A court’s decision on October 24, 2012 to close a leading human rights organization in Tajikistan is a serious blow to the country’s civil society and should be reconsidered in line with Tajikistan’s international obligations to uphold the freedom of association, Human Rights Watch said today. The group, the Association of Young Lawyers “Amparo,” investigates torture and serves as an advocate for the rights of army conscripts and other vulnerable groups. The rights group was shut down on what appear to be minor charges.
“This case has appeared politically motivated and devoid of substance from the beginning,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “It is a transparent attempt to silence voices working on critically important issues such as torture and the rights of military recruits and a major step backward for human rights in Tajikistan.”
A court in Tajikistan’s northern city of Khujand granted a motion by the Justice Ministry to shut down Amparo, ruling that it was operating without a proper license. Justice Ministry officials alleged that Amparo had changed its office location without registering its new address with the ministry. The officials also said that Amparo was unlawfully operating a website, conducting activities outside of the northern Sughd region, the area where Amparo was originally registered, and holding unauthorized training for high school students on human rights issues, including the rights of army conscripts to be free of torture and ill-treatment.