January 30, 2017
The Law Society of Upper Canada* expresses grave concern about the convictions of lawyers Buzurgmehr Yorov and Nuriddin Makhkamov in Tajikistan.
It has come to our attention that on October 6, 2016, prominent human rights lawyers Buzurgmehr Yorov and Nuriddin Makhkamov were convicted and sentenced to 21 and 23 years in prison, respectively, on charges of fraud, swindling, “arousing national, racial, local or religious hostility” and extremism. They have also been banned from practising law for five years following the completion of their prison sentences.
Human rights organizations believe that both lawyers’ arrests and subsequent convictions are tied to their representation of members of the Islamist Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (“IRPT”). The IRPT was banned by the government of Tajikistan in September 2015 and later declared a terrorist organization.
According to reports, Buzurgmehr Yorov was arrested on September 29, 2015, while Nuriddin Makhkamov was arrested shortly thereafter on October 22, 2015. It has been reported that during his pre-trial detention, Nuriddin Makhkamov was placed in solitary confinement for three days when he went on a hunger strike to protest his arbitrary detention.
Reports have further indicated that authorities systematically interfered with Buzurgmehr Yorov and Nuriddin Makhkamov’s right to counsel and severely restricted public access to the trials. Moreover, it is alleged that the prosecution presented no credible evidence against either lawyer.
The Law Society of Upper Canada urges the government of Tajikistan to comply with Tajikistan’s obligations under international human rights laws, including the United Nations’ Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.