Civil and Political Rights in Tajikistan: Still a Long Way to Go; the UN Must Hold the Government to Account

Press release
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On 9-10 July 2013, a coalition of NGOs from Tajikistan participated in the 108th session of the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva. The coalition presented its alternative report on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) in Tajikistan, submitted with the support of FIDH (available here).

Tajikistan ratified the ICCPR in 1999. It is now the second time that the Committee considers implementation of the Covenant in Tajikistan. In 2010, the Republic of Tajikistan submitted its Second Periodic Report, where it summarized the main ICCPR-related reforms and laws it has introduced.

As stressed by members of the Human Rights Committee on the first day of the session, on paper the legal framework is satisfactory; but what the Committee is interested in is actual implementation and compliance with the ICCPR.

The alternative NGO report likewise notes that while the government of Tajikistan has taken certain positive steps to promote ICCPR standards (e.g. introduced the institution of a Commissioner for Human Rights), it has ignored numerous recommendations previously made by the Committee. Restrictive laws are still being enacted. Moreover, national institutions tasked with upholding human rights lack independence and financial resources.

As the Committee prepares recommendations to the government of Tajikistan, we call on it to stress the following points as a matter of priority:
-  Abolish the death penalty;
-  Establish a comprehensive system for defending children’s rights;
-  Clearly define and prohibit forced labour;
-  Ensure the independence of the judiciary and strengthen the role of the Council of Justice;
-  Put an end to torture and the practice of courts using witness testimony obtained unlawfully;
-  Decriminalise defamation and guarantee freedom of expression and of the press.

With ICCPR ratification Tajikistan committed itself to fully implement each of the Covenant’s articles. 14 years on, we are still waiting for effective implementation of the laws, and functioning of institutions, that will safeguard civil and political rights. The government of Tajikistan can, and must, do much more to meet its international obligations and commitments given to its own people.

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