Tag Archives: Tajikistan

Tajikistan: Fighting for Tajikistan’s Jailed Lawyers

January 23, 2019

Fighting for Tajikistan’s Jailed Lawyers

On September 28, 2015, Tajik lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov left his office to meet with officials from the Ministry of Interior. The head of the ministry’s Organized Crime Unit had summoned Buzurgmehr to his office for what his family prayed might be a simple conversation.

Buzurgmehr must have had an idea of what was to come. One of Tajikistan’s most indefatigable human rights lawyers, he had recently taken on representation of 13 opposition politicians accused by the government — without evidence — of plotting a coup. Just a few days earlier, Buzurgemehr announced that one of his clients had been tortured in pretrial detention and called for a coalition of lawyers to join him in representing the detained politicians. Shortly after this announcement, government officials asked Buzurgemehr to drop the case. He refused.

When Buzurgmehr entered the Ministry of Interior offices on September 28, he was immediately arrested and ultimately charged with forgery, fraud, arousing national, racial, local, or religious hostility, and extremism. A statement issued by the ministry described him as an “attorney-fraudster” and a “swindler.” A few weeks later, a television show depicted Buzurgmehr as an “attorney-fraudster” with stock images of money bags.

https://thediplomat.com/2019/01/fighting-for-tajikistans-jailed-lawyers/

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/tajik-dissidents-attempt-challenge-ruling-class-poland-181026134506650.html

https://www.rferl.org/a/tajik-human-rights-u-s-concerned-puma/29561964.html

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

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Tajikistan: ‘Even by leaving us she gave us a lesson’: Fearless rights defender’s death shocks Tajikistan

January 7, 2019

Fayzinisso Vohidova, a prominent Tajik lawyer who was renowned for her preparedness to defend political arrestees and constant criticism of Tajikistan’s authoritarian system, passed away on January 4.

On Facebook, where open criticism of authorities in the Central Asian country is growing rarer and rarer, the outpouring of grief told its own story.

A mother of three, Vohidova was often referred to by her admirers as a “Gurdofarid”, referencing the fearless ancient Persian heroine from the Shahnameh epic Persian poem.

She lost a short battle to pneumonia only a week after celebrating her 55th birthday.

In recent years, Vohidova suffered regular harassment at the hands of Tajik authorities, verbal attacks from regime supporters and a curtailment of her professional activities.

Although she avoided arrest, Vohidova had her license to practise law suspended andcould not leave the country at the time of her death.

https://globalvoices.org/2019/01/07/even-by-leaving-us-she-gave-us-a-lesson-fearless-rights-defenders-death-shocks-tajikistan/

https://www.rferl.org/a/faiziniso-vohidova-tajik-lawyer-who-defended-dissidents-for-decades-dies-at-55/29691242.html?fbclid=IwAR1YtdbURiKj1eXIB8Dyzp_Yi8SwAna6HHSA0cn1Sc4I-pGegxQyvm5UxPE

https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/05/16/tajikistan-travel-ban-rights-lawyer

https://www.ccbe.eu/fileadmin/speciality_distribution/public/documents/HUMAN_RIGHTS_LETTERS/Tajikistan_-_Tadjikistan/2017/EN_HRL_20170809_Tajikistan_Concerns-regarding-the-travel-ban-against-lawyer-Fayzinisso-Vohidova.pdf

https://rus.ozodi.org/a/29695917.html (RUSSIAN)

Tajikistan: regional conference on the role and protection of lawyers

November 9, 2018

Today the ICJ, in co-operation with the Legal Policy Research Centre and the Union of Lawyers of Tajikistan, is holding a regional conference on the independence and role of lawyers, in Dushanbe.

Lawyers from Tajikistan as well as other countries of Central Asia, the Commonwealth of Independent States and Europe will discuss the legal safeguards that should apply to lawyers to ensure that they can defend the human rights of their clients and the role of bar associations in protecting the security and independence of lawyers.

They will consider the role of committees to protect the rights of lawyers, which have been established within the bar associations of several countries in the region, and how these specialized bodies can work most effectively.

A set of recommendations on the protection of lawyers in the region will be produced following the conference.

https://www.icj.org/tajikistan-regional-conference-on-the-role-and-protection-of-lawyers/?fbclid=IwAR2EuH-u9F2Vw2oqm6GYWbXnPI7Szza22NPfMnA7kBiuSnskIXmLehUr-qg

https://euobserver.com/opinion/143485

http://lprc.kz/en

Image may contain: 2 people, including Sergey  Sizintsev, people smiling

(Facebook, 11/11/18)

Poland/Tajikistan: Tajik dissidents attempt to challenge ruling class from Poland

October 26, 2018

Tajiks ‘banned’ at home form opposition alliance in Poland, where Islamophobia and anti-refugee sentiment is rising.

