Civil Society Coalition against Torture and impunity in Tajikistan
About litigation compensation and campaigns against Torture
Press review for June-July 2014
The most significant media coverage on the prevention of torture and ill-treatment in June and July was the completion of two trials (one in Dushanbe and another - in Khujand), where the defendants – the military servicemen, who had been abusing the young conscripts, in one case with fatal result; Conducting a campaign “Say NO to torture”; and an article urging the authorities to punish those responsible for the death of Isfara resident Ismon Boboev.
On June 2, the “Asia Plus” news agency reported that Dushanbe’s military court started consideration of criminal proceedings instituted against the serviceman of the Tajik Border Troops Usmon Ghayratov, who brutally beat a young soldier Shahbol Mirzoev in the presence of fellow officers.
Shahbol’s lawyer - Abdurahmon Sharipov informed that Usman Gairatov was charged with misuse of powers and violation of army regulations. Along with Gairatov criminal proceedings have been instituted against the paramedic of the military unit, deployed in Rudaki district, Gulraftor Shirinova, who is charged of negligence.On 6 of March, the serviceman of the Tajik Border troops Shahbol Mirzoyev was beaten by the paramedic Usmon Gairatov. As a result, he broke the soldier’s neck and damaged his limbs. Soldier's father had to rescue his son on his own. He sold his house in Asht and on his own expense took him to Russia. On 5 May Shahbol went through the 5-hour surgery on the spine in Krasnogorsk city near Moscow. All expenses related to the operation were covered by the victim’s father. On 18 of May Shahbol Mirzoyev was brought from Moscow to Khujand. According to his father - Nu'mon Mirzoev, doctors successfully performed an operation on the cervical vertebrae of his son, as well as cured the pneumonia that was resulted after a long stationary. It was envisioned to continue the treatment in Udmurtia, but due to lack of money Nu'mon Mirzoyev was forced to bring his son to Khujand.
On 19 of June it was reported that the paramedic of the military unit 2026 of Rudaki district Usmon Gairatov will spend 9 years in the colony. The verdict was announced at the Dushanbe’S Military Court. The court also ruled that Gairatov must pay 8,000 somonis ($1,625) in favor of the state.
The other defendant paramedic Gulraftor Shirinova was found guilty of negligence, violation of army regulations and patrols in garrison and according to the court’s decision shall pay 15% of her earnings to the state within 1.5 year.
The second case of “hazing” that resulted in soldier’s death, occurred in Khujand. On 5 June Radio “Ozodi” reported that the case of another soldier’s death who allegedly “choked on a piece of bread”, sent to Khujand military court.
Sughd military prosecutor office completed investigation against Farrukh Davlatov, a junior sergeant who was charged of crime under Article 391, part 2, paragraph “a” (misuse and abuse of power) of the Criminal Code. The case was submitted to the Military Tribunal of Khujand for further consideration.
On 20 May, while confirming this information to radio “Ozodi” Zafar Nizomov investigator of Khujand military prosecutor's office, informed that on April 17, after the dinner sergeant Farrukh Davlatov requested three young army recruits, including Akmal Davlatov to go to a room where he promptly began beating them. After getting hit in the stomach, Akmal Davlatov, choked on a piece of bread he had not fully digested and died on his way to a hospital.
“The case of beating a young soldier Akmal Davlatov by a junior sergeant Farrukh Davlatov once again proves the existence of such problems as “hazing” in the Armed Forces of Tajikistan, while the authorities are trying their best to hide it”- writes “Ozodi”.
On 19 June the website of the NGO Coalition against Torture in Tajikistan www.notorture.tj reported that Khujand military court sentenced Farrukh Davlatov to 9 years of imprisonment.
The convict will spend his term in the colony of strict regime. The verdict was made under the article 391 part 3, paragraph “a” (abuse of power, abuse of official authority or dereliction on imprudence entailed death of a person) of the Criminal Code.
Dilafruz Samadova, a lawyer of the “Office of Civil Freedoms”, who represented Akmal Davlatov’s father in the court, informed that: “During the trial it was revealed that the main reason of torture, cruel and inhuman treatment in the army is the low awareness of the servicemen about their duties and rights, and particularly weak organization of the work on the study of the Internal Service of the Armed Forces of the RT”.
Both these cases formed the basis of another photo exhibition “Say NO to torture!” held by the NGO Coalition against Torture in Tajikistan on June 26, on the International Day for the Protection of Victims of Torture.
