Tajikistan must balance freedom of religious bodies against coercion by them – UN expert
Largely Muslim Tajikistan should take a balanced approach to religion, ensuring that legislation and policies respect the right to freedom of belief while also protecting the population, especially vulnerable individuals, from harassment by non-State entities in the name of religion, according to an independent United Nations rights expert.
Special Raporteur on freedom of religion or belief Asma Jahangir said at the end of a visit to the former Soviet Central Asian republic, where the UN helped rebuild peace after a civil war with religious factions in the 1990s, that the Government by and large respected the freedoms of all religious communities and individuals.
“However, there are challenges they face and some contentious issues are in the process of being resolved,” she noted in a statement.
“The Special Rapporteur was deeply impressed by the cooperation extended to her by the Government of Tajikistan,” the statement said, adding that she met with various ministers and officials as well as members of various religious associations including the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and lawyers.
She said she trusted that the Government is engaged in seeking the most appropriate approach in dealing with the complex issues. “She hopes that the Government will adopt creative and delicate means to address the pressing matters,” the statement added.
Special Rapporteurs are unpaid experts serving in an independent personal capacity who report to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council. The UN maintains a peacebuilding office in Tajikistan known by its acronym UNTOP.