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UN human rights chief urges Tajikistan to take further steps on access to justice

UN human rights chief urges Tajikistan to take further steps on access to justice

Louise Arbour
Tajikistan must take active steps to ensure there is wider access to justice and it should also allow local and international monitors to visit places of detention, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said today after concluding official talks in her visit to the country, the second leg of her four-nation trip to Central Asia.

Ms. Arbour met with senior Tajik Government officials, including President Emomali Rakhmon, Foreign Minister Hamrokhon Zarifi and Deputy Internal Affairs Minister Rauf Yousoupov, during several days of talks in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital.

She also spoke with Supreme Court Chairperson Nusratullo Abdulloev, Justice Minister Bakhtyor Khudoyorov and Deputy Prosecutor-General Abdusami Dadabaev, according to a statement issued by her office (OHCHR).

During these meetings Ms. Arbour discussed Tajikistan’s ongoing reforms of its justice system, particularly the areas of law enforcement, criminal procedures and the independence of the judiciary.

The High Commissioner described access to justice as “a major challenge that needs to be addressed in a participatory manner and in compliance with international standards,” and called on the Government to implement the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers, Leandro Despouy, after his visit in 2005.

Ms. Arbour also encouraged the Government to provide greater access for human rights monitors, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to Tajikistan’s places of detention, and suggested that the country consider ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, which contains a framework for monitoring places of detention.

Noting that Tajikistan has furnished reports required under six of the key human rights instruments it has ratified, Ms. Arbour called on the Government to take steps to ensure that the recommendations made by the experts who reviewed them are fully implemented.

The High Commissioner also held meetings with Vladimir Sorokov, the Head of the UN Tajikistan Office of Peacebuilding (UNTOP), as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the diplomatic corps, political parties and civil society groups.

Ms. Arbour urged the Government to “engage in a continuous dialogue” with civil society groups and opposition parties and to “ensure democratic space for their activities.”

She wraps up her visit to Tajikistan on Sunday and then heads to Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan as part of her efforts to increase OHCHR’s efforts in Central Asia. The first leg of her 11-day trip took her to Kyrgyzstan.