Tag Archives: Tajikistan

The Systematic Repression of Lawyers in Central Asia and Eastern Europe

September 12, 2018

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OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2018
Warsaw, Poland
September 12, 2018
Working Session 4

The Systematic Repression of Lawyers in Central Asia and Eastern Europe

Freedom House is gravely concerned by an apparent systematic crackdown on the legal profession by a number of OSCE participating States. Since 2017, restrictive legislative changes and punitive measures targeting individual lawyers were especially egregious in Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, and Crimea. The intense persecution of the legal profession undermines individuals’ essential right of equal access to justice, especially those who openly call for government accountability, such as human rights defenders, journalists, social and political activists. Often, legal action is the only available recourse for individuals and associations to seek redress for violations of their fundamental rights and freedoms.

Due to governments’ threats both to lawyers and their would-be clients, the number of lawyers able to take on human rights cases is dwindling. Without a strong, independent judiciary and lawyers free from harassment, however, governments cannot claim to be fulling their obligations to protect the fundamental human rights of their citizens. Attacking the legal profession appears to be the final step in dismantling a system in which citizens can find recourse against unjust treatment by their own governments within the existing legal framework.

In Azerbaijan, the national parliament amended the ‘Code of Civil and Administrative Procedure’ and the ‘Bar Act’ in October 2017 to state that only members of the Azerbaijan Collegium of Advocates can represent clients in court, substantially cutting the proportion of lawyers to the population to one of the lowest rates in the region.[1]Furthermore, authorities summarily disbar prominent human rights lawyers and deny accreditation to junior advocates. Lawyers including Khalid Baghirov, Aslan Ismayilov, Alaif Hasanov, Elchin Namazov, Yalchin Imanov, Farhad Mehdiyev, Muzaffar Bakhshaliyev, Annaghi Hajibeyli, Aliabbas Rustomov, and Intigam Aliyev have all had their bar membership suspended or revoked shortly after raising human rights concerns on behalf of clients or criticizing the government.[2] Junior lawyers are unable to join the Collegium of Advocates due to its bias against lawyers connected to human rights cases. Samed Rahimli, known for taking on political contentious cases, describes his interviewers from the Collegium of Advocates as being openly hostile towards him and accusing him of trying to destroy the collegium. This systematic persecution of human rights lawyers has left the country with only six practicing human rights lawyers, according to Intigam Aliyev, a human rights lawyer previously jailed for his work.[3]

https://freedomhouse.org/article/systematic-repression-lawyers-central-asia-and-eastern-europe

https://freedomhouse.org/

https://www.ibanet.org/Human_Rights_Institute/Work_by_regions/Europe/Tajikistan-film.aspx

https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/Areas/Azerbaijan/Azerbaijan-journalists-and-human-rights-activists-left-defenceless-190307

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Poland/Tajikistan/Azerbaijan/Kazakhstan/ Russia/Belarus: Next target: legal profession, HDIM side event, Warsaw

September 10, 2018

The legal profession plays a crucial role in ensuring access to justice for all, transparency and accountability of the state, Rule of law and the respect for human rights.

 

Yet, instead of being perceived as a vital player to the justice sector, today lawyers are often targeted by the governments in many OSCE countries for seeking truth and justice. As a result, lawyers often face high risks of persecution, harassment as well as severe sanctions for doing their job.

This side-event aims to specifically discuss the situation of lawyers in Belarus, Russia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan. The discussion will extend to consider the latest developments related to the rights of lawyers and their independence in the respective countries, and what impact this has on the overall rule of law and human rights situation.

This side event will take place on 12 September 2018, from 13.00 -15.00 at Hotel Bristol, Warsaw

Moderator: Jurate Guzeviciute, Programme Lawyer, International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute

Presentations and Discussions:

Independence of the legal profession and harassment of lawyers in Eastern Europe and Central Asia:

https://www.icj.org/next-target-legal-profession-hdim-side-event-warsaw/

Tajikistan: Prominent rights lawyer walks free in Tajikistan

August 24, 2018

Image result for Shukhrat Kudratov

Tajikistan on Friday freed a prominent human rights lawyer as Western governments and rights groups stepped up pressure on the authoritarian Central Asian country.

Shukhrat Kudratov, a renowned rights lawyer involved in defending Tajikistan’s battered opposition was released early on Friday after spending nearly four years behind bars on embezzlement charges in this landlocked former Soviet republic.

