President Imomali Rakhmonov won a third seven-year term as president following elections in November which the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe concluded "lacked genuine choice and meaningful pluralism."
Following international pressure the government allowed access to five independent websites perceived to be critical of the regime and which it had blocked in the run-up to the presidential elections reportedly on security grounds.
Relations with neighbouring Uzbekistan continued to be tense and at least four ethnic Uzbek men were sentenced to long prison terms on charges of espionage.
Torture and ill-treatment
There were continuing reports of unlawful arrests and widespread and routine torture or other ill-treatment by law enforcement officers, several of whom were sentenced to prison terms.
• In May, 12 inmates in Kurgan-Tiube prison went on trial for their alleged part in an incident in August 2005 in which some 100 prisoners reportedly cut their veins in protest at cruel, inhuman and degrading conditions of detention and regular ill-treatment. The authorities claimed it was a riot. Relatives of the inmates held a press conference in which they claimed that some of the men had had their plaster casts and bandages removed for their court appearances. The judge reportedly refused to consider the prisoners' injuries and dismissed their allegations of torture.
• In November the UN Committee against Torture considered Tajikistan's first report and raised concerns about the "numerous allegations regarding widespread routine use of torture and ill-treatment by investigative personnel, particularly to extract confessions to be used in criminal proceedings." It also reported on "the failure of judges to dismiss or return cases for further investigation in instances where confessions were obtained as a result of torture." It was further concerned about the very small number of officials convicted for acts of torture and other ill-treatment.
Death in custody
• Sadullo Marufov, a member of the Islamic Renaissance Party (IRP), died in police custody in May after he was detained for questioning by law enforcement officers in Isfara. Initially the officers claimed that he had committed suicide by jumping from a third floor window. The IRP claimed that an autopsy report indicated that he had been beaten and ill-treated, and alleged that he had been pushed from the window. The general prosecutor's office subsequently announced that following an investigation three officers had been detained.
Detentions and unfair trials
More than 50 alleged members of the banned Islamic opposition party Hizb-ut-Tahrir, including at least 20 women, and 30 alleged members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan were detained. Many were sentenced to long prison terms after unfair trials.
AI country reports/visits
• Commonwealth of Independent States: Positive trend on the abolition of the death penalty but more needs to be done (AI Index: EUR 04/003/2006)