July 5, 2017
The Law Society of Upper Canada expresses grave concern about the travel ban against lawyer Fayzinisso Vohidova in Tajikistan.
Fayzinisso Vohidova is a Khujand-based lawyer known for her human rights and criminal defence work in politically sensitive cases. As a result of her professional activities, she has long been the target of government harassment. Since July 2015, she has endured surveillance and intimidation. In early 2016, she received credible information that law enforcement officials had initiated a criminal investigation against her.
More recently, on May 14, 2017, border guards with the State Committee on State Security prevented Fayzinisso Vohidova from traveling to Kyrgyzstan. They detained her for eight hours, stating that there was a “defect” in her passport and that she “had no right to leave Tajikistan”. Eventually, the border guards conceded that Fayzinisso Vohidova had been placed on a list of individuals banned from leaving the country. Arbitrary bans on travel violate article 12(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees every individual the right to leave any country, including his or her own. Tajikistan became a party to the ICCPR in 1999.
Reports further indicate that in the weeks that preceded the above-mentioned incident, Fayzinisso Vohidova had been interrogated multiple times by Tajik security services. Human rights organizations believe that these latest acts of harassment against Fayzinisso Vohidova are related to the critical remarks she made about the imprisonment of two Tajik human rights lawyers, Buzurgmehr Yorov and Nuriddin Makhkamov. In April 2017, she had publicly appealed to President Emomali Rahmon through social media, criticizing the government’s imprisonment of Yorov and Makhkamov, both of whom were convicted and sentenced in October 2016 following a prosecution and trial that appeared to be politically motivated. The Law Society intervened on behalf of Buzurgmehr Yorov in February 2016 and January 2017, and on behalf of Nuriddin Makhkamov in January 2017.