Tajikistan: comprehensive programme is needed to counter torture

On 25 October 2022, a conference “Fight against torture: experience and achievements” was held in Tajikistan, co-organised by the ICJ in collaboration with the Coalition against Torture and Impunity, the Prosecutor General’s Office of Tajikistan and the OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe.

The conference addressed the problem of torture and the need for more effective measures to be taken to prevent it. The participants included representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office, the judiciary, the Ombudsman, the Ministry of Interior, the bar association, national NGOs as well as international speakers.

The need for a comprehensive programme of countering the commission of the crime of torture was stressed by participants at the event. Concerns were raised at impunity for the use of torture and poor investigation of the crime of torture by law enforcement bodies in Tajikistan.

As the ICJ has previously found, torture appears to be a systemic problem in Tajikistan and it has been determined to have been used a series of cases decided by the UN Human Rights Committee against Tajikistan (ICJ, Compilation and Analysis of Views, Tajikistan).

In its report of 2020, Neither check no balance: the judiciary in Tajikistan, the ICJ noted that ‘confessions’ – self-incriminating statements – continue to be used as the primary evidence for convictions. Law-enforcement bodies consider obtaining ‘confessions’ as the primary objective of the investigation. The need to extract a confession which would then serve as the basis of conviction leads to violation of rights of those under investigation. In particular, it incentivizes the use of torture or other forms of ill-treatment or coercion. At the same time, courts are often said to fail to give serious consideration to challenges as to the voluntary nature of confessions.

This practice continues in Tajikistan despite the formal existence of the exclusionary rule for evidence obtained by torture or other violation of human rights, consonance with obligations under the Convention against Torture.


Additional information

In 2020, the ICJ Published a mission report Neither Check nor Balance, the Judiciary in Tajikistan, which examines the institutional and procedural aspects of the organization of the judiciary and the state of its independence in the Republic of Tajikistan.

In 2019, the ICJ published a Compilation and analysis of cases decided by the UN Human Rights Committee concerning the allegation of torture and other forms of ill-treatment (ICCPR articles 7 and 10). The ICJ Concluded in the document that reliance on torture and ill-treatment is entrenched by the tolerance within the justice system for these violations of human rights and the failure to hold perpetrators accountable and provide victims with an effective remedy and reparation.

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