Torture and other ill-treatment continued. Freedom of expression remained restricted. The authorities failed to effectively prevent and prosecute violence against women and to protect survivors.
There were continued reports of torture and other ill-treatment by law enforcement officers. The common police practice of incommunicado detention before formally opening a criminal case increased the risk of torture and other ill-treatment. Confessions extracted under duress continued to be used as evidence in courts. Victims rarely reported physical abuse by law enforcement officers for fear of repercussions, and impunity remained the rule. Tajikistani human rights groups, lawyers and judges called on the government to include a precise definition of torture, in line with international standards, in national legislation.
Tajikistani and international human rights groups reported that independent media outlets and journalists continued to face criminal and civil law suits for criticizing the government. Pressure on the media increased particularly in the run-up to the parliamentary elections in February and in the aftermath of the September ambush in Rasht district by alleged Islamist militants and former opposition commanders, in which 28 government troops were killed. In September and October the websites of local news agencies and an opposition blog were allegedly blocked by the authorities, and tax inspections allegedly targeted media outlets that had been critical of the authorities in connection with the Rasht events.Top of page
Violence against women remained a serious problem; between one third and half of all women have suffered physical, psychological or sexual violence at the hands of their husbands or other family members at some time during their lives. Despite some initial steps by the government to combat violence against women – such as the establishment of five police stations with specially trained police officers – Tajikistan continued to fall short of its international obligations to protect women from violence in the family. Women’s access to the criminal justice system was still very restricted with inadequate police and judicial response, resulting in massive under-reporting. There were insufficient services to protect the survivors of domestic violence, such as shelters and adequate and safe alternative housing. There was still no functioning nationwide cross-referral system between health workers, crisis and legal aid centres, law enforcement agencies and others for survivors of domestic violence. The draft law “Social and legal protection from domestic violence” – in preparation for several years – had still not been presented to parliament.Top of page