Uzbekistan is an authoritarian state with a constitution that provides for a presidential system with separation of powers, but the executive branch dominated political life and exercised nearly complete control over the other branches of government. In March 2015, voters elected the President to a fourth term in office in polling that, according to the limited observer mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), deprived voters of a genuine choice due to “the lack of a political alternative to the incumbent president.” Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control over the security forces, but security services permeated civilian structures, and their interaction is opaque, which makes it difficult to define the scope and limits of civilian authority.
During 2015, the most significant human rights problems included: torture and abuse of detainees by security forces; denial of due process and fair trial; disregard for the rule of law; and an inability to change the government through elections.
Other continuing human rights problems included: incommunicado and prolonged detention; harsh and sometimes life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; widespread restrictions on religious freedom, including harassment of religious minority group members and continued imprisonment of believers of all faiths; restrictions on freedom of speech, press, assembly, and association; restrictions on civil society; restrictions on freedom of movement; violence against women; the inability of citizens to obtain basic social services, or find redress for such problems; and government-organized forced labor. Authorities subjected human rights activists, journalists, and others who criticized the government, as well as their family members, to harassment, arbitrary arrest, severe physical abuse, and politically motivated prosecution and detention.
Government prosecutions of officials were rare and selective, and officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity.