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Freedom of Expression on the Internet: A Case Study of Uzbekistan

In: Review of Central and East European Law
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Abstract

Against the framework of international human rights law, this article studies the regulatory approach towards the exercise of the human right to freedom of expression on the Internet in the legal system of the Central Asian state of Uzbekistan. The mechanisms of state censorship of Internet communication for Uzbek citizens and the restrictions that narrow the scope of freedom of expression in the context of the Internet are the issues in focus. The article argues that the Uzbek government, although publicly committed to democracy and respect for the rule of law under the Constitution, favors regulation that undermines the human right to freedom of expression on both legal and ideological grounds—namely, by enforcing the legal rules on information security and the ideological 'idea of national independence'. The article demonstrates that the absence of legal guarantees of the effective exercise of freedom of expression on the Internet reflects upon the general weakness of Uzbekistan's domestic system of human rights protection. This system gives absolute priority to state interests in legitimizing restrictions upon human rights. The article concludes that the impairment of the right to freedom of expression is inevitable in Uzbekistan unless the government makes an effort to pay full respect to human rights and implement in practice its obligations under international human rights law.

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