“Human rights defenders are not the enemy”. Mary Lawlor, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, 9 December 2022
Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (HFHR), International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) and World Organisation against Torture (OMCT) are dismayed at the lengthy prison sentences handed down to several Tajikistani human rights defenders and journalists following politically motivated, non-transparent and unfair trials. They were all convicted on criminal charges reportedly related to participation in a criminal group and extremism, which were initiated in apparent retaliation for their human rights activities and journalistic work around the Tajikistani government’s repressive policies in the restive Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO).
We urge the Tajikistani authorities to:
- Immediately and unconditionally release the human rights defenders and activists convicted on 9 December, as well other individuals who are currently behind bars on charges initiated because of their peaceful exercise of the freedoms of assembly, association and expression including in connection with the events in the GBAO in Tajikistan.
- Undertake to swiftly implement both the preliminary and forthcoming recommendations from the UN Special Rapporteur on the protection of Human Rights Defenders following her visit to Tajikistan in December 2022;
We urge the international community to raise concerns about these convictions and the ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders with the Tajikistani authorities, both publicly and in bilateral meetings. We also urge the international community to take all steps possible to ensure the effective protection of human rights defenders working in the country, as outlined in the EU Guidelines on human rights defenders and in accordance with relevant international human rights standards.
Read the full statement here.