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2015 OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting

2015 OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting
Working Session 8 Rule of Law: Prevention of torture

Torture and ill-treatment rife in the armed forces of Tajikistan

The human rights groups jointly issuing this statement – Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland), International Partnership for Human Rights (Belgium), Norwegian Helsinki Committee — are alarmed about ongoing torture and other forms of ill-treatment, including hazing, in the armed forces in Tajikistan and the serious outcome in several of these cases. Six soldiers died since the beginning of 2014, five of whom served in the Border Guards under the authority of the State Committee on National Security.

The Military Prosecutor’s Office and the Military Court of Tajikistan do not publish comprehensive statistics on complaints, investigations, prosecutions and convictions relating to torture and ill-treatment in the army. The Military Prosecutor’s Office informed the NGO Coalition against Torture that such information is considered a state secret. Since January 2014, the NGO Coalition has documented nine cases of torture and ill-treatment, including hazing, from the Border Guards and three cases from units under the authority of the Ministry of Defence. These 12 cases constitute the tip of the iceberg as victims and families often refrain from complaining for fear of reprisals and to avoid being labeled as “traitors” by their peers and commanding officers. In addition, soldiers often see beatings, kicking and other abuse as a normal feature of everyday army life, although it is prohibited in domestic legislation.

We are concerned that not all investigations conducted by the Military Prosecutor’s Office have been conducted thoroughly, impartially and independently. Commanding officers have been brought to justice in only three of the above mentioned cases, although there was compelling evidence to suggest that senior officers carried responsibility for not preventing, abetting or condoning abuse of soldiers in further cases.

We are also concerned that domestic legislation does not exclude perpetrators of torture or other forms of ill-treatment, including hazing, from benefitting from amnesties. We are aware of three cases in 2014 where perpetrators of torture and other ill-treatment in the army benefitted from such amnesties and had their sentences reduced.

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