This page summarizes cases raised with Tajikistan by the Special Rapporteur between May 1, 2011, (when the Special Rapporteur took up his functions) and February 28, 2016 (the date of the last public release of communications). Communications are released to the public once per year. This page also contains observations on these communications and on responses received from Tajikistan.
Communications and observations are divided into sections based upon which observation report they originally appeared.
Each communication is referenced as urgent appeal (UA), allegation letter (AL), joint urgent appeal (JUA) and joint allegation letter (JAL) – the hyperlinks lead to these documents. This is followed by the date the communication was issued, as well as the case number and the State reply (also hyperlinked if available).
Summaries and communications are published only in the language of submission (in the case of Tajikistan, English).
The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of Tajikistan for its response. He however regrets that no reply has been received to the communication of 20 November 2012. He considers responses to his communications as an important part of the cooperation of Governments with his mandate, and urges the authorities to provide as soon as possible detailed responses to all the concerns raised in his communication.
The Special Rapporteur remains seriously concerned about the closure of the Association of Young Lawyers of Tajikistan (Amparo), allegations received pointing the received pointing to the lack of transparency and clear procedural guidelines regarding the conduct of the audit as well as significant irregularities in the auditing process itself. This is all the more disturbing that Amparo had actively engaged with United Nations human rights mechanism, particularly on issues related to torture and ill-treatment.
The Special Rapporteur urges the authorities to take all relevant measures to ensure that any individual and legal entity can peacefully exercise their rights of freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. He recommends that the Government put in place an enabling and safe environment allowing individuals to exercise their legitimate freedoms without undue hindrances. A thorough and independent investigation into any allegations of any alleged human rights violations, including acts of intimidations or harassments, committed against those exercising their rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, should be conducted; those responsible should be held accountable; and victims should be provided with full redress.
The Special Rapporteur refers to Human Rights Council resolution 21/16, and in particular operative paragraph 1 that “[r]eminds States of their obligation to respect and fully protect the rights of all individuals to assemble peacefully and associate freely, online as well as offline, including in the context of elections, and including persons espousing minority or dissenting views or beliefs, human rights defenders, trade unionists and others, including migrants, seeking to exercise or to promote these rights, and to take all necessary measures to ensure that any restrictions on the free exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are in accordance with their obligations under international human rights law”.
The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of Tajikistan for its response to his communication.
In relation to elections, the Special Rapporteur “stresses that electoral periods are such an important time to build democratic, responsive and accountable institutions and that very strict and clear safeguards should be put in place by States to prevent undue interference in public freedoms, in particular in the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. Further, in times of elections, States should make greater efforts to facilitate and protect the exercise of these core rights, which should be enjoyed by everyone, especially by members of groups at risk. In effect, genuine elections cannot be achieved if the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are curtailed” (A/HRC/68/299, para. 56).
The Special Rapporteur refers to Human Rights Council resolution 24/5, and in particular operative paragraph 1 that “[r]eminds States of their obligation to respect and fully protect the rights of all individuals to assemble peacefully and associate freely, online as well as offline, including in the context of elections, and including persons espousing minority or dissenting views or beliefs, human rights defenders, trade unionists and others, including migrants, seeking to exercise or to promote these rights, and to take all necessary measures to ensure that any restrictions on the free exercise of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are in accordance with their obligations under international human rights law”.
Responses to communications
The Special Rapporteur thanks the Government of Tajikistan for its reply to the communications sent during the reporting period. In this connection, he is grateful for the cooperation extended to the mandate, in compliance with Human Rights Council resolutions 24/5 (2013), 21/16 (2012) and 15/21 (2010).
Law on Public Associations
The Special Rapporteur notes with appreciation the response provided by the Government in relation to The draft amendments to the Law on Public Associations of 12 May 2007, which allow for new inspection procedures for public associations and new registration and authorization mechanisms for associations receiving foreign funding (TJK 6/2014). He recalls his concern that these amendments place additional burdens on public associations and seem to contradict the State’s obligation to establish and maintain a conducive environment for the free operations of associations and could undermine legitimate human rights activities in Tajikistan. Moreover, he recalls the observation of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights that advises the Government of Tajikistan to consider civil society’s and other stakeholders’ comments and recommendations in the review of the draft amendments to this law in order to strengthen the role of civil society in fostering economic, social and cultural rights (E/C.12/TJK/CO/2-3, paragraph 10).
