Joint oral statement to Human Rights Council on Tajikistan
On 23 March 2022, Lawyers for Lawyers and the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) delivered an oral statement on Tajikistan during the 49th session of the UN Human Rights Council. During this session, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Outcome Report of Tajikistan was adopted. Lawyers for Lawyers and IBAHRI had already submitted a NGO-submission for the UPR-session of Tajikistan.
The statement reads as follows:
Lawyers for Lawyers and the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute welcome the decision of Tajikistan to accept some of the recommendations related to the protection of human rights defenders and lawyers. We encourage Tajikistan to ensure effective and timely implementation of these recommendations and we stand ready to support the government.
In countries where lawyers and human rights defenders are imprisoned for defending rights and where judicial independence is lacking, there is no means to access to justice. This prevents the right to seek remedy, perpetuates impunity, and undermines the rule of law. In recent years, lawyers in Tajikistan have been facing significant constraints and challenges in exercising their profession safely and independently. Their rights, and those of their clients, are not guaranteed. The executive branch systematically improperly interferes and hinders the work of lawyers. These practices, contrary to the principle of equality of arms, to the right to an effective defense, go unaddressed.
Furthermore, lawyers have faced judicial persecution for their involvement in politically sensitive cases. Alarmingly, based on the definitions of terrorism and extremism in the Tajik legislation, lawyers who defend clients charged with such crimes risk similar criminal prosecution, as was the case with the lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov.
A further concern is that the independence of the legal profession in Tajikistan is not fully guaranteed. Some entities of the Bar Association depend on the Ministry of Justice, including the Qualification Commission, exposing the legal profession to interference by the executive.
In order to ensure effective implementation of the accepted recommendations, we urge Tajikistan to:
- Enact necessary safeguards to ensure the full independence and safety of lawyers in line with the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers.
- Immediately and unconditionally release all lawyers and human rights defenders who have been detained for doing their work and drop all charges against them.
- Refrain from any actions that may constitute harassment, persecution, or undue interference in the work of lawyers and take all effective measures to ensure that these violations are investigated and publicly condemned.
- Our organizations stand ready to cooperate with Tajikistan on the above recommendations.
Click here to see the video statement at 26:43.
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