions aimed at setting off one religion against another and stirring up hostility between them . The state shall maintain peace and accord between religious confessions. Actions aimed at converting believers of one religion into other (proselytism) as well as any other missionary activity are prohibited. People responsible for violation of this rule shall bear responsibility in accordance with the law. The state shall not charge religious organizations with carrying out any state functions, and shall not interfere into their activity provided it does not contradict the law. Religious organizations shall not fulfill any state functions. The state shall not finance activity of religious organizations and activity propagating atheism. In the Republic of Uzbekistan creation and activity of religious political parties and public movements as well as branches and sections of religious parties set up outside the republic is inadmissible. Religious organizations are obliged to follow provisions of the existing legislation. The use of religion for anti-state and anti-constitutional propaganda, and to incite hostility, hatred, inter-ethnic discord, to undermine ethical norms and civil accord, to spread libelous, and destabilizing ideas, to create panic among the people and for other actions against the state, society and individual is inadmissible. Activity of religious organizations, movements, and sects which encourage terrorism, drugs trade and organized crime, and other mercenary ends is banned. Any attempts to pressure the state authority organizations and departments and officials as well as any illegal religious activity shall be persecuted by the law.

Article 6. Rights of state organizations and citizens' self- government organizations in their relations with religious organizations
The coordination of relations between state organizations and religious organizations and control over observation of the legislation on freedom of worship and religious organizations shall be carried out by the Committee for Religious Affairs under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The committee's legal status shall be defined by a Regulation approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The Council of Ministers of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, regional, district and town administrations as well as citizens' self-government organizations shall in accordance with the law bear responsibility for observation of the legislation on freedom of worship and religious organizations.

Article 7. Education system and religion
The education system in the Republic of Uzbekistan is separate from religion. Introduction of religious subjects into an academic curriculum is inadmissible. The right to secular education is guaranteed to the citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan irrespective of their religious convictions.

Article 8. Religious organizations
A religious organization is a voluntary association of citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan set up for joint profession of a religion, exercise religious services, customs and rituals (religious societies, religious education establishments, mosques, churches, synagogues, monasteries and others). A religious organization shall be set up at an initiative of not less than 100 citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan aged over 18 and permanently residing on the territory of the Republic of Uzbekistan. To coordinate and direct activity of organizations of an individual religion they may set up a single central administration body for the Republic of Uzbekistan (further central administration body). A central administration body shall be set up at a constituent meeting (conference) of representatives of registered organizations of an individual religion from at least eight territorial entities of the Republic of Uzbekistan (a Region, the city of Tashkent, the Republic of Karakalpakstan). Religious organizations obtain the status of a legal subject and can carry out their activities after their registration at the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Uzbekistan or its local departments in the order established by the law. Religious organization can be headed by citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan having corresponding religious education . Foreign candidates to head a religious organization registered in the republic shall be approved by the Committee for Religious Affairs under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

Article 9. Religious schools.
Religious organizations' central administration bodies have a right to set up schools to train clergy and required religious personnel. Religious schools obtain the right to operate after their registration at the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Uzbekistan and receiving a corresponding licence. Citizens can enter a higher or secondary religious school after receiving general compulsory secondary education in accordance with the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan On Education. People teaching religious subjects in religious schools should have religious education and can work with permission from a corresponding central administration body. Private teaching of religious principles is prohibited.

Article 10. Religious organization's rules
A religious organization's rules should contain the following information: its name, form of organization, address and creed; aims, tasks and main forms of activity; structure and administration bodies; sources of funding and property relations within the organization; procedure for making amendments and addenda to the rules; other information on the religious organization. Rules of religious organizations having a central administration body shall be approved by that administration body.

Article 11. Registration of religious organizations
Religious organizations' central administration bodies shall be registered by the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Uzbekistan, and other religious organizations - by the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, regional justice departments, and the Tashkent city justice department respectively with approval of the Committee for Religious Affairs under the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan. To be registered a religious organization should present the following documents: an application signed by not less than 100 citizens of the Republic of Uzbekistan who initiate setting up of a religious organization; rules of the religious organization; a constituent meeting protocol; a document certifying address of the religious organization being set up; a document certifying payment of the registration fee. An applications for registration of a religious organization's central administration body should be supported by the following documents: an application signed by the chairman and secretary of the constituent meeting (conference); rules of the religious organization's central administration body; the constituent meeting (conference) protocol; a document authorizing the founders; a document certifying the address of the management body; a document certifying payment of the registration fee. Registration applications from religious organizations and their central administration bodies shall be considered within a month from the date of their submission. Justice bodies have a right to ask corresponding organizations for additional materials and experts' judgements on a religious organization applying for registration. In such case the decision shall be taken during three months from the date of application. Addenda and amendments to a religious organization's rules shall be registered in the same order and on the same terms as the religious organization itself. Religious organizations' leaders' evasion of registration of their organizations' rules at state bodies will be punished in accordance with the law. Control over a religious organization's compliance with its rules shall be carried out by a registering body. Officials who allow activity of non-registered religious organizations shall bear responsibility in accordance with the law.

