Tag Archives: Tajikistan

Tajikistan: Autonomous Region Protesters Denied Fair Trials

23/08/22

Dozens of residents of an autonomous region in Tajikistan detained since May 2022 protests are facing closed, unfair trials, Human Rights Watch said today. Defendants are being tried on serious charges often without access to lawyers or the evidence against them in violation of their due process rights.

The authorities have arrested and detained more than 200 people in Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakshan autonomous region (GBAO), including at least 90 activists, on charges related to the protests and ensuing clashes. The residents of the isolated mountainous region are Pamiri, a distinct ethnic and religious minority, whom the government has long discriminated against.

“Dozens of activists and other members of the Pamiri minority in the Gorno-Badakshan autonomous region are facing unfair trials behind closed doors without access to lawyers,” said Syinat Sultanalieva, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “Without lawyers, defendants can’t get a fair trial and are at greater risk of being tortured or otherwise mistreated.”

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Tajikistan acceded to in 1999, provides that everyone charged with a criminal offense is entitled to a fair and public hearing, has access to counsel and adequate time to prepare a defense, and is able to examine the evidence against them.

The region has only seven lawyers who are officially registered as members of the GBAO Bar Association to cover the population of 250,000. And lawyers from other regions of the country report being warned against taking up the cases of those arrested, while others fear retaliation. Several of those charged are reported to have been forcibly disappeared from Russia and taken to the region to face trial.

[…]

https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/08/23/tajikistan-autonomous-region-protesters-denied-fair-trials

https://www.rferl.org/a/tajikistan-unfair-trials-gorno-badakhshan-protesters/32000976.html

https://reliefweb.int/report/tajikistan/tajikistan-autonomous-region-protesters-denied-fair-trials

https://akipress.com/news:676534

https://www.timesca.com/index.php/news/25194-tajikistan-rights-watchdog-says-protesters-in-gorno-badakhshan-region-denied-fair-trials

https://www.rferl.org/a/majlis-podcast-tajik-government-crackdown-opposition/31997927.html

Tajikistan: Arbitrary detention of lawyers Manuchehr Kholiknazarov, Faromuz Irgashov and Khursand Mamadshoev

15/06/22

[…]

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Tajikistan.

Description of the situation

The Observatory has been informed about the arbitrary detention of lawyer Manuchehr Kholiknazarov, who leads the Pamir Lawyers Association, a member organisation of the Civil Society Coalition against Torture and Impunity in Tajikistan, and a member of the civil society human rights initiative Commission 44’ Together with Kholiknazarov, other members of Commission 44, including lawyer Faromuz Irgashov and Khursand Mamadshoev were also detained. Mr. Mamadshoev is the brother of human rights defender, journalist, and representative of the Pamiri minority Ulfathonim Mamadshoeva, arbitrarily detained since May 18, 2022. Commission 44 is a group of lawyers, human rights defenders and activists established in Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous (GBAO) region to investigate police brutality that took place in the region in November 2021 and led to several civilians killed and dozens injured.

On May 28, 2022, Manuchehr Kholiknazarov, Faromuz Irgashov and Khursand Mamadshoev were summoned by the local Prosecutor’s Office in the city of Khorog and interrogated about “receiving money from the banned National Alliance of Tajikistan”. They were subsequently placed in a pre-trial detention centre under the Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. On June 6, they were taken from Khorog to Dushanbe, and placed in the detention center of Tajikistan’s State Committee of National Security, where they remained detained at the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal.

Manuchehr Kholiknazarov, Faromuz Irgashov and Khursand Mamadshoev are charged under Article 187, part 2 , of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Tajikistan: “participation in a criminal association”. If convicted and sentenced, they face up to 12 years of imprisonment.

At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Tajik authorities had not officially commented on the detention of Manuchehr Kholiknazarov, Faromuz Irgashov and Khursand Mamadshoev. It is also unknown whether the three human rights defenders have access to legal assistance.

