The ICJ expressed concern at today’s arrest of Fakhriddin Zokirov, a prominent defence lawyer who had represented the former Minister of Industry, Zaid Sayidov.
The former Minister was recently convicted for a number of crimes including polygamy, receiving a bribe, rape, fraud, illegal confinement and sentenced to 26 years of imprisonment.
The ICJ is concerned at reports that the arrest of the lawyer may be related to his active and robust defence of the former Minister in court.
Lawyer Zokirov was arrested by the State Finance Control and Anti-Corruption Agency on charges of fraud in banking transactions, which allegedly took place several years ago.
Two other lawyers who defended the former Minister, Shukhrat Kudratov and Iskhok Tabarov, announced at a press conference that they had recently faced various threats and intimidation in connection with the case.
The lawyers reported that the pressure on them had significantly increased in relation to a lawsuit which they brought against the head of the State Finance Control and Anti-Corruption Agency, Fattokh Sayidov.
They alleged that the head of the Agency threatened that if they did not drop the case, they would “share the dock” with their client, the former Minister.
“Abusive prosecutions of lawyers and threats against them in connection with their work are contrary to international standards on the independence of lawyers and undermine the integrity of the justice system”, Róisín Pillay, Director of the Europe Programme, said today. “In the exercise of their profession, lawyers must remain free from intimidation, harassment, fear and arbitrary prosecution and arrest. The ICJ calls on the authorities of Tajikistan to ensure that lawyers’ integrity is protected, and that the criminal justice system is not misused to intimidate them.”
Under the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, lawyers must not be identified with their clients’ causes, and must be protected against attacks and intimidation, including prosecutions or administrative or other sanctions for action taken in accordance with their recognized professional duties.
Róisin Pillay, Director, Europe Programme, t + 32 273 48 46, roisin.pillay(a)icj.org
Temur Shakirov, Legal Adviser, Europe Programme, t + 41 22 979 38 32, temur.shakirov(a)icj.org
Tajikistan-arrest of lawyer-news-web story-2014-rus (full text in pdf)NewsWeb stories