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Uzbekistan: The government limits foreign travel for healthcare workers

26.03.2010 15:50 msk


Human Rights Uzbekistan

Photo of Gomeofan.wordpress.com

The government of Uzbekistan decided to put strict control over foreign trips of hospital managers and healthcare ministry workers.

With the reference to private sources Tashkent-based expert working group (EWG), the independent think tank, reports that on February 15, 2010 the Republic of Uzbekistan Healthcare Ministry issued decree #178, saying that top managers of the healthcare departments, directors of medical centers, chief doctors that want to attend international forums, conferences, seminars, exchange programs, educational programs will be registered.

According to the decree, the healthcare workers, listed in the document and planning a foreign trip, must file appropriate request, addressed to the Minister, and indicate the purpose of the trip at least 10 days prior to the date of departure. If the person is planning to deliver a presentation he must also provide the copies to the healthcare ministry in advance. The doctors must get the permission of the Minister for the foreign trip.

Upon return home the physician must write the final report about his overseas activities and direct it to the Coordination Department of Foreign Economic operations under Uzbek Healthcare ministry within 3 days. Otherwise, he risks punitive measure and ban to leave the republic.

According to EWG, this is the case of rude violation of article 28, the Constitution of Uzbekistan, saying that "the citizen of the Republic of Uzbekistan has a right for free travel within the republic, arrival to and departure from Uzbekistan, except for the cases, set by laws" and article 12 of International Pact on civil and political rights that have the same content.

It has to be mentioned that Uzbek citizens are already limited in free travel. Every person, willing to go abroad (except for few destinations) must get exit visa, the authorization sticker with only 2 years of validity. This authorization requires time and money. The applicant is also never guaranteed to receive the sticker: the laws assume few reasons not to issue such authorization: the official reasons can be the access to state secrets, non-performance of contract liabilities, the verdict of criminal court, military conscription and other.

It has to be mentioned that the authorities may always find a reason to reject the application for exit visa, filed by dissidents. The list of "sufferers" includes Alo Khodzhaev, the ex-Chief Editor of Tashkentskaya Pravda newspaper, Grand radio station and Tribune-uz website, and former diplomat Alisher Taksanov. Alo’s application was rejected due to "inexpedience in exit visa", while Alisher’s case was postponed to uncertain period.

In March of 2005 the UN Human Rights Committee recommended the government of Uzbekistan cancelling the exit visa requirement for its citizens. The committee did it again 5 years later after considering third periodic report of Uzbek government on March 12, 2010. However, there are no doubts that Uzbek government will ignore UN recommendations, especially in the light of recent decree about foreign trips of high ranking healthcare ministry officials.

What is the reason that pushed Uzbekistan to strengthen the control over the hospital managers? Most likely, one of the reasons is intimidation that doctors, well aware of situation in the healthcare industry and statistics, may voluntarily or involuntarily "damage" the international image of Uzbekistan, forcedly positioned as the prosperous country. No doubt that in this country there may be no mass infection, the doctors do not push the sterilization of women, healthcare workers make no diagnosis mistakes, while the general welfare of citizens and doctors in particular is steadily growing. It does not really matter that clicking on the links the reader will observer completely different picture – there are not too many Internet users in Uzbekistan while Ferghana.Ru website remains blocked.