Tajikistan: Closure of the NGO "Amparo"

13/11/2012
Urgent Appeal
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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), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Tajikistan.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the closure of Association of Young Lawyers “Amparo”, 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.

According to the information received, 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.

This ruling follows a motion filed on June 29, 2012 by the Ministry of Justice of Tajikistan to liquidate “Amparo”, the 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 and 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.

Mr. Junayd Ibodov, “Amparo”’s lawyer, therefore maintains that the case against the organisation is illegal and politically motivated. “Amparo”’s representatives intend to appeal the Court’s decision in early December.

The Observatory strongly condemns the arbitrary closure of the human rights organisation “Amparo” and the conditions in which the court decision was issued, as it clearly aims at sanctioning the organisation’s legitimate human rights activities.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Tajikistan, urging them to:

i. 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;

ii. 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” ;

iii. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by Tajikistan.

Addresses:

· President of the Republic of Tajikistan, H.E. Mr. Enomali Rahmmon, Rudaki avenue, 80, 734023 g. Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Tel: +992 372 21 68 00
· Prime Minister, Mr. Oqil Oqilov, Rudaki avenue, 80, 734023 g. Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Tel: +992 372 21 66 81 // 21 18 71
· Minister of Justice, Mengliev Rustam Shomurodovich, Rudaki avenue, 25, Dushanbe 734025, Tajikistan. Fax: +992 37 221 80 66
· General Prosecutor Salimzoda Sherkhoni Odina, DUSHANBE, 734043, ABUALI IBN SINO AVE., 126. Phone: + 992 372 355635 // 357874
· Chairman of the Supreme Court Nusratullo Abdullaev, Karaboev avenue, 1, Dushanbe 734018. Tel: +992 372 33 48 21
· Permanent mission of the Republic of Tajikistan to the United Nations in Geneva, 93 rue de la Servette (4th floor), 1202 Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 734 11 58, Email: tajikistanmission@bluewin.ch
· Embassy of the Republic of Tajikistan in Brussels, boulevard Général Jacques 16, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 649 01 95, Email: taj-emb@edpnet.be

Please also write to diplomatic representations of Tajikistan in your respective countries.

***

Paris-Geneva, November 8, 2012

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:

· E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
· Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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