Lawyers’ Day in Tajikistan
Today is “Lawyers’ Day” in Tajikistan, when lawyers celebrate the establishment of the first Bar Association.The situation of lawyers in Tajikistan remains concerning and, on what should be a day of celebration, Lawyers for Lawyers would like to pay attention to the human rights lawyers Burzurgmehr Yorov and Manuchehr Kholiknazarov.
In December, Lawyers for Lawyers and Freedom Now have expressed their concern about the on-going imprisonment of lawyer Buzurghmehr Yorov in a joint letter to the Minister of Justice of the Republic of Tajikistan.
On 6 October 2016, Mr. Yorov was found guilty for several violations of the Criminal Code and sentenced to 23 years imprisonment. In 2017, his sentence was increased with 5 years for insulting government officials. Mr. Yorov received a total sentence of 28 years, which was reduced by six years in the mass amnesty of December 2019.
According to our information, Mr. Yorov has suffered serious ill-treatment and is at grave risk at the moment. On 16 November 2022, he was placed in solitary confinement in a punishment cell for expressing its disagreement with the President. Here, Mr. Yorov is reportedly tortured, which has even led to hospitalization.
On May 30, 2022, Manuchehr was detained by employees of the security services and the prosecutor’s office on charges of being a member of a criminal organization. The arrest is related to his role in Commission 44. In December 2022, he was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in prison. While he was in pre-trial detention in Dushanbe he was allegedly tortured to coerce a confession.
In addition to the harassment and persecution of individual lawyers, there are also concerns about the independence of the legal profession in Tajikistan. Furthermore, the small number of practising lawyers in Tajikistan is worrying, with only 823 registered lawyers for a population of 9.3 million. In certain regions, the number of lawyers is so low that some towns have no lawyers at all.
Lawyers for Lawyers expresses concern about the worrying situation of lawyers in Tajikistan and urges the Tajik government to take immediate action to guarantee the full independence and safety of lawyers and to release all lawyers who have been unduly detained. Moreover, Lawyers for Lawyers calls upon the relevant authorities to safeguard the independence of the Bar Association and legal profession and to take measures to increase the number of individuals qualifying to practise as lawyers, including in rural areas.
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