Panji Makhmanazarov –"Lawyer of the Year-2022" winner in the nomination of “Professional Excellence”
  1. Why do you think you were selected as a winner?

I see many problems with the legal system right now. For example, when someone is accused, investigative processes are conducted with the approach that the person is already guilty. It means you are guilty until proven innocent. I believe this is the wrong approach. A person is innocent until proven guilty. This is very biased in favor of the prosecution, creates a great challenge for lawyers, and disturbs the balance of justice in the defense of a person. 

One of the most important achievements of my career is 21 acquittals. One thing I am particularly proud of is a case in Surkhandarya, where a person under my protection rented land for use. They planted trees there to conserve water on the ground. According to the lease, anything created or built on the land was considered their property. But after they cut down the trees, the environmental committee filed charges against them, and the case got complicated, and went all the way to the Supreme Court. Two years later, I was able to obtain an acquittal for my client.


  1. Why did you choose to become a lawyer?

I worked in certain positions in the prosecutor's office and I was also an investigator, but I see myself as a lawyer. Helping my client, restoring their dignity, and even giving them back their life is the most honorable thing for me. That is why I chose this profession.


  1. What is the most challenging part of your job?

Personally, the hardest things for me are when lawyers make reasonable motions at trial and the motions are denied without any intelligible or legal justification. For example, we present certain evidence, ask for additional medical examination or file a motion, but the court rejects it without explanation. It’s disappointing, of course. This is one of the reasons why the adversarial system does not work in Uzbekistan. We are not equal to the prosecution. Courts and investigative bodies are not independent as defined by law. True, the court should take into account the interests of the state, society, and the justice system, but the interests of ordinary people should not be left out. Unfortunately, this issue is now one of the major problems.

Another issue that I find difficult as a lawyer is the sometimes-unreasonable procedural deadlines. Courts are very sensitive to procedural deadlines, as a result of which the accused can remain in prison for a long time. In my opinion, more attention should be paid to verifying evidence, taking statements from witnesses, and so on, as these procedures help the judicial process and reaching the verdict. But instead, we have unreasonable deadlines imposed on existing procedures. As a result, time is wasted. With the recent decision of the President to improve the judicial system, some of these problems have been resolved.


  1. How do you think your job impacts society?

I see my contribution to society as helping my clients achieve justice. With my help, when people under my protection return to their families, their confidence in the system increases.


  1. What would you do to make the lawyer’s profession more attractive for young people?

I think we can do this by promoting the hard work that lawyers do, highlighting our achievements as advocates, and making the public more aware of it. We need to raise the profile of the legal profession.

Donors
International Narcotics & Law Enforcement Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Department Of State