The Observatory recalls that since May 14, 2022, the GBAO region has been in a state of high tension as around a thousand protesters gathered in Khorog and announced that they would start an indefinite protest from May 16, 2022, unless the regional leader Alisher Mirzonabot resigned and an effective investigation was conducted into the killing of Gulbidin Ziyobekov by police in November 2021. On May 16, 2022, several hundred people gathered in Khorog city centre, and military and special forces reportedly violently dispersed the protest, resulting in at least one death and several injuries. The Internet connection in the entire GBAO region has been cut off since May 16. On May 17 and 18, 2022, security forces continued attacks on civilians, including those who were acting peacefully, reportedly using tear gas grenades and live munition against protesters. On May 18, 2022, the Interior Ministry announced the start of an “anti-terrorist operation” in Badakhshan. Independent journalists who cover the ongoing anti-government protests and the violence against the demonstrators are subjected to threats and attacks, and prominent human rights defenders are criminalised and arbitrarily detained on trumped-up charges. At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, it is known that at least 40 persons have been killed and hundreds detained amid the crackdown on protesters.

On May, 22, 2022, the UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues expressed concern over the impact the use of counter-terrorism operations to quell protests could have in creating more violence in GBAO region, and called on the authorities of Tajikistan to immediately implement prevention measures that meet international human rights standards.

The Observatory strongly condemns the arbitrary detention of Manuchehr Kholiknazarov, Faromuz Irgashov and Khursand Mamadshoev and urges the authorities in Tajikistan to immediately and unconditionally release them and to put an end to the judicial harassment against them. The Observatory calls on the authorities to put an immediate end to the violence and excessive and unlawful use of force against peaceful protesters and human rights defenders in Tajikistan.

[…]

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/tajikistan-arbitrary-detention-of-lawyers-manuchehr-kholiknazarov

Tajikistan: Human Rights Lawyer Abdulmachid Rizoyev At Risk Of Torture 

29/11/21

Tajikistan: Rights lawyer Abdulmajid Rizoev sentenced to 5 years and 6  months imprisonment for posts on Facebook | IAPL Monitoring Committee on  Attacks on Lawyers

Human rights lawyer Abdulmachid Rizoyev, imprisoned since June 2021 for posting humorous comments on Facebook, has not been able to see any of his lawyers since 11 August 2021 and since 4 September his family has not been permitted to visit him. International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) is concerned that the lack of contact with the outside world significantly increases the risk that he will be subjected to torture or other forms of ill-treatment. Abdulmachid Rizoyev has been imprisoned to punish him for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and he should be released immediately and unconditionally.

On 14 June 2021, Shokhmansur District Court of Dushanbe sentenced Rizoyev to five and a half years’ imprisonment in a high security prison after finding him guilty of “public calls to carry out extremist activity through the media or the internet” (Article 307 of the Criminal Code). In July, one of Rizoyev’s lawyers filed a complaint with the Cassation Instance of Dushanbe City Court urging the court to annul the verdict and close the case against the human rights lawyer, but the court did not satisfy the complaint.  In September 2021, his term was reduced to three years’ imprisonment under an amnesty law marking the 30th anniversary of Tajikistan’s independence.

The charges against Abdulmachid Rizoyev were based on a number of posts he had made on Facebook, which the prosecutor claimed were “hidden calls for extremism”, although they did not feature any kind of reference to violence. For example, the prosecutor found “hidden extremist” content, in one post where Rizoyev wrote that “A wise government fights the roots of protests, an ignorant government fights the protesters.” The following post was also deemed to represent a call for extremism: “We, Tajikistanis, come in the third category here: 1) The people have to live well. 2) The people have to live. 3) The people have to.”[i]

In court, Rizoyev maintained his innocence and stated that he had never held or promoted extremist views. IPHR is concerned that the criminal case was fabricated to punish him for his professional work defending the rights of Dushanbe residents whose homes were due to be demolished to make way for new construction projects. Previously he also provided legal assistance to military conscripts and soldiers subjected to abuse.

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Tajikistan: Abdulmajid Rizoev to spend six months in solitary confinement

24/11/21

crop_abdulmajid_rizoev.jpg

In November 2021, the family and lawyers of human rights defender Abdulmajid Rizoev were informed that he is being held in solitary confinement in Khujand in northern Tajikistan. On 11 August 2021, Dushanbe City Court rejected the cassation appeal to review the case of Abdulmajid Rizoev, and he was then transferred to the high-security prison in Khujand and placed in solitary confinement, where he is expected to serve the sentence handed down to him on 14 June 2021 in relation to posts he published on his Facebook page. According to Abdulmajid Rizoev’s lawyers, the human rights defender will remain in solitary confinement until at least until March.

