On 12 July 2012, Amnesty International released a reported entitled “Shattered Lives: Torture and Other Ill Treatment in Tajikistan” claiming that people were regularly illegally detained and tortured in the small country. The amount of torture is underreported due to fear of retaliation, according to the brief. Among other civillians, the leadership in Tajikistan has targeted members of Islamic groups in an effort to combat terrorism. Amnesty encouraged Tajikistan to making sweeping reforms and stated Tajik leadership should condemn the use of torture. A central issue, aside from widespread corruption and impunity of security forces; is that police are reportedly rewarded according to the number of cases they solve, inadvertently encouraging ill treatment of detainees.
Some important quotes from the report:
Regarding a 2010 law, reformed this year, that should make torture punishable by up to five years in prison:
While the new Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) that came into force in April 2010 provides a
number of important safeguards against torture, significant gaps in domestic legislation
remain. For example, at the time of writing, domestic law does not guarantee prompt access
to independent medical examinations when allegations of torture are raised. Nor does it
oblige judges to act upon allegations of torture or ill-treatment at custody hearings, resulting
in judges often ignoring allegations of torture, claiming it is not in their remit to investigate
such facts but merely to decide on the legality of detention.
A Washington Post summary details the methods reportedly used in Tajikistan:
“The torture methods used by the security forces are shocking: electric shocks, boiling water, suffocation, beatings, burning with cigarettes, rape and threats of rape,” said Amnesty’s Tajikistan researcher Rachel Bugler. “The only escape is to sign a confession or sometimes to pay a bribe.”
Tajikistan’s leadership has history of despotism. It’s been ruled by Emomali Rakhmon since 1994 as President and 1992 as head of state. Along with a long term record of human rights abuses, an assassination attempt in 1997 resulted in a crackdown on civillians, and the President and his family are known to have large/ownership stakes in many of the country’s main businesses. Rakmon has justified many of his authoritarian policies by saying he is combating terrorism. This has kept aid money flowing from the US, which the Russians try to monetarily offset. Recently, as various Islamic insurgencies have increased throughout the Central Asian Republics, it seems likely that torture and ill treatment will go unchecked as hedging against terrorism takes priority over reform, both domestically and where international donors are concerned.