As noted in the report, in 2019, religious freedom conditions in Uzbekistan trended positively. The government took notable steps to address some of the long-standing and significant religious freedom concerns that had led USCIRF to recommend Uzbekistan’s designation as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), every year since 2005, including in April 2019. Throughout 2019, the government by and large successfully enforced a ban on law enforcement authorities raiding and harassing religious communities, and in August announced the closure of the notorious Jasliq Prison, a course of action USCIRF had recommended.
This decision became a recognition of Uzbekistan’s progress, as the Commission previously indicated the need for including the country in the “black list” of violators of religious freedoms, despite the fact that the State Department removed Uzbekistan from CPC in December 2018 and placed it on a Special Watch List.
The document emphasizes that the United States and Uzbekistan cooperate closely on issues of regional stability and security, including combatting terrorism. In April 2019, the U.S. Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance program sponsored training for 13 Ministry of Internal Affairs participants. Uzbekistan also participates in the C5+1 forum with the other countries of Central Asia and the United States, and in May it hosted a workshop on religious tolerance and countering violent extremism sponsored in part by the United States Institute of Peace.
The State Department removed Uzbekistan from the CPC list and placed it on the Special Watch List for the first time in December 2018, and did so again in November 2019.