On 11 August 2021, the Dushanbe City Court rejected the cassation appeal to review Abdulmajid Rizoev’s case, which the human rights defender’s lawyer applied for on 16 July 2021. On 14 June 2021, human rights defender Abdulmajid Rizoev was sentenced to 5 years and 6 months’ imprisonment for “public calls for performance of an extremist activity made using the mass media or the Internet” under Part 2, Article 307.1 of the Criminal Code of Tajikistan. The human rights defender has been detained in centre No.1 in Dushanbe since his arrest on 18 November 2020.

Abdulmajid Rizoev is a human rights defender and a lawyer, and was formerly a member of the Association of Young Lawyers “Amparo”, which was forcibly dissolved in 2012. As part of his human rights work, Abdulmajid Rizoev has been monitoring human rights violations occurring within the Tajikistan military during conscription and military service, and providing legal consultation to conscripts and soldiers, including those who have been subjected to physical and psychological abuse as new recruits in the army. In recent years, he has also been actively involved in defending the rights of residents in Dushanbe whose homes are to be demolished due to new construction projects underway. The defender provides the residents with legal representation, lodges complaints on their behalf and informs them of their rights to compensation and resettlement.

[…]

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/abdulmajid-rizoev-spend-six-months-solitary-confinement

https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/10/27/universal-periodic-review-update-tajikistan

(ESPANOL)

The Tajik Government’s Style Of Justice And Mercy

23/10/21

Buzurgmehr Yorov (file photo)

International rights watchdogs have long charged that the judiciary system in Tajikistan is often used to punish perceived enemies of the government.

There are, indeed, many cases in recent years to support those claims. And even when moved to gestures of mercy, the Tajik courts and state officials seem callous in their actions.

The following are some of the most egregious recent cases.

The Lawyer

Buzurgmehr Yorov is a Tajik attorney who was detained in late September 2015 and shortly thereafter sentenced to 28 years in prison.

In honor of Tajikistan marking 30 years of independence this year, an amnesty has been granted to some prisoners. Yorov had four years removed from his long sentence.

The 50-year-old attorney had a reputation for defending people who had little, if any, chance of proving their innocence in Tajik courts.

He defended members of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), a group that had been in a power-sharing agreement with President Emomali Rahmon’s government and was later seen by Rahmon as an impediment to his exerting greater control over the country.

Yorov also defended fellow lawyer Fakhriddin Zokirov, who was the attorney of businessman Zayd Saidov.

Saidov founded a new political party — Tajikistan Now — in April 2013 and was convicted in December that same year on charges of fraud, polygamy, and statutory rape, charges seen as politically motivated.

Zokirov was arrested in March 2014 on forgery charges and was held for eight months before he received an amnesty.

Saidov’s second lawyer, Shuhrat Kudratov, was sentenced to nine years in prison on charges of fraud and bribery. His term was shortened after two rounds of amnesties.

[…]

https://www.rferl.org/a/tajikistan-justice-system-prisoners-qishloq/31525766.html

https://www.rferl.org/a/tajikistan-yorov-sentence-shortened/31516708.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buzurgmehr_Yorov

https://www.avocatparis.org/actualites/tadjikistan-lavocat-defenseur-des-droits-de-lhomme-buzurgmehr-yorov-emprisonne (FRANCAIS)

Tajikistan: Court rejects cassation appeal for Abdulmajid Rizoev

13/08/21

crop_abdulmajid_rizoev.jpg

On 11 August 2021, the Dushanbe City Court rejected the cassation appeal to review Abdulmajid Rizoev’s case, which the human rights defender’s lawyer applied for on 16 July 2021. On 14 June 2021, human rights defender Abdulmajid Rizoev was sentenced to 5 years and 6 months’ imprisonment for “public calls for performance of an extremist activity made using the mass media or the Internet” under Part 2, Article 307.1 of the Criminal Code of Tajikistan. The human rights defender has been detained in centre No.1 in Dushanbe since his arrest on 18 November 2020.

