May 16, 2017
Tajik border guards on the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border on May 14, 2017, prevented a prominent human rights lawyer from leaving the country, Human Rights Watch and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee said today. Tajik authorities should immediately rescind the ban on Fayzinisso Vohidova and immediately and unconditionally release three other human rights lawyers imprisoned or detained on politically motivated charges.
Border guards with the State Committee on State Security at the Auchi-Kalyacha border post stopped Vohidova as she sought to travel to Kyrgyzstan. They detained her for eight hours, stating there was a “defect” in her passport and that she “had no right to leave Tajikistan.” In the weeks preceding her stop, Tajik security services interrogated Vohidova several times. She had made critical remarks about the government’s imprisonment of Buzurgmehr Yorov, a human rights lawyer who was sentenced to 25 years following a prosecution and trial that appeared politically motivated.
“Tajik authorities are blatantly violating Vohidova’s right to freedom of movement,” said Steve Swerdlow, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “This appears to be part of a pattern to keep critical voices, including Tajikistan’s independent lawyers, from spreading information about the ongoing and severe political crackdown in the country.”
Vohidova, a Khujand-based lawyer known for her human rights and criminal defense work, has long been the target of government harassment and intimidation for taking on politically sensitive cases.