TAJIKISTAN: Open Letter to the authorities about the arbitrary closure of the human rights NGO “Amparo”

30/01/2013
Urgent Appeal
en ru

Attn: President of the Republic of Tajikistan, H.E. Enomali Rahmon, Minister of Justice, Mr. Mengliev Rustam Shomurodovich, Chairman of the Supreme Court, Mr. Nusratullo Abdullaev, State Adviser of the President of Tajikistan on Legal Policy, Mr. Juma Dalatov,State Adviser of the President of Tajikistan on Social Development and Public Relations,
Mr. Saidmurod Samadovich Fattoev.

Excellencies,

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), hereby expresses its utmost concern about the closure of the Association of Young Lawyers “Amparo”, and calls on the Tajik authorities to overturn the decision and address the shortcomings of the legislation on civil society organisations, which currently does not meet international standards for the protection of human rights.

“Amparo” is a human rights organisation founded in 2005 and a member of the Coalition Against Torture, very active in investigating cases of torture and ill-treatment as well as in monitoring and advocating for the rights of vulnerable groups in Tajikistan.

On October 24, 2012, a court of the City of Khujand (North of Tajikistan) headed by Judge Safarali Kurbonov decided to close down “Amparo”, on grounds that the organisation had breached several of its legal and administrative obligations, including the provisions of the new Law “On Public Associations”, adopted in 2007.

On January 15, 2013, the Syghd Regional Court confirmed its closure following an appeal lodged by “Amparo” on November 28, 2012.

These rulings follow a motion filed on June 29, 2012 by the Ministry of Justice of Tajikistan to liquidate “Amparo”, one day after officials conducted a large audit at the Khujand offices of the organisation without providing any prior notification nor presenting any written decision of inspection.

In the said motion, the Ministry of Justice alleged that “Amparo” had changed its legal address without re-registering with the local Department of Justice; that it had created an official website in contravention with the Law “On Public Associations”; that it was carrying out activities outside the Sughd region where it was registered; and that it conducted training sessions on human rights issues for high school students without any proper licence.

It is to be noted however that all the allegations of the Ministry of Justice appear to be groundless, as “Amparo” representatives did reportedly inform the Tajik authorities that the organisation’s address had changed once more in 2010, and as that they have held all their training sessions in the framework of agreements with the Ministry of Education and/or the local executive authorities. In addition, no provision of the Law “On Public Associations” prohibits them from operating a website and, before it was forcibly closed down, “Amparo” reportedly had an application for country-wide registration pending with the Ministry of Justice since July 25, 2012.

We strongly condemn what we consider as an arbitrary closure of the human rights organisation “Amparo”, as well as the conditions in which the court decision was issued.

We urge the Tajik authorities to put an end to any act of harassment - including at the judicial level - against “Amparo” and its members, as well as against all human rights defenders in Tajikistan, and to conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:

- its Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”,

- its article 5, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, at the national and international levels: (a) To meet or assemble peacefully; (b) To form, join and participate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups; (c) To communicate with non-governmental or intergovernmental organizations.”

- its Article 6 (b) and (c), which states that “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others […] as provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms and [...] to study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”.

- and its Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”.

In the hope that the judicial authorities of Tajikistan will overturn the decision of the Syghd Regional Court and that the authorities will more generally guarantee an environment favourable to human rights defenders’ activities in the country,

We remain,

Souhayr BELHASSEN Gerald STABEROCK
FIDH President OMCT Secretary General

For further information, please contact:
• FIDH: Audrey Couprie / Arthur Manet: + 33 1 43 55 25 18

The letter is avalaible in Tajik here.

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