Tajikistan: "Torture gap still needs to be breached"

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan E. Méndez, concluded after a return mission to Tajikistan that efforts need to be intensified to prevent torture. In a statement issued after his visit to the country earlier this month Méndez noted that “Tajikistan still needs to breach the gap between policies and reality”, urging the government to fully implement its policies for the eradication and prevention of torture.

During the visit, 10-12 February, Méndez held discussions with government and civil society actors and visited a detention facility. The UN expert participated in a one-day round-table discussion, co-sponsored by the APT and several other organisations, including his Anti-Torture Initiative based at the University of Washington’s School of Law. This event in Dushanbe brought together a range of government, civil society and international representatives resulting in a lively exchange on the steps which should be taken to counter abuses from taking place.

On the issue of access to places of detention Méndez argued that “the OPCAT should be ratified as soon as possible, as it would give much greater credibility to any domestic monitoring mechanism put in place in Tajikistan.” Just a month ago the Ombudsperson’s Office and civil society organisations embarked upon a joint program of detention visits, which the UN expert welcomed. 

He also stressed the importance of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which has not had access to places of detention in Tajikistan since 2004. Based on his personal experience from around the world, ICRC access would “result in an instant improvement of conditions of detention.” 

On a positive note, the Special Rapporteur noted in his end of mission statement that he found it satisfying to see that his recommendations were “taken so seriously and that systematic action has been initiated by the Government to implement some of them.” He urged the authorities to continue to do so, including by working more closely with Tajik civil society.