He notes with concern that legislation and legal frameworks governing the ability of associations to seek, receive and use resources may have a substantial impact on the exercise of the right to freedom of association. Any restrictions must be in line with international human rights law, which provides that any limitations must be necessary and proportionate to a pressing social need. In his view, the legal requirement to account systematically for funding from foreign sources and to apply to a new registry to receive and use foreign funding would not meet this test of necessity and proportionality.
The Special Rapporteur recalls that any association “should have the right to seek and secure funding and resource from domestic, foreign, and international entities” (A/HRC/20/27 para. 68). The Special Rapporteur reminds the State that it has an obligation not to obstruct the exercise of the right to freedom of association. This responsibility includes guaranteeing that both registered and unregistered associations can seek and secure funding and resources without discrimination (A/HRC/20/27, paragraphs 64 and 68). The Special Rapporteur reminds the Government of its obligation to ensure that civil society, including human rights defenders, in Tajikistan can carry out their legitimate work free from undue restrictions.
Environment in which these rights are exercised
In relation to the case of Mr. Alexander Sodiqov, the Special Rapporteur reiterates concerns about his alleged arbitrary arrest, incommunicado, detention and enforced disappearance (TJK 4/2014). He expresses concern that the acts perpetrated against him may be due to his human rights work and his legitimate and peaceful exercise of his right to the freedom of association in the context of his research on conflict resolutions and other topics in Tajikistan. He is also concerned about the chilling effect that his arrest may have on other students, scientists and researchers, which may adversely affect the future exercise of the right to the freedom of association in Tajikistan. He notes with appreciation the decision of the authorities to release Mr. Sodiqov on bail, however, expresses concerns that the investigation into the case against him remains ongoing. He stresses that it is the obligation of States to respect and fully protect the rights of all individuals to assemble peacefully and associate freely, online as well as offline (A/HRC/RES/24/5, operational paragraph 2). Moreover, he reaffirms that the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are crucial cornerstones for the possible emergence and sustainability of effective democratic systems.
The Special Rapporteur would be grateful for more information concerning the legal grounds for the arrest and detention of Mr. Sodiqov and information on any investigation or inquiries related to his case.
Response to communication
The Special Rapporteur acknowledges the response of the Government of Tajikistan to his communication sent on 3 May 2016. However, he reiterates his concerns at the amendments adopted to the Law on Public Associations, under which public associations are required to report to the Ministry of Justice on the receipt of “foreign funding” prior to dispensing it.
The Special Rapporteur takes note of the argument presented by the Government in its reply dated 23 June 2016, that access to foreign funding is not guaranteed under article 22 of the ICCPR. However, the Special Rapporteur wishes to reaffirm that access to funding constitutes one of the aspects that enable human rights defenders and non-governmental organizations to carry out their work, and funding restrictions that impede their ability to pursue their activities constitute an interference with the provisions of article 22 of the ICCPR. Furthermore, the Special Rapporteur wishes to recall that under the provisions of article 13 of the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (A/RES/53/144) ‘[e]veryone has the right, individually and in association with others, to solicit, receive and utilize resources for the express purpose of promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms through peaceful means, in accordance with article 3 of the present Declaration’.
Additionally, the scope of protection of the right to freedom of association has been clarified in a number of decisions by the Human Rights Committee, including in communication No. 1274/2004, which provides that the right to freedom of association relates not only to the right to form an association, but also guarantees the right of such an association freely to carry out its statutory activities (para 7.2 of CCPR/C/88/D/1274/2004).
The Special Rapporteur remains concerned that the amendments have the potential to disproportionately affect the work of human rights defenders and their organizations and may have a chilling effect on civil society in Tajikistan.
For the full reports, containing communications, replies and observations for all countries, see the following links: