Imprisonment of human rights lawyers in Tajikistan

Who we wrote to

The president of the Republic of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon.

What’s the issue

We’re concerned about the situation of Buzurgmehr Yorov, a Tajikistani practising lawyer, who has represented members of the Islamist Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) in legal cases.

We understand that Mr Yorov was arrested on 29 September 2015 and charged with fraud and swindling under article 247 of the Criminal Code.

He was detained by court order after his arrest. During his pre-trial detention, additional charges were brought including:

  • arousing national, racial, local or religious hostility
  • public calls to a violent change of the constitutional order
  • public calls to conduct extremist activity

Mr Yorov was sentenced to 21 years’ imprisonment by the Dushanbe City Court. The court also banned him from practising as a lawyer for five years after the end of his prison sentence.

We’re also concerned about another Tajikistani lawyer, Nuridden Makhkamov, who has also represented members of the IRPT and was acting as Mr Yorov’s legal representative.

Mr Makhkamov was arrested on 22 October 2015. He was also initially charged with fraud and swindling, and similar additional charges were added during his pre-trial detention.

We understand that Mr Makhkamov was temporarily placed in solitary confinement after he went on a hunger strike to protest his arbitrary detention.

Mr Makhkamov was convicted on 6 October 2016 and sentenced to 23 years’ imprisonment. He was also banned from practising for five years after the end of his prison sentence.

We understand that both trials took place behind closed doors and were not open to the public.

What we asked for

We asked the relevant authorities to make sure that:

  • the conditions in detention of Mr Yorov and Mr Makhkamov comply with international standards
  • both lawyers can appeal their convictions through an independent, impartial judicial proceeding that’s open to the public and respects due process rules

Timeline

September 2015 – Mr Yorov was arrested, charged and detained before being sentenced to 21 years’ imprisonment

October 2015 – Mr Makhkmov was arrested, charged and detained before being sentence to 23 years’ imprisonment