Uzbek President Signs Legislation Softening Punishment For Some Crimes

State-run media in Uzbekistan say President Shavkat Mirziyaev has signed a law that softens punishment for some crimes and cuts the length of time that suspects can be held before charge or trial.

Reports on March 30 said that under legislative amendments signed the previous day, mandatory community service will replace imprisonment as punishment for some crimes.

In addition, the maximum length of preliminary detention by police is shortened from 72 hours to 48 hours, and the maximum length of pretrial incarceration is cut from 12 months to seven months.

The amendments also introduce the law internationally known as habeas corpus, which allows an individual to report an unlawful detention or incarceration before a court.

Media reports cite lawmakers in the Central Asian nation as saying the changes in the Criminal Code and several other legal documents are aimed to improve transparency of the judicial system and rights and freedoms of citizens.

Mirziyaev is being watched for signs of major changes in the tightly controlled country, which the late President Islam Karimov ruled with an iron fist for more than 25 years.

Mirziyaev became acting president after Karimov's death was announced in September, and was elected in December.