As it was reported by several media outlets – “Asia-Plus” Radio “Ozodi”, “Ozodagon”, Tojnews.tj and others, the organizers presented three new stories about young soldiers of the Tajik border troops who became victims of abuse of their senior colleagues. The photo exhibition included the story of the crippled and bedridden soldier Shahbol Mirzoyev, as well as Akmal Davlatov and Maqsood Nosirov who died as a result of the army arbitrariness. And, of course, visitors were able to re-familiarize themselves with photo stories, which are based on high-profile cases of Hamzaali Ikromzoda, Khurshed Bobokalonov, Bahromiddin Shodiev, Safarali Sangov, Ismoil Bachajonov and Dilshodbek Murodov who died during arrest or in custody. More details of the exhibition can be seen in the photo gallery, video and multimedia sections of www.notorture.tj.
According the media reports, on the same day, June 26, the Coalition of human rights organizations of the region urged the Governments of the five Central Asian states publicly and unequivocally condemn torture and reaffirm their positions with subsequent actions.
In their joint statement, the civil society organizations noted that torture continues to remain a pressing issue in Central Asia. “Torture is widely used throughout the region, and impunity for torture is ubiquitous. Human rights defenders in the region annually fix hundreds of cases of torture or other forms of ill-treatment”- said in a statement.
It was also noted that in all Central Asian countries torture and ill-treatment take place primarily in the first hours of detention when detainees are often held incommunicado, without access to a lawyer and medical staff. However, persons held in detention centers and prisons, also report of torture and other ill-treatment at a later stages.
The statement authors also mentioned that NGOs are aware of many cases when people had died in the detentions centers, police stations, while their families had to seek justice for years. They recalled that on 27 June, 2014 was the fifth anniversary of the death of Khurshed Bobokalonov. Five years ago, the oncologist left his home in Dushanbe to celebrate his 33rd birthday with the friends. On the way home his friends stopped by the officers of the Somoni district Police station. They were taken on a police car. The same night, the family was informed that Khurshed Bobokalonov died. An autopsy conducted on 28 June 2009, showed that he died of suffocation due to blocking the airway vomit. Medical experts found many bruises on his body that could be caused by the use of heavy blunt objects shortly before his death. Persistent efforts of his mother and lawyers to find out what happened and who was responsible for his death, did not resulted in anything. The investigation was closed and reopened several times. His mother realized that the authorities stubbornly taking steps to find the culprit and refuse to cooperate with her, without providing information on the investigation and answering letters from her lawyer. Until today, no one has been held accountable for the death of Khurshed Bobokalonov.
On 28 June the website of the news agency “Asia-Plus” published the article «20 years of fight against torture», which analyzes the achievements and unsolved problems in Tajikistan for 20 years after signing of the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. ThearticleincludesatimelinetodisplaythechronologyofeventsrelatedtoissuesoffreedomfromtortureinTajikistan.
The article talks on issues such as the policy in the field of human rights, changes in legislation, access to closed institutions, impunity, compensation for victims of torture and their relatives, independent investigation of the problem and statistics, training of forensic experts, military tyranny.
On 6 June, the website of the NGO Coalition against Torture in Tajikistan NoTorture.Tj informed about the training on the standards of Istanbul Protocol conducted for psychiatrists and forensic specialists of the Republican Centre of Forensic Medical Examination, judges, prosecutors and lawyers.
During the four days, participants were divided into two groups (doctors and lawyers) to familiarize with the basic facts of investigation of torture, as well as international standards for conducting forensic examination of the alleged victims of torture and documenting cases of torture.
The training was organized by the representatives of the organization “Physicians for Human Rights”, who participated in developing of the Istanbul Protocol. These kinds of trainings were also held in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and other countries where the Istanbul Protocol standards successfully implemented in legislation and applied in practice.
On 28 June Radio Ozodi reported that relatives of a student from Dushanbe accused police officer who, along with five subordinates harshly beat a young man when he was selling watermelons.
Parents of Kanoatzoda Sorboni Tagdirsho, a fourth-year student of Technological University, informed that their son was severely beaten by an officer of the Firdavsi district police station Nizom Barotov and his subordinates.
The officer of the State Service for Supervision of the Education sector of the Ministry of Education of RT Tagdirsho Tagdirov in an interview with Radio Ozodi reported that his son Sorboni Tagdirsho was selling watermelons in 33 neighborhood when “on 24 June, about 10 P.M., was beaten with brass knuckles by officer of the Firdavsi district police station Nizom Barotov and his subordinates.
“Law enforcement officials, while using torture, do realize that they will receive either a very mild punishment, or not get it in principle” - said the Tajik activist Nigina Bakhrieva in an interview with Russian portal Lenta.ru, the agency Ozodagon informs.
She informed about why the ill-treatment in Central Asia remains unpunished, and what measures could change the situation.
"The article on “torture” itself is a very new thing in the Criminal Code and is implemented since summer of 2012. During this period, four criminal cases had been filed under this article. However the results are certainly not encouraging. Because in one case, a juvenile offender was sentenced to seven years' imprisonment, which is not adequate to what he did.