There are around 500 Tajiks in Poland [File: Kacper Pempel/Reuters]

To human rights campaigners, Alim Sherzamonov is a civil society activist.

But in his native Tajikistan, he is considered an “extremist”.

Sherzamonov is from Khorog in eastern Tajikistan’s Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, which borders Afghanistan, and is a local opposition leader.

Tensions between the Tajik government in Dushanbe and the people of Gorno-Badakhshan run high. Demonstrations six years ago turned deadly as the army and local armed forces clashed.

Like other Tajik opposition dissidents, Sherzamonov fled Tajikistan for Poland.

“We hope that Polish authorities will help us endorse our plight,” said Sherzamonov, who reached the Eastern European country last year.

In early September, he was appointed as a deputy leader of the National Alliance of Tajikistan – an opposition coalition of four Tajik dissident parties and organisations: the Forum of Tajik Freethinkers, the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), the Association of Central Asian Migrants, and the People’s Movement “Reforms and Development in Tajikistan”.

The Alliance represents a broad section of Tajik society, including secular and traditional figures, and is based in Poland.

Jamshed Yorov, a lawyer from Dushanbe, is also among the Tajiks living in Poland. He was detained several times in his homeland on various charges before he escaped to Poland. Meanwhile, his brother Buzurgmehr Yorov, a human rights lawyer, was sentenced to 28 years in prison for defending political dissidents from the banned IRPT.

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/tajik-dissidents-attempt-challenge-ruling-class-poland-181026134506650.html?fbclid=IwAR17dx3PikLcn2kkCxHXaX4gDfNNWhwj06sUs9-nhRYMkESGTcgtygo7mSI

https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/agnieszka-pikulicka-wilczewska/free-fatima-tajik-regime-children-political-exiles-hostages

https://eurasianet.org/for-tajikistans-asylum-seekers-poland-is-a-dead-end

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

https://www.article19.org/resources/tajikistan-human-rights-lawyer-buzurgmehr-yorov-sentenced-to-a-further-three-years-imprisonment/

Tajikistan: Freedom Now Files Petition with UN on behalf of Buzurgmehr Yorov

October 22, 2018

Image result for Buzurgmehr Yorov

On October 22, 2018, Freedom Now, Lawyers for Lawyers, Hogan Lovells US LLP, and DLA Piper UK LLP filed a petition with the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on behalf of human rights lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov. The organizations argue that the Government of Tajikistan’s continued detention of Yorov is in violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and urge the UN Working Group to take immediate action.

“Buzurgmehr Yorov is an indefatigable advocate for human rights defenders, opposition politicians, and other politically persecuted individuals in Tajikistan,” said Freedom Now Legal Director Kate Barth. “His detention is a violation of his fundamental rights and a deeply troubling example of Tajikistan’s disrespect for the rule of law. We call on the Tajik government to immediately and unconditionally release Yorov; we are confident that the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention will come to the same conclusion.”

Yorov is one of Tajikistan’s most eminent human rights lawyers, a reputation developed by taking on a number of high-profile legal cases, representing individuals prosecuted by the government of Tajikistan on politically-motivated charges. The government has routinely targeted Yorov for his work. For example, one case initiated by the former chief military prosecutor and current Attorney General sought to dissolve his law firm.

In early September 2015, Yorov took on the initial representation of 13 members of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) who had been falsely accused by the government of orchestrating a failed coup in September 2015. On the same day that the Tajik Supreme Court designated the IRPT a terrorist organization, police arrested Yorov, raided his home and legal office without a warrant, and ultimately charged him with forgery, fraud, “arousing national, racial, local or religious hostility” and extremism. These charges appear to have been prompted by an interview Yorov gave shortly before his arrest in which he announced that his client had been tortured in pre-trial detention and called for a coalition of lawyers to join him in representing the detained IRPT members.

Yorov was held in pre-trial detention for about eight months, where he was beaten and held in solitary confinement in several occasions. On October 6, 2015, after a trial replete with due process violations, he was sentenced to 23 years in prison.

http://www.freedom-now.org/news/tajikistan-freedom-now-files-petition-with-un-on-behalf-of-buzurgmehr-yorov/?fbclid=IwAR2Ql6kqINgSIiu9ueLTxBLhOLa-In2Ylfjesh_hE1JJ0MIc_1ufi-O-2wg

https://www.rferl.org/a/tajik-human-rights-u-s-concerned-puma/29561964.html

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

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

https://www.rferl.org/a/brother-of-former-ablyazov-lawyer-jailed-on-graft-charges-in-kazakhstan/29559028.html

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/