Annual Report: Tajikistan 2013

Report
May 29, 2013

Annual Report: Tajikistan 2013

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There were reports of people being abducted by Tajikistani security forces outside their territory and being forcibly returned to Tajikistan. In several cases, the authorities based extradition requests for people they alleged to be members of banned Islamic groups or Islamist parties on unreliable or incomplete information. The individuals said they were tortured after their return.

  • In April, 27-year-old Savriddin Dzhurayev was sentenced to 26 years in prison after being convicted of plotting to overthrow constitutional order “in the period around 1992”, when he was seven years old. He had fled to Russia in 2006 and his extradition was requested by Tajikistan in 2009. He was given temporary asylum status in Russia in August 2011. The European Court of Human Rights had instructed Russia not to extradite while it examined his case, but in October 2011 he was abducted in Moscow by unidentified men speaking Tajikistani and forcibly returned to Tajikistan. He told his lawyers he was subjected to ill-treatment in detention in Khujand and had been interrogated without a lawyer.

In November, the UN Committee against Torture urged Tajikistan to “cease the practice of abducting and forcibly returning individuals to Tajikistan from other States and subsequently holding them in incommunicado detention, and ensure that they are not subjected to acts of torture and ill-treatment”.

Lack of accountability

A general climate of impunity persisted. Although – for the first time – a police inspector was found guilty of torture in the case of a 17-year-old boy in Khatlon region and sentenced to seven years' imprisonment in September, and a second officer was sentenced to one year for the crime of torture in December, in other cases, law enforcement officials sentenced for “exceeding official authority” were released early, under the 2011 Law on Amnesties. For example, in July, the Dushanbe Prosecutor's Office ruled to end the criminal investigations against two police officers allegedly responsible for the death in custody of Safarali Sangov in March 2011 and they were amnestied.

Despite the Criminal Procedural Code stating that evidence obtained through torture should be excluded from court, there were no cases in the year where judges implemented exclusionary measures.

Victims of torture and their relatives reported they were afraid to lodge complaints with Prosecutor's offices for fear of reprisals.

The authorities denied access to detention facilities for independent monitors, including the ICRC and local NGOs.

Judges at remand hearings regularly disregarded allegations of torture and other ill-treatment by detainees, referring detainees to the prosecutor to lodge a complaint.

During investigations into allegations of torture and other ill-treatment, victims and their families were not given regular updates or access to case materials. In May, the Constitutional Court upheld the General Prosecutor's decision to limit access for the victims of human rights violations to evidence against the alleged perpetrators.

Prosecutors' offices routinely did not disclose information about how the complaints were examined or the grounds for their rulings that there was no evidence of wrongdoing by officials. Delays by the prosecutor in demanding medical examinations on alleged victims of torture or other ill-treatment meant that physical traces had disappeared.

Deaths in custody

The authorities failed to protect the lives of people in custody. Deaths in custody were not investigated effectively and officials were rarely punished.

  • In September, 27-year-old Hamza Ikromzoda died in prison, allegedly after torture. In October, a forensic examination concluded that he had committed suicide. Former cellmates who alleged witnessing his death were reportedly subjected to torture and other ill-treatment in prisons in Dushanbe and Khujand.

Freedom of expression

On 2 August, the Criminal Code was amended to decriminalize libel, although penalties remained for insulting the President. However, there were continuing reports of government attempts to restrict the right to freedom of expression of human rights activists, lawyers, medical experts and journalists.