Property rights – a fundamental value for Uzbekistan

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Uzbekistan flag waving in the blue sky in the wind

Sardor Mannonov

In recent years, a number of positive reforms have been carried out in the field of protection of private property rights in Uzbekistan. These positive changes serve to improve the investment and business environment, thereby further increasing the investment attractiveness of the country.

In this regard, if we pay attention to the historical evolution of the development of property rights in the territory of Uzbekistan, the emergence of these relations has its long history.

Evolution of the formation of property rights on the territory  of Uzbekistan

In particular, the first forms of property rights in Uzbekistan were mentioned in the sacred book of Zoroastrianism “Avesto”, according to which property rights were classified into three types: private, public and state property. All these forms of ownership were protected by the state in accordance with the established rules.

After that, the further development of ownership forms was associated with the penetration of Islam in the territory of Uzbekistan. Muslim law clearly defined the forms of property rights, the legal status of movable and immovable property, and the protection of property owners by the state.

The process of initial codification of property rights in the territory of Uzbekistan was carried out in the 1920s, which mainly reflected the forms of state ownership.

Property rights in independent Uzbekistan. The inviolability of private property in independent Uzbekistan and its state protection are first of all enshrined in the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan. The main goal of all reforms since independence is to protect the personal, social, economic and political rights and freedoms of the people.

Article 36 of the Constitution of the Republic of Uzbekistan , which  is the legal, economic and moral basis for the implementation of reforms, states that everyone has the right to own property, and Article 44  states that Everyone shall be entitled to legally defend his rights and freedoms, and shall have the right to appeal any unlawful action of state bodies, officials and public associations.

This is the encyclopedic recognition of the desire to live a decent life and enjoy results of his abilities and labor as an owner.

The adoption of the Civil Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan, as well as the laws “On property in the Republic of Uzbekistan” in 1990  and “On protection of private property and guarantees of property rights” in 2012  has played a historic role in ensuring and guaranteeing the protection of property rights.

The fact that the article 166 of Civil Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan  provides for the inviolability and judicial protection of property, and the article 1921 of Criminal Code of the Republic of Uzbekistan  defines the protection of private property from encroachment as one of the most important objects, is a clear confirmation of the existence of a solid legal basis for property protection in Uzbekistan.

Enhancing protection of private property in new Uzbekistan.Uzbekistan’s Development Strategy on five priority areas for 2017-2021, adopted by the President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, identifies strengthening the guarantees of citizens’ rights to private property as one of the important tasks.

Besides that, new legal acts have recently been adopted in order to strengthen the protection of property rights in Uzbekistan, including the Decree of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated July 27, 2018 No. 5490 “On measures to further improve the system of protection of the rights and legitimate interests of business entities” , the Resolution of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan dated August 3, 2019 No. 5491 “On additional measures to ensure the unconditional guarantee of property rights of citizens and businesses” , as well as the Decree of the Cabinet of Ministers dated November 16, 2019 No-911 “Additional measures on ensuring guarantees of property rights of individuals and legal entities and improving the procedure for withdrawal and compensation of land plots” .

Additionally, New law of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On amendments

and additions to some legislative acts of the Republic of Uzbekistan in connection with further strengthening the guarantees of property rights and legitimate interests” was adopted on 23 December, 2020 .

This Law has made relevant amendments to the laws of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On denationalization and privatization”, “On local government”, “On protection of private property and guarantees of property rights” and the Land Code, which are designed to ensure protection of private property rights in Uzbekistan.

The main essence and purpose of such measures is to ensure the guarantee of property rights and improve the legal framework in this regard, but also to form citizens’ legal ability and awareness to know How to protect their rights as owners.

The role of legal literacy in property relations.The scale and effectiveness of the work, directed to improve people’s legal awareness and culture, in particular, legal literacy in property relations, is growing day by day.

The exercise of a property rights can cause some conflicts between actors

of this process, because it is mainly connected with conflict of interests. In this case, the protection of the rights of honest and conscientious participants in property relations is largely due to their strict adherence to the legal norms, governing this process.

Indeed, property relations play a key role between individuals in our life and such relations are, of course, encountered with someone every day, in one form or another. Naturally, there are sometimes misunderstandings, disputes and various conflicts between the participants when entering into such relationships.

If we pay attention to the causes of these disputes, there are some following common cases:

– parties are not fully familiar with the legislation on property issues;

– indifferent attitude to the performance of contractual obligations;

– parties do not fully understand their rights and obligations under the law

or contract.

Especially, people or legal entities are more likely to make mistakes in the field of privatization, sale, lease, gift, bequest, mortgaging, distribution or separation of joint property because procedures are relatively complicated.

The relevant legislation also provides for specific procedures and procedural actions in the consideration of applications to the courts on this category of disputes, which, if the parties are not sufficiently aware of them, may face certain difficulties in protecting their property rights in court.

However, in spite of complexity of these procedures, it is the responsibility of the participants in this process to know and follow the requirements of the law, which first and foremost, will serve the interests of these individuals to protect their rights.

Measures to put end land acquisition for public needs without court decisions and fair, full and prompt compensation.

In addition, as it was already mentioned that currently a number of laws are being adopted or the existing legislation is being developed by amendments and additions which are directed to the improvement of property relations, further strengthening of contract discipline.

However, land acquisition for public needs, as well as the demolition of facilities located on the confiscated land plot, has become a topical issue in many countries including Uzbekistan too. It should be mentioned that inadequate legal regulation of these issues often leads to protests among the population.

The Government of Uzbekistan has adopted the Resolution “On the procedure for land acquisition and compensation of owners of real estate located on the seized land” on November 16, 2019 No 911 in order to eliminate such kinds of problems. As a result, a new procedure has been established to regulate this process and ensure compensation for real estate owners. This regulation came into force on January 1, 2020 and regulates a number of issues related to land acquisition for public needs.

However, these aforementioned issues still need to be addressed at the legislative level to strengthen the property rights of individuals and legal entities in the seizure of land for public needs in Uzbekistan. Taking into account this facts, the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Uzbekistan has started to work out the draft law of Uzbekistan to reinforce strong regulation of procedures on land acquisition for public needs to be paid fair, full and prompt compensation.

Main objective of this draft law is to establish exact payment of fair, full and prompt compensation for land acquisition for public needs to individuals and legal entities as an owner or permanent or temporary user of this land. As a result

of its adoption, it is expected to regulate all procedures in this sphere by a single law, which will be designed to prevent conflicts and effectively resolve disputes in this area, to strengthen the protection of the rights and legitimate interests of landowners.

In conclusion, we think that it would not be an exaggeration to say that property rights on the territory of Uzbekistan have been formed for many centuries, and today it has become a fundamental value. Because all ongoing fundamental and democratic reforms are mainly directed to enhance the protection of human rights, ensure the inevitability of private property, in short, to provide prosperity of a rule of law in the country on the basis of democratic principles.

The writer is Lawyer, Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Uzbekistan