On 14 June 2021, the Shokhmansur District Court of Dushanbe sentenced human rights defender Abdulmajid Rizoev to 5 years and 6 months’ imprisonment for “public calls for performance of an extremist activity made using the mass media or the Internet” under Part 2, Article 307.1 of the Criminal Code of Tajikistan.

Human rights defender Abdulmajid Rizoev is currently facing trial on accusations of “public calls for performance of an extremist activity made using the mass media or the Internet” in relation to his work providing legal defense for residents in Dushanbe who have been evicted from their homes due to a new construction project taking place in the city. If convicted, the human rights defender could face up to 5 years’ imprisonment. Abdulmajid Rizoev is currently being held at the detention centre #1 in Dushanbe.

Abdulmajid Rizoev is a human rights defender and a lawyer, and was formerly a member of the Association of Young Lawyers “Amparo”, which was forcibly dissolved in 2012. As part of his human rights work, Abdulmajid Rizoev has been monitoring human rights violations occurring within the Tajikistan military during conscription and military service, and providing legal consultation to conscripts and soldiers, including those who have been subjected to physical and psychological abuse as new recruits in the army. In recent years, he has also been actively involved in defending the rights of residents in Dushanbe whose homes are to be demolished due to new construction projects underway. The defender provides the residents with legal representation, lodges complaints on their behalf and informs them of their rights to compensation and resettlement.

[…]

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/court-rejects-cassation-appeal-abdulmajid-rizoev

Call For Tajikistan To Release Human Rights Lawyer Ahead Of 50th Birthday Behind Bars

08/07/21

Buzurgmehr Yorov, a Tajikistani human rights lawyer (Photo supplied)

On 9 July 2021, Buzurgmehr Yorov, a Tajikistani human rights lawyer and outspoken critic of the government, will mark his 50th birthday behind bars. Yorov was wrongfully imprisoned in September 2015 and sentenced to 22 years on trumped-up charges. Ahead of this milestone birthday, human rights organisations CIVICUS and the International Partnership of Human Rights (IPHR) call for his immediate and unconditional release.

In 2015, Buzurgmehr was arrested after representing members and leaders of the banned opposition party, the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRTP). Following his arrest, he was interrogated for ten hours and allegedly beaten. He was then detained for eight months before his trial began – during this time he was physically abused and held in solitary confinement on many occasions.  

In a series of closed and unfair trials held between October 2016 and August 2017, the human rights lawyer was convicted on various charges, including overthrowing the government, inciting unrest, and insulting the President and government officials. Although his sentence was reduced by six years in November 2019 to mark the 25th anniversary of Tajikistan’s constitution, he is currently being held in the Strict Regime Prison Colony No.1 in Dushanbe.

In May 2019, the UN Human Rights Council concluded that Buzurgmehr’s arbitrary detention is against international law, and it called on the Tajikistan authorities to release him immediately. 

[…]

https://www.eurasiareview.com/08072021-call-for-tajikistan-to-release-human-rights-lawyer-ahead-of-50th-birthday-behind-bars/

https://www.civicus.org/index.php/media-resources/media-releases/5167-tajikistan-release-human-rights-lawyer-ahead-of-50th-birthday-behind-bars

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buzurgmehr_Yorov

Tajikistan: Tajik Rights Lawyer Says Security Case Opened Against Him In Absentia

25/06/21

Bakhtovar Jumaev (file photo)

Bakhtovar Jumaev, a Moscow-based Tajik lawyer, says officials in Tajikistan have opened a case against him for inciting “extremist activity.”

Jumaev told RFE/RL on June 25 that the Panjakent Organized Crime Department summoned his father a day earlier to inform him that they had opened the proceedings.

“I told him that my son was neither an extremist nor a terrorist, and that the accusations against him were slanderous,” Jumaev’s father said.

The Panjakent police department did not respond to calls from RFE/RL for comment.

Jumaev said earlier this month that officials told his family they should demand his return to Tajikistan.

After the warning, Jumaev left Russia for a third country. Without disclosing details, Jumaev said he had received information that Russian officials were planning to detain and deport him to Tajikistan.

Several Tajik activists in Russia say their relatives in Tajikistan are being targeted by the government in an effort to silence and threaten its critics abroad.

At least 15 Tajik activists have disappeared in Russia since 2015, human rights activists say. 