In 2015, he was sentenced to nine years in prison although it was later shortened to three years and eight months.

Kudratov’s supporters insisted his real offence was representing a wealthy former government official Zaid Saidov, who had branched out politically by attempting to form his own party in 2013.

Saidov’s arrest heralded the beginning of a renewed crackdown in Tajikistan, where 65-year-old President Emomali Rakhmon has been in power since 1992.

https://www.france24.com/en/20180824-prominent-rights-lawyer-walks-free-tajikistan

https://eurasianet.org/s/tajikistan-frees-lawyer-in-another-surprise-gesture-of-clemency

https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/07/23/joint-letter-eu-regarding-human-rights-situation-tajikistan

https://www.rferl.org/a/tajik-opposition-lawyer-released-from-prison-after-serving-term/29451165.html

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/case-history-shukhrat-kudratov

https://news.tj/ru/news/tajikistan/laworder/20180824/advokat-shuhrat-kudratov-vishel-na-svobodu (RUSSIAN)

International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute ANNUAL REVIEW 2017

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The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) has launched its 2017 Annual Review, providing an overview of the IBAHRI’s major activities over the year.

2017 was a difficult year for human rights: since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted 70 years ago, it appears that we are now reaching a point where the universal acceptance of human rights is being eroded. Increasingly polarised political spheres and growing support for populist governments are resulting in policies that scapegoat minorities, attack the under-represented and persecute those who oppose these governments.

In this atmosphere, protection of human rights, the rule of law and an independent legal profession are more important than ever. This makes the work of the IBAHRI more important than ever. Since its establishment in 1995, the IBAHRI has endeavoured to defend fundamental human rights through the promotion and protection of the independence of the legal profession, and by providing members of the global legal community with the tools needed to do the same.

 

As part of its ongoing projects in the Americas, the IBAHRI provided torture-prevention training to legal professionals, including judges and public defenders, across Brazil and Mexico. In El Salvador, the IBAHRI brought a high-level delegation of experts on the rights to justice, truth and historical memory to meet with legal professionals, the executive, armed forces, CSOs and academia with a view to achieving justice effectively and realising the rights of those who suffered human rights abuses as a result of the 12-year civil war. Additionally, the IBAHRI continued to monitor the emblematic trial of Venezuelan Judge María Lourdes Afiuni, and sent open letters to President Donald Trump of the United States, which criticised the President and his administration for actions the IBAHRI felt were ‘diametrically opposed to the defence of human rights’.

In Asia Pacific, the IBAHRI worked with the newly established Independent Lawyers’ Association of Myanmar to continue its work in the country, and has been running a trial observation programme to ensure those responsible for the death of prominent lawyer U Ko Ni are brought to justice. In Timor-Leste, the IBAHRI has consolidated its presence in the country by seeking to strengthen the legal profession and supporting the creation of its first national bar association.

The IBAHRI launched a mentorship programme for junior Azerbaijani lawyers that linked them with more experienced senior lawyers, and held a Law Student Conference in Baku, among other activities intended to advocate for the rights of legal professionals in the country. We also facilitated attendance at various OSCE Meetings for lawyers in GeorgiaKazakhstan and Tajikistan as part of the IBAHRI’s ongoing work in Europe and Central Asia.

https://www.ibanet.org/Human_Rights_Institute/Human-Rights-Institute-Annual-Review-2017.aspx

https://www.protect-lawyers.com/fr/

https://www.hrw.org/news/2018/07/23/joint-letter-eu-regarding-human-rights-situation-tajikistan

In Tajikistan, reforms undertaken by the Qualifications Committee set up by the Ministry of Justice drastically decreased the number of practising lawyers.

Read more about the situation of Tajik lawyers and the work the IBAHRI has done in partnership with the Tajikistan Barristers’ Union here:https://tinyurl.com/y7rhftx4

(International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute Facebook, 9/5/18)

Tajikistan: How EU Should Tackle Tajikistan Crackdown

October 10, 2017

2015-9-eca-tajikistan-IRPT

Last time the European Union and Tajikistan held high-level talks on human rights in summer 2016, Tajik authorities were in the midst of the worst crackdown in the country’s recent history. Six days before talks took place, the country’s supreme court had sentenced the leaders of Tajikistan’s leading opposition party, the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan to cruelly long prison sentences. The trials were politically motivated, and the defendants tortured. There was no evidence of the activists’ involvement in non-peaceful activities.