Article 12. Refusal to register a religious organization
A religious organization can be refused registration if provisions of its rules or other documents contradict provisions of the present law or other laws of the Republic of Uzbekistan. A religious organization which is refused registration shall be notified about the decision by a letter specifying reasons for the refusal. The religious organization's founders have a right to apply again to the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Uzbekistan and its local departments provided they bring their rules in line with the law. Refusal to register a religious organization or violation of provisions of the present law by justice agencies can be applied against with court.

Article 13. Discontinuation of a religious organization's activity
Activity of a religious organization shall be halted at its own volition or if it violates this law or other laws of the Republic of Uzbekistan. A decision to halt the activity of a religious organization shall be taken by a registering body. The decision can be appealed against in a court of law.

Article 14. Religious rites and ceremonies
Religious organizations have a right to create and maintain facilities for free worship and carrying out religious rites, and to maintain pilgrimage sites. Worship, religious rites and ceremonies shall be exercised at a religious organization's premises, prayer buildings and other properties belonging to the organization, at pilgrimage sites, cemeteries, and in cases of ritual necessity and at citizens' will at home. Worship and religious rites can be exercised in hospitals, nursing homes, detention centres, prisons and labour camps at the request of the people staying there. Public worship and religious rites can be held outside religious buildings in the order established by the law of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Citizens' of the Republic of Uzbekistan (except religious organization's ministers) cannot appear in public places in religious attire. Religious organizations cannot subject believers to compulsory payment of money, or taxation, and to actions insulting their honour and dignity.

Article 15. Religious organizations property
Religious organizations can own buildings, objects of veneration, facilities for production, social and charitable use, money and other property required to carry out their activity and bought or built with their own money or people's or public associations' donations, or given by the state. They can also own property in a foreign country and property obtained in the other ways envisaged by the law. Religious organizations' right to property is protected by the law.

Article 16. Use of state property
Religious organizations have a right to use for their needs buildings and other property handed over to them by state organizations under a contract. Historic or cultural sites and items can be handed over for use to religious organizations in accordance with the law. Religious organizations can be allotted land plots to build religious buildings in the established order and with permission of the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Karakalpakstan, and administrations of the Regions and the city of Tashkent, and the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan respectively.

Article 17. Production and economic activity
Religious organizations' central administration bodies proceeding from their aims set out in the rules have a right to set up in accordance with the legislation of the republic of Uzbekistan publishing, production, restoration and construction, agricultural and other enterprises, as well as charity establishments (orphanages, hospitals).

Article 18. Management of religious organizations property after their closure
After a religious organization ceases its activity its property if taken for temporary use shall be returned to its previous owner. After a religious organization ceases its activity it manages its own property in accordance with its rules and the legislation. On a religious organization's application the cabinet of Minister of the Republic of Uzbekistan shall draw a list of its property of a religious nature which can not be claimed by creditors. If there is Religious literature and other religious items Religious organizations' central administration bodies have a right to produce, export, import and distribute religious items, religious literature and other information materials with a religious contenblished by the law of the Republic of Uzbekistan. Delivery and distribution of religious literature published abroad is allowed after its content is examined for export in the order established by the law. Religious organizations' central adminise. Production, storage and distribution of printed materials, video and audio products, photographs and other materials carrying ideas of religious extremism, separatism and fundamentalism will be dealt with in accordance with the legislation.

Articlivity Religious organizations can carry out charity activity.

Article 21. Labour relations in religious organizations
Citizens working in religious organizations under a contract are subject to the labour legislation of the Republic of Uzbekistations Religious organizations can in accordance with the law establish and maintain international relations in order to carry out pilgrimages and take part in other religious actions.

Article 23. Responsibility for breaking the legislation on freedom of religious organizations
officials, religious organizations' ministers and citizens shall bear responsibility in accordance with the law of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

Resolution by the Oliy Majlis [parliament] of the Republic of Uzbekistan On the pr Republic of Uzbekistan resolves:
1. To bring into force the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan On Freedom of Worship and Religious Organizations in its new version on the day of its promulgation.
2. To establish that until the legislation is brounew version those p aragraphs of the existing acts of the legislation of the Republic of Uzbekistan shall apply which do not contradict the said law.
3. The Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan is to bring its government resolutions in liure that its ministries and de partments review and void those normative acts which contradict the said law.
4. The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Uzbekistan is within three months to ensure re-registration of religious organizations in accordaits new version.
Chairman of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan Erkin Khalilov
1st May 1998, Tashkent

[p2] Source : `Narodnoye Slovo', Tashkent, in Russian 15 May 98

BBC Mon CAU190598/01 BB/JD