Written by: Madina Rabbimova and Laylo Qarshiboyeva
Image source: www.depositphotos.com
May 31, 2021



In recent years, Uzbekistan has made significant efforts to strengthen the role and importance of advocates and created the necessary legal framework for their professional activity. However, advocacy institution has not yet become a credible human rights institution. There are a number of factors that hinder the full realization of the rights of advocates and prevent them from providing quality legal assistance.

This blogpost argues that the advocacy institution in Uzbekistan has not yet been formed as an independent institution, and it maps out shortcomings in this area.

Legal basis of advocates’ activity

Over the past period, 2 special statutes and about 90 other regulations have been adopted to regulate advocates’ activity and a number of reforms have been made in this area. The first legal basis for the activity of lawyers is the Law on Advocacy, adopted on December 27, 1996. The adoption of this Law led to the formation of a new Uzbek legal institute. The Law on Guarantees of Advocacy and Social Protection of Advocates, issued on December 25, 1998, also played an important role in regulating this field. This Law establishes important aspects of advocacy institutions, important norms aimed at ensuring the professional integrity and guarantees of lawyers.

Moreover, on May 1, 2008, the First President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov signed a Decree on «On Measures to Further Reform Advocacy Institution in the Republic of Uzbekistan”. On the basis of this Decree, significant changes and reforms were carried out in this field. As well, the Chamber of Advocates of Uzbekistan was established on the basis of the Advocates Association of Uzbekistan.

In addition, On May 12, 2018, President Shavkat Mirziyoyev promulgated a Decree “On Measures to Significantly Increase the Efficiency of Advocacy Institution and Expand the Independence of Advocates”.  On the basis of this document, along with the improvement of the legal framework of advocacy institutions, a number of rules were put into practice in order to expand the rights of lawyers.  In particular, the period of compulsory training in the field of advocacy to obtain a license to practice law has been reduced from six to three months. The period of re-examination for the status of a lawyer has been reduced from one year to six months, as well as expanded their rights to the pre-trial settlement of disputes and conciliation of the parties.


The independence of the legal profession as a whole forms a basis for the rule of law and is an essential guarantee for the promotion and protection of human rights. However, it is difficult to say that the institutional independence of the lawyers is ensured. Lawyers reported to the International Commission of Jurists that, as a result of the reform of the Association of Lawyers of Uzbekistan, the organization was, in their words, “governmentalized”. The Chamber of Lawyers was created based on the bodies and members of the Association, competent to nominate candidates for its President and Deputy President at the Conference of the Chamber of Lawyers, to be appointed by the Ministry of Justice.  In addition, the Ministry of Justice was given the right to terminate the license of the lawyers, while the Chamber of Lawyers does not have such a right. The Chamber of Lawyers clearly lacks independence, since its head is appointed and removed based on the application of the Ministry of Justice.

Another serious problem is the existence of “pocket lawyers”, who pursue the profession for financial benefits only. Lyubov Alexandrovna, Chief Economist of the Department of the Ministry of Finance said that 75 billion soums were allocated from the state budget for criminal cases from 2009 to 2018. However, in the process of examining how these funds are being spent, the unexpected practice has been identified. For example, a lawyer served 162 people a day in Zangiota district on January 2, 2019, which is a too big number for a single day. The term “service” does not mean simply providing legal advice to clients. We are talking about lawyers who provide legal assistance to suspects, accused, and defendants at the expense of the state in criminal cases… Unfortunately, this is one of the sore points of criminal procedure law. Because, these “lawyers” in parentheses, who have no interest in the fate of their clients and do not go beyond signing the paper prepared by the investigator, are destroyers of the social justice system. They create mistrust of the legal profession and stigmatize other lawyers who are honest and dedicated to their profession.

Moreover, the lack of lawyers is also a major issue in Uzbekistan. According to the analysis, as of January 1, 2020, Uzbekistan has a total population of 33.905 million people. At the same time, there are 3919 lawyers who are members of the Chamber of Advocates. Of these, 62 are lawyers under the age of 30, 1,781 are under the age of 50, and 2,076 are over the age of 50. The average population was 8,651 per lawyer. At this point, if we compare these figures with the practice of other foreign countries, we can see a sharp difference. In Italy, for example, there are 265 people per lawyer, in Germany 499, in Turkey 794, in Russia 1,870, and in Kazakhstan 3,932.

The dynamics of change over the last 12 years show that the number of lawyers is declining as the population grows. Also, the majority of lawyers, more than 50 percent, are over 50 years old. Simply put, the legal profession in Uzbekistan is still not attractive enough.

Another serious issue in this field is the treatment of lawyers in court. Lawyers said that they would often receive threats from investigators or even from judges in court that a decision would be adopted to consider disbarment or suspension of the lawyers’ license – the implication being that the Chamber of Lawyers could be counted on to adopt such a decision at the investigator’s or judge’s request. Such threats or statements have been made in particular when a lawyer is very actively defending the client or, for instance, is requesting to meet with a client in detention while such a request is being hampered.

Then why…..

Then one has to ponder upon the background of the above problems. Why profession of lawyers (attorneys) in Uzbekistan became so obsolete and unattractive to the young generation? Why did it lose its fame? And why young students of the law school want so much to become a prosecutor rather than a lawyer?

Overviewing past research materials, interviews with some lawyers, and conducting so-called a socio-legal survey among the students of Tashkent State Law University, authors arrived at these reasons for the crisis:

First, lack of institutional independence of the legal profession, inequality of judges, prosecutors, investigators in criminal proceedings;

Second, insufficient number of lawyers in relation to the population;

Third, the existence of mistrust in the activities of lawyers as a result of the irresponsibility of some lawyers towards their profession;

Fourth, existence of artificial barriers in the legislation in relation to the advocacy.

A number of problems in the field of advocacy require a new stage in the development of the legal profession in Uzbekistan.


To sum up, lawyers, along with judges and prosecutors, are one of the pillars on which protection of the rule of law and human rights rests through the justice system. If the justice system is to be effective, then judges, lawyers, and prosecutors must each be free to carry out their professional duties independently, without interference from executive bodies, and they must be protected, in law and in practice from attack or harassment as they carry out their professional functions.  Therefore, it is necessary to ensure institutional independence of the legal profession, raise the status of lawyers in society and equate them with judges, prosecutors, investigators in court proceedings. This will create an effective mechanism for the protection of the rights and freedoms and legal interests of the individual, as well as increase the legal culture of society.

Cite as: Madina Rabbimova and Laylo Qarshiboyeva, “Crisis of advocacy institution in Uzbekistan: the issues and the reasons”, Uzbekistan Law Blog, 31.05.2021