Tajikistan
30.01.13
Urgent Interventions

Utmost concern about the arbitrary closure of the human rights NGO “Amparo”

TAJIKISTAN: Open Letter to the authoritiesabout the arbitrary closure of the human rights NGO “Amparo”

Attn. President of the Republic of Tajikistan, H.E. Enomali Rahmmon, Tel: +992 372 21 68 00

Minister of Justice, Mr. Mengliev Rustam Shomurodovich, Fax: +99237 221 80 66

Chairman of the Supreme Court, Mr. Nusratullo Abdullaev, Tel: +992372 33 48 21

Cc. State Adviser of thePresident of Tajikistan on Legal Policy, Mr. Juma Dalatov, Tel. / Fax: (+992 37) 2212520

State Adviser of the President of Tajikistan on SocialDevelopment and Public Relations, Mr. SaidmurodSamadovich Fattoev, Tel. / Fax: (+992 37)2212520

Paris-Geneva, January 30, 2013

Re: Utmostconcern about the arbitrary closure of the human rights NGO “Amparo”

Excellencies,

TheObservatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme ofthe International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World OrganisationAgainst Torture (OMCT), hereby expresses its utmost concern about the closureof the Association of Young Lawyers “Amparo”, and calls on the Tajik authorities to overturn the decision andaddress the shortcomings of the legislation on civil society organisations,which currently does not meet international standards for the protection ofhuman rights.

“Amparo” is a human rights organisation foundedin 2005 and a member of the Coalition Against Torture, very active ininvestigating cases of torture and ill-treatment as well as in monitoring andadvocating for the rights of vulnerable groups in Tajikistan.

On October 24,2012, a court of the City of Khujand (North of Tajikistan) headed by JudgeSafarali Kurbonov decided to close down “Amparo”, on grounds that theorganisation had breached several of its legal and administrative obligations,including the provisions of the new Law “On Public Associations”, adopted in2007.

OnJanuary 15, 2013, the Syghd Regional Court confirmed its closure following anappeal lodged by “Amparo” on November 28, 2012.

These rulingsfollow a motion filed on June 29, 2012 by the Ministry of Justice of Tajikistanto liquidate “Amparo”, one day after officials conducted a large audit at theKhujand offices of the organisation without providing any prior notificationnor presenting any written decision of inspection.

In the saidmotion, the Ministry of Justice alleged that “Amparo” had changed its legaladdress without re-registering with the local Department of Justice; that ithad created an official website in contravention with the Law “On PublicAssociations”; that it was carrying out activities outside the Sughd regionwhere it was registered; and that it conducted training sessions on humanrights issues for high school students without any proper licence.

It is to benoted however that all the allegations of the Ministry of Justice appear to begroundless, as “Amparo” representatives did reportedly inform the Tajikauthorities that the organisation's address had changed once more in 2010, andas that they have held all their training sessions in the framework ofagreements with the Ministry of Education and/or the local executiveauthorities. In addition, no provision of the Law “On Public Associations”prohibits them from operating a website and, before it was forcibly closeddown, “Amparo” reportedly had an application for country-wide registrationpending with the Ministry of Justice since July 25, 2012.

We stronglycondemn what we consider as an arbitrary closure of the human rightsorganisation “Amparo”, as well as the conditions in which the court decisionwas issued.

We urge the Tajik authorities to put anend to any act of harassment - including at the judicial level - against“Amparo” and its members, as well as against all human rights defenders inTajikistan, and to conform with the provisionsof the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the GeneralAssembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:

- its Article 1, which states that “everyone hasthe right, individually and in association with others, to promote and tostrive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamentalfreedoms at the national and international levels”,

- its article 5, which states that “everyone hasthe right, individually and in association with others, at the national andinternational levels: (a) To meet or assemble peacefully; (b) To form, join andparticipate in non-governmental organizations, associations or groups; (c) Tocommunicate with non-governmental or intergovernmental organizations.”

- its Article 6 (b) and (c), which states that“Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others […] asprovided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments,freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information andknowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms and [...] to study,discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice,of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and otherappropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters”.

- and itsArticle 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measuresto ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individuallyand in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, defacto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary actionas a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to inthe present Declaration”.

In the hopethat the judicial authorities of Tajikistan will overturn the decision of theSyghd Regional Court and that the authorities will more generally guarantee anenvironment favourable to human rights defenders' activities in the country,

We remain,

SouhayrBELHASSEN GeraldSTABEROCK

FIDH President OMCTSecretary General

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