Head of the Civil Society Coalition against Torture and Impunity in Tajikistan

"The Coalition provides legal assistance to victims of torture, leads strategic litigation, and documents appeals for alleged torture and ill-treatment," informed Nurmahmad Khalilov, Head of the Civil Society Coalition against Torture and Impunity in Tajikistan, speaking at the conference "Combating Torture: Experience and Achievements" on October 25 in Dushanbe.

According to him, documenting complaints allows the Coalition to obtain first-hand information about the situation of torture in the country, and leading strategic litigation allows the Coalition to build sustainable practices in the application of the norms of the legislation on protecting the victims of torture. "In particular, in the last 2 years there were more than 40 appeals on alleged cases of torture (2021 - 24 appeals, 2022 - 16 appeals)," mentioned Nurmahmad Khalilov.

According to the human rights defender, this number is a certain fraction of the actual number of cases. On the one hand, complaints are not properly investigated and, on the other hand, many prefer to remain silent for fear of persecution.

According to Nurmahmad Khalilov, last year the Coalition monitored the implementation of selected recommendations of UN structures on torture and other forms of ill-treatment.

"During the period between 2010 and 2021, Tajikistan submitted its reports to all human rights treaty bodies to the UN Human Rights Committees, as well as under the Universal Periodic Review. The Special Rapporteur on Torture visited the country twice (in 2012 and 2014).

During this period, Tajikistan received more than 1,000 recommendations in the field of human rights, including on various issues of prevention and effective addressing of torture and other forms of ill-treatment, among which:

- unequivocally confirm the absolute prohibition of torture;

- make greater efforts to close the gap between the legislation and practice in the field of torture;

- take effective measures to eradicate and prevent acts of torture and ill-treatment throughout the country, especially when detained in police station, detention center and pretrial detention facilities.

- to provide detainees with basic procedural guarantees from the moment of actual deprivation of liberty, to inform detainees of their rights, and comply strictly to the rules of registration from the moment of actual arrest.

- to ensure a prompt, thorough, and impartial investigation of all allegations of torture and to protect victims and witnesses from any form of persecution and pressure," explained the human rights defender.

The conference was organized by the Civil Society Coalition against Torture and Impunity in Tajikistan together with the Prosecutor General's Office of the Republic of Tajikistan with the assistance of the OSCE Program Office in Dushanbe, International Commission of Jurists and Sigrid Rausing Trust.

The main purpose of the conference was to discuss pressing issues in the area of combating torture and ill-treatment in Tajikistan.

The conference was attended by international experts, representatives of state bodies, law enforcement agencies, courts, the prosecutor's office, the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights in Tajikistan, international organizations and embassies, as well as public organizations, members of the Civil Society Coalition against Torture and Impunity in Tajikistan, and the mass media.