U.S. NGOs Benefit Civil Society
We do not accept the charges made by Minister of Justice Polvon Zoda at his May 21 press conference that American NGOs violated their charters or engaged in anti-constitutional activity by having contact with unregistered political organizations.
American NGOs have come to Uzbekistan to help foster the growth of democracy and civil society as part of a goal mutually agreed upon in our Bilateral Declaration on the Strategic Partnership and Cooperation Framework.
In the Declaration, the Government of Uzbekistan affirmed its commitment to strengthen and develop democratic values, ensuring respect for human rights and freedoms based on the universally recognized principles and norms of international law, and the United States agreed to support those goals. That, naturally, requires these NGOs, as our implementing partners, to reach out to all interested individuals, whether or not they are registered as a political party or NGO.
We also dispute the charge that Freedom House attempted to aid a political party in getting registered. Freedom House does not work with political parties, registered or unregistered.
We are disappointed that the Open Society Institute was not registered. We are certain that none of its activities provided moral support to religious extremists.
American NGOs operate openly and in keeping with both their charters and the Strategic Declaration. American NGOs welcome the participation of GOU officials in their events. Indeed, officials from the Procuracy and many Ministries, including MOJ, MVD, and NSS have participated in such activities. This cooperation between American NGOs and Uzbek officials had excellent results in fighting trafficking in persons and drugs, and in improving human rights in Uzbekistan.
While there have been issues concerning NGO registration and activities, we have had success in resolving these through private discussions with government officials. We expect that this constructive approach will continue in the future.