ICC NOTE: With the death of Uzbek strongman Islam Karimov, the seat of power for one of the most repressive Central Asian nations is up for grabs. The likelihood of power shifting away from the Karimov family is very slim based on the the amount of power Karimov accumulated over his nearly three decade long rule. Uzbekistan is among the top 17 worst countries in the world for religious freedom. Many laws and regulations implemented have been carried over from when Uzbekistan was a satellite state to the Soviet Union.
9/6/2016 Uzbekistan (Japan Times) – With the passing of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, the outlines of his legacy can begin to take shape. While Karimov can retain credit for leading Uzbekistan through its first quarter-century of independent statehood, the predominance of Karimov’s most notable achievements dovetail directly from the human rights restrictions — and, in certain cases, horrors — rampant under his stewardship. Moreover, his regime and family have managed to not only establish mechanisms of autocracy other post-Soviet autocracies have mimicked, but they’ve managed, over the past few years, to lead a parallel, record-setting campaign of kleptocracy.
To be sure, some of the domestic realities Karimov left behind weren’t necessarily the most appalling internationally, based on available metrics. Rather, they’re merely indicative of the domestic repression brought to bear under Karimov.
For instance, while not the worst globally, Uzbekistan under Karimov had both a lower score than Saudi Arabia in Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index and a worse score in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index than Zimbabwe.
Karimov’s Uzbekistan also found itself among the 17 worst countries internationally for religious freedom, per the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, and, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, was one of only two post-Soviet countries in the top 15 globally for the total number of journalists jailed. And according to Freedom House — with whom, in the interest of disclosure, I’ve worked in the past — Uzbekistan was not only one of 10 nations labeled as the “Worst of the Worst” in 2015, but has received the worst possible score every year since 2006.