This Thursday, the human rights dialogue will once again take place in Tajikistan’s capital, Dushanbe. But this year, things are even worse.

More than 150 political activists, including at least three human rights lawyers – Shuhrat Kudratov, Buzurgmehr Yorov, and Nuriddin Makhkamov – remain unjustly jailed. Kudratov, who’s already served three years, was to have been released last year but authorities kept him behind bars.  And just last week information surfaced that Yorov – who along with Makhkamov is serving 25 years – has been brutally beaten by prison guards recently and thrown into solitary.

https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/10/10/how-eu-should-tackle-tajikistan-crackdown

https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/10/12/greece-tajik-activist-faces-extradition

https://www.rferl.org/a/eu-accused-of-weak-statement-after-human-rights-visit-tajikistan/28794296.html

Tajikistan: Lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov arrested two years ago

October 4, 2017

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Lawyers for Lawyers has grave concerns about the situation of lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov. Two years ago, on 28 September 2015, Yorov was arrested. Since then he has been imprisoned. Recently, Yorov’s family members have reported that he allegedly is being subjected to regular beatings – accompanied by threats, insults and harassment – by officials at the detention centre. Lawyers for Lawyers called on the Tajik authorities to release Buzurgmehr Yorov immediately.

At the time of his arrest, Yorov had just started to represent thirteen senior leaders of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT). These leaders were arrested by the authorities on various charges on 16 September 2015. The IRPT was the only Islamic political party legally registered in Central Asia before the Supreme Court of Tajikistan banned the party and declared it a terrorist organization on 29 September 2015.

On 6 October 2016, the Dushanbe City Court sentenced Yorov to 23 years in prison. The court found Mr. Yorov guilty of, amongst other things, “fraud” and “public calls for undertaking extremist activities”. Yorov pleaded not guilty and denied any wrongdoing, insisting in his closing statement on 3 October 2016 that he was “not an extremist, but a lawyer”.

Since then, a further three cases have been instigated against Yorov on charges of fraud, “disrespecting” the court, insulting government officials and insulting “the leader of the Nation”, and he has been sentenced to an additional five years in prison.

http://www.advocatenvooradvocaten.nl/12887/tajikistan-concerns-about-lawyer-buzurgmehr-yorov/

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

http://www.ccbe.eu/fileadmin/speciality_distribution/public/documents/HUMAN_RIGHTS_LETTERS/Tajikistan_-_Tadjikistan/2017/EN_HRL_20171116_Tajikistan_Concerns-regarding-the-continuing-detention-and-ill-treatment-of-lawyer-Buzurgmehr-Yorov.pdf

Tajikistan: HRF Calls for Release of Detained Lawyers, End of Press Persecution in Tajikistan

August 29, 2017

The Human Rights Foundation (HRF) condemns the three-year extension of Tajikistani lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov’s 25-year sentence. Yorov was initially arrested for agreeing to act as legal representation for members of the country’s Islamic opposition party, the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), and sentenced to 23 years of imprisonment. Since then, courts have added five years to his sentence, pushing his cumulative prison time above the legal limit. Yorov’s court cases are part of the continuing persecution of lawyers associated with the IRPT. HRF calls on the Tajikistani regime to release Yorov and four other lawyers who were detained for defending IRPT members, and to cease harassing journalists in connection with the IRPT trials.

“All dictatorships lack judicial independence. However, only the most repressive regimes go so far as to target the lawyers that defend their political opponents. Lawyers like Yorov are simply doing their jobs,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of HRF. “Dictator Emomali Rahmon must end the persecution of lawyers and the press in Tajikistan,” added Halvorssen.

Yorov was first arrested on September 28, 2015 on charges of forgery and fraud while representing 13 senior members of the IRPT. He was detained shortly after he issued astatement on the torture of IRPT political leaders in which he specifically referenced one of his clients and called on lawyers, human rights defenders, and activists to protect the prisoners. During his trial in October 2016, he was charged with “calling for the overthrow of the Tajik regime” and “inciting social unrest,” and sentenced to 23 years in prison.

On March 16, 2017, the Supreme Court extended Yorov’s sentence by two additional years in response to an incident in October 2016, when Yorov recited a poem about foolishness during a closed-door trial.

https://www.hrf.org/single-post/2017/08/29/HRF-Calls-for-Release-of-Detained-Lawyers-End-of-Press-Persecution-in-Tajikistan

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