Tajikistan should take urgent action to ensure the protection of Buzurgmehr Yorov, a lawyer serving a 28-year sentence in prison, following his conviction being based on clearly improper charges related to the defense of his clients, the ICJ said today.
The ICJ is aware that Bugurgmehr Yorov has been subjected to acts amounting to torture or other ill-treatment.
The responsible authorities must ensure that such ill-treatment immediately ceases and that allegations that Buzurgmehr Yorov’s rights that have been violated are promptly and thoroughly investigated by an independent body.
Anyone responsible for violations of his rights must be held accountable and brought to justice, as required under Tajikistan law as well as international human rights treaties to which Tajikistan is a party.
Buzurgmekhr Yorov was arrested two years ago on 28 September 2015, on charges of “fraud” and “forgery of documents.”
Later, he was accused of violating three more articles of the Criminal Code, including in relation to alleged “public calls for extremist activity.”
On 6 October 2016, The Dushanbe City Court sentenced Yorov to 23 years imprisonment in a strict regime prison.
In March this year, Yorov was sentenced to an additional two years’ deprivation of liberty for “contempt of court and insulting the representative of power.”
In August 2017, he received a further three years sentence on charges of “insulting the president.”
On 27 September 27 2017, Hurinniso Ishokova, mother of Buzurgmehr Yorov, obtained permission to visit her son in a pre-trial detention facility, for the first time in nine months.
Following the visit, she alleged that her son had been systematically beaten by prison staff during the whole period of his detention, and that in the last month the beatings had intensified.
She also said that at an unspecified time during his detention Buzurgmehr Yorov had been admitted to the hospital at the pre-trial facility.
After several days of treatment, he was again sent back and the beatings by prison staff resumed.
According to his mother, these beatings were accompanied by insults, humiliation and threats. Reportedly, on three recent occasions Buzurgmkhar Yorov was placed in a punishment cell for several days.
On September 28, 2017 the head of the pre-trial facility rejected all claims that Buzurgmkhar Yorov had been subjected to torture or other ill-treatment.
The ICJ has, on a number of occasions, expressed its serious concerns over the arrest and conviction of Buzurgmehr Yorov and other lawyers in Tajikistan.
The ICJ is concerned that Buzurgmehr Yorov’s conviction may constitute a reprisal for his defense work in high-profile political trials in connection with his representation of thirteen leaders of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT).
Tajikistan is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the UN Convention against Torture (CAT) both of which enshrine the absolute prohibition on torture or other cruel inhuman and degrading treatment, and require that allegations of such ill-treatment should be subject to independent, thorough and prompt investigation, and that perpetrators of crimes of torture should be brought to justice.
According to UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, lawyers “shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards and ethics.” (Principle 16(c)).
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