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Startseite Urgent Actions 2020 02 Journalist jailed and at risk of torture
UA 017/20
Tajikistan
Abgeschlossen am 25. März 2020
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Journalist jailed and at risk of torture

AI-Index: EUR 60/1808/2020

Independent journalist Daler Sharipov was arrested on 28 January and is held in pre-trial detention in Tajikistan’s capital Dushanbe on trumped up charges of «inciting religious discord». Daler Sharipov is being denied access to his lawyer and is at risk of torture. He is a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression, and must be released immediately and unconditionally.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Daler Sharipov is a well-known journalist in Tajikistan who has covered issues that range from human rights violations to religious freedom. He worked for the independent newspaper Ozodagon until its closure in 2019 after years of harassment by the authorities.

Article 189 of the Criminal Code, under which Daler Sharipov has been charged, uses a very broad definition of «extremism» and is often used by the government against its critics, including lawyers, political activists and journalists. It carries a prison sentence of between five and 12 years. Those imprisoned under Article 189 included two prisoners of conscience. Khairullo Mirsaidov, an independent journalist currently in political exile, was detained on 5 December 2017 after publishing an open letter addressed to the President of Tajikistan detailing corruption of local authorities. He spent 9 months in detention (https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/08/tajikistan-release-of-independent-journalist-a-rare-victory-for-freedom-of-expression). The other prisoner of conscience that was imprisoned under Article 189 was human rights lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov. He was found sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2015 under several charges including under Article 189 in a case believed to have been in retaliation of his work as a lawyer in cases of individuals associated with the political opposition. In 2019 the sentence was reduced to 22 years as part of mass amnesty (https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/eur60/6266/2017/en/).

The State Committee for National Security (SNCS) is one of Tajikistan’s law enforcement agencies which has the authority to investigate most serios crimes, including crimes against the state, conduct secret surveillance and recruit secret informers. Over the years, its work has been marred by numerous allegations of abusive practices and serious human rights violations, including the use of torture.

In 2019, the UN Human Rights Committee expressed its concern about «Harassment of independent journalists and media workers for critically reporting on State policies and on other matters of public interest, including through […] prosecutions on allegedly trumped-up charges», and called on Tajikistan «Ensure the effective protection of independent journalists and media workers against any form of intimidation and refrain from using civil and criminal provisions, including the provisions on extremism, as well as other regulations, as a tool to suppress critical reporting on matters of public interest.»

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