Uzbek Government Considers Ending Exit Visa System

Wendy Barlow's picture

On April 8, 2018, Eurasianet posted an interesting article about a potentially significant change in Uzbekistan's system of exit visas [link].1

On August 7, 2017, the Uzbek government published online for public discussion a proposed rule for scrapping exit visas. Eurasianet reports that the rule would allow Uzbek citizens to be issued foreign travel passports beginning on January 1, 2019, instead of having to apply for an exit authorization sticker, commonly known as an exit visa, to depart the country. Eurasianet provided the link to the proposed rule: [PDF version].

Uzbekistan's exit visa system, a legacy of the Soviet Union, has been criticized by civil rights activists both inside Uzbekistan and outside the country for years. It allows the Uzbek government to prevent its nationals from leaving the country. Eurasianet explains that the practice has been commonly deployed against Uzbek dissidents and independent journalists.

Eurasianet states that there has been heavy pressure on Uzbek President Shavkat Mirziyoyev to end the country's exit visa system. Mirziyoyev became President of Uzbekistan in December 2016, shortly after the death of Islam Karimov, who had ruled the country since the waning days of the Soviet Union. In a previous article published on Eurasianet in July 2018 [link], two scholars argued that while President Mirziyoyev has taken small steps to gradually liberalize certain sectors of Uzbekistan, the country “remains highly authoritarian.”2

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  1. Eurasianet. “Uzbekistan proposes scrapping exit visas.” Aug. 8, 2018. https://eurasianet.org/s/uzbekistan-draft-rules-to-scrap-exit-visas-go-online
  2. Williamson, Hugh and Steve Swerdlow. “Perspectives: Testing the realities of Uzbekistan's reforms.” Jul. 9, 2018. https://eurasianet.org/s/perspectives-testing-the-realities-of-uzbekistans-reforms
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Uzbek Government Considers Ending Exit Visa System