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DUSHANBE (TCA) — The European Union and Tajikistan on October 12 held their ninth Human Rights Dialogue in Dushanbe. The Dialogue was an opportunity to discuss human rights matters in an open and honest manner, the Delegation of the European Union to Tajikistan said.

The space for the work of civil society organisations in Tajikistan has become more restricted, for instance with regard to administrative inspections. The Tajik government should better involve NGOs in the legislative process relating to the new draft law on non-commercial organisations and the draft civil code, the Delegation said.

All participants concurred that there has been good progress in the area of women’s rights, such as the prevention of domestic violence. The European Union also expressed its appreciation for the active work of Mr Alizoda, the Tajik Ombudsman for Human Rights, across a wide range of issues.

Significant efforts have been made by the Tajik government to prevent torture and ill treatment. However, shortcomings remain, and the European Union raised specific torture cases including in the Tajik military, pre-trial detention, and semi-closed and closed institutions. The Tajik government must review the case of imprisoned defense lawyer Mr Buzurgmehr Yorov and arrange for a visit of the monitoring group under the Ombudsman. The European Union expects the Tajik authorities to ensure that no pressure is exerted on family members of the political opposition, including those living abroad.

Yorov was a lawyer for 13 jailed members and leaders of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, which President Rahmon's government labeled a terrorist organization and outlawed in 2015, RFE/RL reported. In October last year, Yorov was sentenced to 23 years in prison after a court convicted him of calling for the government's overthrow and inciting social unrest. In mid-March, Tajikistan's Supreme Court found Yorov guilty of contempt of court and insulting a government official and extended his prison term by two years.

The European Union drew attention to the critical findings of the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression following his visit to Tajikistan in March 2016, and urged the Tajik government to take concrete measures to lift restrictions on the media and independent journalists. The European Union similarly raised questions concerning the freedom of religion and belief.

Finally, the European Union welcomed the renewal of the OSCE’s mandate in Tajikistan, and stressed the importance of the OSCE’s work in all three dimensions – politico-military, economic and environmental, and human dimensions - in all regions of the country.

The European Union was represented at the Dialogue by Toivo Klaar, Head of Central Asia Division, European External Action Service, and the government of Tajikistan by Abdujabbor Sattorzoda, Head of Human Rights Guarantees Department of the Executive Office of the President of Tajikistan.

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