Did you know that Saparmamed Nepeskuliev and 111 other individuals have disappeared in prisons in Turkmenistan? The human
rights situation is critical in many European and Central-Asian countries.
The Civic Solidarity Platform (CSP) has issued an appeal raising serious concerns about the situation for political prisoners
in Turkmenistan and for human rights defenders in other OSCE participating states.
The list of political prisoners disappearing into Turkmenistan’s prison system is getting longer and longer. These individuals have no access to legal representation, medical care, no contact with the outside world. Their families
don’t even know if they are alive and a few of the prisoners are confirmed dead.
Several cases of imprisonment in retaliation for peaceful support of fundamental freedoms in OSCE-states are being highlighted
in the statement from CSP.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) is a member of CSP and has worked closely on several of the cases raised.
Kazakh activists Max Bokayev and Talgat Ayan were sentenced to five years on politically motivated trumped-up charges late last year after exercising their rights to
freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.
Tajik lawyers Buzurgmehr Yorov and Nuriddin Mahkhamov, have been imprisoned on lengthy terms in retaliation for their professional activities as defense lawyers of political opponents
of the regime.
The political opposition in Tajikistan has been eradicated, hundreds of political prisoners now languish behind bars and the
police systematically cracks down on freedom of expression and media freedom. These resent developments were discussed in
Warsaw, at the annual Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) in Warsaw last week.
NHC co-hosted a side-event at HDIM in which the panelists delved deeply into the Tajik human rights crisis. United Nations
Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, professor David Kaye reported on the deteriorating situation for freedom of
expression. A representative from the OSCE Office of the Representative on Freedom of the Media spoke about recent alarming
developments in the field of media freedom.
The NHC representative and Human Rights Watch’s Central Asia researcher raised concerns about the harsh retaliatory actions against meted out against relatives of Tajik activists who speak out about abuses, and provided policy recommendations to
decision makers in Washington and Brussels.
- Tajik authorities are cracking down ruthlessly because they keep getting away with it. Tajikistan’s democratic partners
must consider targeted sanctions against key government officials complicit in gross human rights violations, says Marius
Fossum, NHC Regional Representative in Central Asia.
Together with Civil Rights Defenders, Sweden, and Freedom Now, USA, NHC has written a letter to the UN Secretary-General António
Guterres ahead of his visit to Tajikistan, reminding him of the grave human rights situation and the negative development
in the country. Since 2014, the Tajik government has undertaken a widespread crackdown to dismantle and discredit the country’s
peaceful political opposition.
– Tajikistan’s security services have taken new actions against relatives of at least three political activists abroad who
engage in peaceful criticism of the government, Human Rights Watch and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee said today.
Serious Blow to Independence of Legal Profession. – A court in Tajikistan on October 6, 2016, sentenced two prominent human
rights lawyers to long prison terms, Human Rights Watch, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and Association for Human Rights
in Central Asia said today
– Tajikistan’s Supreme Court sentenced leaders of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) on June 2, 2016 to lengthy
prison terms on charges of attempting to overthrow the government, Human Rights Watch, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and
the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia said today. The sentences, including two life terms, followed an unfair trial
initiated in retaliation for their peaceful political opposition and reflect the government’s pervasive manipulation of the
justice system and egregious violations of the right to freedom of expression.
Respect Independence of Legal Profession: Oslo, May 3, 2016: Tajik authorities should immediately and unconditionally release
four human rights lawyers and two sons of another prominent lawyer who are imprisoned or detained on politically motivated
charges, Human Rights Watch and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee said today. Tajik authorities should stop harassing and targeting
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is relieved to learn that Shabnam Khudoydodova has been freed from detention in Belarus.
Ms. Khudoydodova was released in Brest on 22 February, 2016 after eight months in detention pursuant to an extradition request
The Tajik government is arresting, imprisoning, and torturing members of the country’s peaceful political opposition, Human
Rights Watch and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee said today. The government is also targeting perceived critics abroad, seeking
their detention and extradition back to Tajikistan, and has forcibly disappeared critics abroad only to have them reappear
in Tajik custody.
Tajik authorities detained at least 13 activists of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) on September 16, 2015,
Human Rights Watch, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia said today. Authorities
should immediately release or, if there is credible evidence that they have committed a legitimate offence, promptly charge
them and ensure due process for all the detainees, including timely access to independent counsel and contact with family
members. Photo: 2013 HRW
The Tajik government should reverse its decision to order the closure of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT)
and allow the party to operate freely, Human Rights Watch, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and the Association for Human
Rights in Central Asia said today. Tajik authorities should also halt their ongoing campaign of harassment against the party
and its members and allow independent political parties to operate freely in Tajikistan.
