Annual Report: Tajikistan 2013

Report
May 29, 2013

Annual Report: Tajikistan 2013

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Republic of Tajikistan

Head of state Emomali Rahmon

Head of government Ogil Ogilov

Torture and other ill-treatment remained widespread and impunity for perpetrators continued. There was no access to detention facilities for independent monitoring bodies. Freedom of expression was still under attack, despite some liberalization in the law.

Background

In July, clashes between government and armed groups took place in Khorog, Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO). In some of the most intense fighting since the end of the 1992-1997 civil war, unofficial reports said some 150 people including soldiers and civilians were killed during a government military operation launched against forces loyal to the deputy commander of the Ishkashim border unit, former opposition leader in the civil war Tolib Ayombekov.

Torture and other ill-treatment

In March, the government stated its intention to implement recommendations from the UN Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review, such as ensuring detainees access to legal and medical assistance when in custody. In April, the Criminal Code was amended to include torture as a criminal offence. In June, the Supreme Court provided guidelines for judges in cases of alleged or suspected torture or other ill-treatment; and the General Prosecutor's Office drafted recommendations for prosecutors on investigation of torture cases.

Despite these positive developments, reports of torture and other ill-treatment continued. The UN Special Rapporteur on torture and the UN Committee against Torture both published their findings. After his visit in May, the UN Special Rapporteur stated that torture and other ill-treatment “happens often… in a wide variety of settings”.

In November, the UN Committee against Torture noted “numerous and consistent allegations … of routine use of torture and ill-treatment of suspects, principally to extract confessions … primarily during the first hours of interrogation in police custody as well as in temporary and pre-trial detention facilities run by the State Committee of National Security (SCNS) and the Department for the Fight against Organized Crime.”

Children, elderly people and witnesses in criminal cases reported instances of torture and other ill-treatment. Torture methods included the use of electric shocks, boiling water, suffocation, beatings, and burning with cigarettes. There were reports of rape and threats of rape in relation to female and male detainees, as well as psychological torture.

Most instances of torture and other ill-treatment occurred before the suspect was registered at a police station. Suspects were not informed of their rights (to see a lawyer, to notify family or to remain silent) until the detention was registered. This should happen within three hours of being taken to a police station, but in practice often happened much later. There were cases of incommunicado detention for several days or even weeks before registration.

  • Sherik Karamhudoev, head of the opposition group the Islamic Renaissance Party in Khorog, GBAO, disappeared on 24 July during the clashes. His whereabouts were only made known to his family on 8 August, and he was not allowed to see his defence lawyers for nearly two months. He was reportedly tortured while in the SCNS detention centre in Dushanbe. He was charged with organizing a criminal group and illegal possession of firearms.

Detainees were routinely interrogated without a lawyer and some lawyers were unable to see their clients for several days, despite legal provisions ensuring the right of detainees to see a lawyer from the time the detention is registered.

People accused of involvement in banned Islamic movements and Islamist groups or parties were usually detained by the Interior Ministry and the SCNS. They were at particular risk of torture and other ill-treatment and access to their defence lawyers was limited or denied. Their lawyers also had inadequate access to case materials against their clients.