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Open Letter to Major-General Emomali Sobirzoda, Commander of the Ground Forces of Tajikistan, on cases of hazing in military units under his authority

On the occasion of the establishment of the Ground Forces of the Ministry of Defense of Tajikistan twenty-two years ago, we would like to congratulate you by drawing your attention to issues of concern to us, trusting your commitment to continuously improve the quality of the Ground Forces. We would like to urge you to pay particular attention to the issue of hazing and other abuse in the units under your command. Hazing of new recruits is believed to occur frequently and is usually carried out by fellow soldiers or, sometimes, officers. Such abuse often takes place with the consent, acquiescence or approval of officers or other military personnel.

In many cases victims of hazing are afraid to lodge complaints for fear of reprisals and complaints are usually only made in cases with particularly serious consequences, such as death of the victim or serious injuries. Three cases have come to our attention, where servicemen were subjected to hazing or other abuse in units of the Ground Forces in 2015, with a fatal outcome in one case.

As the Commander of the Ground Forces we urge you to declare publicly that hazing is unacceptable and that the perpetrators of such crimes must be brought to justice. We urge you to invite all members of the Ground Forces to consistently lodge complaints when hazing occurs and send a strong message to all staff that this practice has no place in the Ground Forces. We also ask you to ensure that servicemen can submit complaints confidentially in order to protect them from reprisals and that complaints are promptly passed on to Military prosecutors’ offices for investigation.

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