What happens when citizens of corrupt states start acting like laws have meaning? For Al Jazeera, I wrote about the Uzbek legal website Adolat.net, which educates Uzbek citizens on their legal rights:
Adolat’s founders are adamant that they are not a opposition group and that they have no interest in upending the existing constitutional system – in fact, they have featured President Karimov’s statements on the importance of the law on their website. Despite its apolitical agenda, Adolat has been banned. In Uzbekistan, showing people how to follow the law constitutes an act of radical subversion.
It is no mystery why Uzbeks are forbidden to read Adolat. The website asks Uzbek citizens to buy into a delusion: that they live in a just society where laws are something other than words on a piece of paper. By pretending that laws have meaning, they implore the government to give them meaning – a step which the Karimov regime seems unwilling to take. Adolat’s legal experts encourage discussion of civic issues and answer questions submitted by readers. (Sample query: “Where can I complain about abuse by the police?”) A lawyer who works for Adolat told me that the goal is not to “give fish” but to teach Uzbeks to “fish for themselves”. He believes a regular reader of the site should by now be well-versed in writing an official complaint.
The internet is often derided as a medium of inherent inaccuracy, the phrase “But I read it on the internet!” a punch line. But for Adolat, the internet serves as a way to turn Uzbekistan’s lip-service law into something sincere.
Read the full article here.