The court also ruled that he pays off financial compensation – a small amount, equivalent to $340, though quite a step forward, as it was the first case on torture, considered by the Tajik courts. At the moment the lawyers are preparing a claim for non-pecuniary damage.
The second case under the “torture" article resulted in two and a half imprisonment of the crime perpetrator, although later the sentence was changed to two years’ probation. As such, the criminal avoided the punishment. In a third case the offender was sentenced to one year imprisonment and in fourth case it was sent back for further investigation – where the article on “torture” was changed to “arbitrary detention”.
In general such trend leads to a climate of impunity. Since all law enforcement officials are quite confident that they will receive a very mild punishment for using torture, or won’t get it at all. Lawyers from different organizations, members of our coalition carry sufficiently large number of cases where the victims died as a result of torture.
We did manage to achieve court sentences on some cases, while it is not sufficient. In other cases, proceedings are instituted, though the cases consideration takes for years and mostly left uncompleted, or even worse we are refused to institute criminal proceedings on the grounds that the allegations of torture have not been confirmed”- noted Ms. Bakhrieva.
On 8 July the “Asia-Plus” news agency reported that the Tajik border guards paid compensation for the death of soldier. The information indicates that the General Directorate of Border Troops of the State Committee for National Security RT paid compensation to the parents of the missing soldier Shukhrat Rakhimov, who was joined the Tajik army in 1997 and went missing.
The next day, 9 of July, Radio “Ozodi” published an article about the mysterious death of the soldier at Aini military airfield. “Parents of Juraboy Khomidov, a Tajik soldier died on Sunday, 7 of July under mysterious circumstances at Aini military airfield, require investigation into the circumstances of his death” - said Ozodi.
Akram Kholikov, father of the deceased soldier, believes that his son had no reason for committing suicide.
The same day, 9 of July the "Asia-Plus" news agency reported that the military units of the Ministry of Defense of Tajikistan up to 70% are equipped with video cameras. This was reported to “Asia Plus” by the Head of the Press Service of the Ministry of Defense of Tajikistan Faridoon Mahmadaliev.
He mentions that according to the Government’s decision, all Ministry of defense’s institutions - from the central unit to the military units – should be equipped with surveillance cameras by 2015.
According Mahmadaliev there will be cameras on the whole territory of military units - at the entrance, in the yard, in the kitchen, dormitory, gym. In addition, the cameras are installed around the perimeter along the walls to watch parts of the territory.
Servicemen have already appraised the role of cameras in military units, and hope that their presence will contribute to vanishing of “hazing” in the army.
“Once we have been connected to surveillance cameras, we are treated much better and completely forgotten about “hazing”- said one of the soldier of the border troops.
On 24 of July, the Amnesty International expressed its concerns that recently released young scientist Alexander Sodikov continues to face a prison sentence.
Ozodagon news agency, citing a statement the organization, said that Alexander Sodiqov was a prisoner of conscience who had been detained solely for exercising his right to freedom of expression, as he had been undertaking legitimate academic research leading to publication for public information.
According to Amnesty International, people detained in SNCS facilities are at particular risk of human rights violations including torture and other ill-treatment, and that access to lawyers of their own choice is often denied.
On 25 of July the “Asia-Plus” news agency again reminded the authorities that those responsible for the death of Isfara resident Ismon Boboev are still free. The author of the article “Case Ismon Boboev: criminals are still free” recalls that in February 2010, a citizen of the Russian Federation and a native of Isfara Ismonov Boboev died under torture at the Sughd Department for Combating Organized Crime of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. “It is the fifth year, but those responsible for the death Ismonov Boboev still not brought to justice” - the newspaper notes.
“Ismon Boboev came from Russia to check on his parents and take his little daughter, who was staying with them, but he has stayed with his family only a week since he was taken by the police on suspicion of involvement in an illegal group. Which one? This is still unknown ... “- the article says.
The lawyers of Boboev’s family - Abdurahmon Sharipov and Sergei Romanov told “Asia-Plus”, that they have no access to the case materials ever since they entered the case.
- Attorneys had no chance to get acquainted with the materials of the criminal case, thus we have no information about which investigation activities were carried out, - says Romanov. – It is worrisome that it is been for 5 years since the case was opened, it has twice suspended, allegedly due to illness of the suspects, even by the General Prosecutor's Office (twice!), and we, the lawyers, proved in court that criminal case was suspended illegally. And now another suspension. We have already informed the UN Committee on Human Rights on this fact and we are going to once again challenge the illegal actions of the prosecutor's office relating to the suspension of the criminal investigation - said the lawyer.
"Romanov drew attention to the fact that both at national and international level, there have been calls for a thorough investigation into the death of a detainee Ismon Boboev, but to no avail” - the author writes.