In two joint letters to the governments of Belarus and Moldova, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Association for Human
Rights in Central Asia urge them to uphold their international obligations and secure two peaceful Tajik opposition activists
from extradition to Tajikistan and possible torture and other ill-treatment. Moldova and Belarus are bound by international
refugee law as well as the UN Convention against Torture. They cannot lawfully return Mr. Sobir Valiev and Ms. Shabnam Khudoydodova
to Tajikistan where torture remains widespread.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee visited Tajikistan last week to gain an impression of the climate in which the 1 March parliamentary
elections were carried out. With 54 out of 63 seats in parliament, the ruling party has cemented the parliament's role as
merely a rubber stamp body for the president. The authorities have targeted especially the Islamic Revival Party during the
last year. The state-owned propaganda machinery has attacked and discredited the party and its members, linking it to extremism
and terrorism among other things. Furthermore several of the party's candidates have been disqualified on questionable grounds
and its campaigning material has been blocked.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was shocked and saddened to learn of the assassination of Tajik opposition leader Umarali
Kuvatov, who was shot at close range by an unknown person outside his home in Istanbul, Turkey, on the evening of 5 March.
Kuvatov was in the presence of his wife and children when he was killed by a gunshot to the head.
NHC joins a number of civil society organisations from the OSCE region in protesting the recent initiative of Tajikistan’s
government to regulate and restrict access of NGOs to financial assistance from foreign and international sources.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was present in Tajikistan this week to tap the atmosphere surrounding the 6 November presidential
elections, where the incumbent Emomali Rakhmon as of Thursday morning took 83,9 % of the votes. The landslide win came as
no surprise, with the run-up to Election Day following a familiar formula long established in Tajikistan as well as in many
of its neighboring states. -Pre-determined election results are no proof of stability. We consider that it merely reflects
the lack of political pluralism in Tajikistan, said Ivar Dale, Norwegian Helsinki Committee Regional Representative in Central
In July 2012, Tajikistani authorities used disproportional force in a special operation in the mountainous Pamir region of
Tajikistan, bordering Afghanistan. Officially, the authorities were aiming to arrest criminals linked to militant forces in
Afghanistan. Effectively, communications lines were cut off for a long period of time, a large number of civilians suffered
in terms of property damage and injuries, and more than 22 people died. One year later, the authorities have failed to provide
adequate information on the details around what happened and which legal acts are being taken to punish those involved.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is pleased to announce the continuation of our small grants fund for Central Asia. All organizations
with project proposals related to human rights, democratization or strengthening of civil society may apply. While we are
open to all good proposals, we encourage projects in Kazakhstan related to the outlying regions of the country. In Kyrgyzstan,
we are particularly interested in projects addressing the basic human rights of vulnerable groups as well as legal initiatives.
In Tajikistan, strengthening of the media and the rights of children is important. However, we are open to original and innovative
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was relieved to learn of the decision by Ukrainian authorities to respect international human
rights obligations and to reject an extradition request for the former Prime Minister of Tajikistan to his home country.
On 24 July central Special Forces entered the Gorno-Badakshan region (Pamir) with military personnel and equipment, including
helicopters. Allegedly, the aim was to arrest the militants suspect of the murder of the local head of the KNB. However, as
the day advanced, reports of civilian casualties emerged, as well as raids and shooting of schools and private homes. There
was no organized evacuation of civilians before the actions started, and an information blockade followed.
Oslo/Almaty: On 5 February 2013, the former Prime Minister of Tajikistan, Abdulmalik Abdullodzhonov, was arrested at Borispol
International Airport in Kiev, Ukraine. Abdullodzhonov, who has been residing in the USA for the past 14 years, had arrived
to Ukraine on private business and was detained due to his having been included on the Interpol wanted list by Tajik authorities.
If extradited, Abdullodzhonov is at great risk of being subjected to ill-treatment and torture.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was distressed to learn of serious, anonymous threats made against the Central Asia Program
Director of Human Rights Center Memorial, Vitaliy Ponomarev, on 12 January 2012 and urges Russian and Uzbekistani authorities
to open an investigation.