Urgent Action Update: Independent Journalist Imprisoned for a Year (Tajikistan: UA 17.20)
April 23, 2020
Independent journalist Daler Sharipov was found guilty of trumped up charges of “inciting religious discord” by a court in Tajikistan on 16 April and sentenced to one year in prison. He is a prisoner of conscience, convicted solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression, and must be released immediately and unconditionally. He remains at risk of torture and of contracting COVID-19 in detention.
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Ambassador Farhod Salim Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan
1005 New Hampshire Avenue NW, Washington DC 20037
Phone: 202 223 6090 I Fax: 202 223 6091
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
On 16 April Shohmansur District Court in Dushanbe convicted independent journalist Daler Sharipov of “inciting religious discord” under Article 189 of the Criminal Code. The court found him guilty of publishing and unofficially disseminating a hundred copies of his dissertation on Islam and sentenced him to one year in prison.
Throughout his career as a journalist, Daler Sharipov has covered various matters of public interest, including human rights violations and religious freedom. Many of his publications have been critical of government policies. I am concerned that his arrest, prosecution and conviction are retribution for his critical publications and his journalistic work. He has not committed any recognizable criminal offense, and he has exercised his right to freedom of expression.
Daler Sharipov continues to be at real risk of torture and other ill-treatment while in detention and he faces health risks. In 2019, the UN Human Rights Committee expressed serious concerns that decades of government reform initiatives had failed to address the routine and pervasive use of torture in detention in Tajikistan. The Committee also recommended that the government urgently address chronic overcrowding in places of detention, poor sanitary facilities and lack of adequate medical care. Such conditions make prisoners highly vulnerable to COVID-19. Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has urged all governments to release “every person detained without sufficient legal basis, including political prisoners, and those detained for critical, dissenting views to avoid catastrophic rates of COVID-19 infections”.
I urge you to take all necessary steps to ensure that Daler Sharipov is released immediately and unconditionally, as he is a prisoner of conscience jailed solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression. In the meantime, please ensure that Daler Sharipov and all others imprisoned in Tajikistan are protected against torture and other ill-treatment and have access to adequate medical care and to healthcare provisions necessary for testing, prevention and treatment of COVID-19.