Geneva, London (29/7 – 50)
Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, condemned the arrest and imprisonment of journalists, bloggers and civil society activists in Tajikistan, and questioned the credibility of the evidence presented in court against them.
Lawlor was on a two-week official visit to Tajikistan last December. The report prepared by her and members of the delegation on the results of this visit was published in May of this year, but only now became available to the public.
The authorities of Tajikistan will have to prepare an official response to the document, which will be submitted to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2024.
The report contains details of the detention and imprisonment, as well as information on the conditions of detention in correctional institutions of journalists and bloggers Daleri Imomali, Abdullo Gurbati, Zavkibeki Saidamini, Abdusattor Pirmuhammadzoda, Ulfathonim Mamadshoeva, human rights activists and civil activists Abdulmajid Rizoev, Manuchekhr Kholiqnazarov, Faromuz Irgashev and Khushruz Dzhumaev. Authorities last year sentenced them to various terms ranging from 7 years to life imprisonment. Supporters of the convicts and international human rights organizations believe that the arrests and imprisonment of journalists and civil activists were politically motivated.
“A feature of the trials is that they were all held behind closed doors, the lawyers of the defendants were forbidden to communicate with the media,” the report says.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders and members of the delegation found in criminal cases many facts of human rights violations, non-compliance with the laws of Tajikistan and international obligations of Tajikistan. The report, in particular, notes that some of the defendants were subjected to torture and ill-treatment, some were denied emergency medical care.
The criminal cases brought against civil society activists, human rights activists and journalists, the authors of the report regard as a very bad example of the suppression of freedom of speech and as an attempt to silence critical voices in Tajikistan.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders demands from the government of Tajikistan to provide the true and legal reasons for the arrest and sentence of each of the convicted human rights defenders and civil activists, as well as to explain why the authorities are hiding the details of these high-profile criminal cases from the public, and to what extent this is appropriate international obligations taken on by Tajikistan.
The UN Special Rapporteur is waiting for Dushanbe’s answer to the questions: Where were Saidamini, Pirmuhammadzoda and Dzhumaev from the moment of detention until the official announcement of their arrest, has an investigation been launched into the use of torture against Daleri Imomali, Abdusattor Pirmuhammadzoda and Ulfathonim Mamadshoeva?
The report also contains a requirement to provide a detailed report on the state of health of each of the convicted activists, journalists and bloggers.
The report says that the convicted Mamadshoeva and Kholiknazarov filed a complaint with the collegium of the Supreme Court of Tajikistan. Consideration of their complaints began on 14 March.
The authors of the report, recalling the international obligations of Tajikistan, note their gross violation or ignorance in the consideration of criminal cases of journalists, bloggers and civil activists.
The Tajik authorities have not yet reacted to the report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, but earlier the Supreme Court and the Prosecutor General’s Office of Tajikistan stated that all criminal cases against civil activists, journalists and bloggers were considered objectively and impartially