[…]

https://www.rferl.org/a/tajikistan-rights-lawyer-extremist/31325900.html

https://www.rferl.org/a/tajikistan-critics-missing-russia-disappearances/31297966.html

Tajikistan: Rights lawyer Abdulmajid Rizoev sentenced to 5 years and 6 months imprisonment for posts on Facebook

18/06/21

crop_abdulmajid_rizoev.jpg

On 14 June 2021, the Shokhmansur District Court of Dushanbe sentenced human rights defender Abdulmajid Rizoev to 5 years and 6 months’ imprisonment for “public calls for performance of an extremist activity made using the mass media or the Internet” under Part 2, Article 307.1 of the Criminal Code of Tajikistan. The charges are based on some of his Facebook posts from 2019 and 2020, which the Prosecutor identified as “hidden calls for extremism.” Two posts have been cited in particular, two of which were made in March 2020.

Abdulmajid Rizoev claimed in one post that of the people he interviewed following the parliamentary elections, 25% took part in the elections and 75% did not. In the other post, the human rights defender mocked a plaque outside a polling station, which stated that “participation in the elections is a sign of political intelligence”. Reference was also made to another post and repost from April 2019, in which the human rights defender claimed that the Tajik people are unduly placed in conditions of obligations to the authorities. People who liked Abdulmajid Rizoev’s posts were interrogated at the District Court of Dushanbe on 14 June 2021.

Abdulmajid Rizoev’s lawyers challenged the conclusion of the analysis of the Facebook posts conducted by a special commission, demanding that the court does not take into account this conclusion and to exclude it from the criminal case materials.

Abdulmajid Rizoev is a human rights defender and a lawyer, and was formerly a member of the Association of Young Lawyers “Amparo”, which was forcibly dissolved in 2012. As part of his human rights work, Abdulmajid Rizoev has been monitoring human rights violations occurring within the Tajikistan military during conscription and military service, and providing legal consultation to conscripts and soldiers, including those who have been subjected to physical and psychological abuse as new recruits in the army. In recent years, he has also been actively involved in defending the rights of residents in Dushanbe whose homes are to be demolished due to new construction projects underway. The defender provides the residents with legal representation, lodges complaints on their behalf and informs them of their rights to compensation and resettlement.

[…]

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/abdulmajid-rizoev-sentenced-5-years-and-6-months-imprisonment-posts-facebook

(ESPANOL)
(ITALIANO)

Tajikistan: Lawyer Gets Jail Term After Posting About Injustice In The Tajik Justice System

21/01/21

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One of the most hazardous jobs in Tajikistan is being a lawyer — at least the type of lawyer who believes in genuine justice.

Buzurgmehr Yorov and Nuriddin Makhkamov are two examples.

Yorov suddenly faced criminal charges after daring to defend Tajik opposition figures in court and Makhkamov faced similar charges after trying to defend Yorov.

Both were convicted of fraud, inciting national, racial, local, or religious hostility, and extremism, despite the prosecutors’ failure to present any evidence to support the charges. Yorov was sentenced in 2016 to 23 years in prison, with five additional years being added at a later trial, while Makhkamov was sentenced that same year to 21 years in prison.

Fast forward five years and you have Saidnuriddin Shamsiddinov, a 41-year-old attorney and former bailiff who was just sentenced to 8 1/2 years in prison after a Vakhsh court found him guilty of seven crimes, among them the illegal sale of land, fraud, and purposefully spreading false information.

Shamsiddinov’s relatives reject the charges and verdict and say the real reason for Shamsiddinov’s imprisonment was his criticism about prosecutors and judges in posts on social networks.

RFE/RL’s Tajik Service, known locally as Ozodi, spoke with Shamsiddinov’s brother, Kamariddin, who said Saidnuriddin posted under the name Saidi Sadr and regularly denounced judges and prosecutors.

[…]

https://www.rferl.org/a/qishloq-ovozi-tajik-justice-system-lawyer-prison-criticism/31062112.html

https://thediplomat.com/2020/06/tajikistans-most-fearless-lawyer-remains-behind-bars/

https://www.rferl.org/a/tajik-lawyer-arrested-after-announcing-he-would-run-for-president/30821651.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buzurgmehr_Yorov