July 1, 2019
Today Lawyers for Lawyers delivered an oral statement during the 126th session of the Human Rights Committee for the review of Tajikistan’s compliance with it’s international human rights obligations. In July 2018, Lawyers for Lawyers submitted a submission for the List of Issues for this review, to inform the Committee about the situation of lawyers in Tadzjikistan.
Lawyers for Lawyers highlighted the failure of the authorities of the Republic of Tajikistan to ensure that all persons have effective and equal access to legal services provided by an independent legal profession.
Firstly, The legal profession lacks institutional independence. The admission to and the continued practice within the legal profession is controlled by the executive branch. The 2015 Law “On Advokatura and Advocates’ Activities” requires all lawyers to renew their accreditation and go through a new examination process, which must be redone every five years. Since the reform, the number of licensed lawyers in Tajikistan has fallen precipitously. This seems detrimental to access to justice. The process also carries the risk of misuse by authorities seeking to exclude or disbar lawyers.
Secondly, professional rights and privileges of lawyers who are still able to practice law are violated. Lawyers are repeatedly denied access to clients in detention and to appropriate information. Lawyer-client confidentiality and lawyers’ rights to freedom of expression and association are not respected. Furthermore, lawyers involved in sensitive cases are identified with their clients or their clients’ causes. These lawyers have been subjected to intimidation, harassment as well as arbitrary arrests, prosecutions and convictions. Some of them are now in prison after closed, unfair trials, or were forced to flee the country due to fears of reprisal. An emblematic case is the prosecution of Buzurgmehr Yorov, who is serving a combined sentence of 28 years in prison. As a result of these problems, lawyers are unable to provide effective legal representation.