WARSAW, September 27, 2012, Asia-Plus  - The problem of use of torture against detainees and inmates in Tajikistan was among topics of this year’s OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw.

In a report released at the meeting, Sergey Romanov, director of the Independent Center for Human Rights, noted on September 26 that serious violations of rights of persons charged with terrorism such as illegal detention, use of torture, and restricted access of lawyers to detainees are observed in Tajikistan.  According to him, many of them have been subjected to torture during the arrest and preliminary investigation.

He said that amendments made to the country’s anti-terror law also evoked serious concern.

According to the amendments made to the law, the list of persons suspected of being involved in terrorism is prepared by the State Committee for National Security (SCNS) and the SCNS now has the right to frozen their accounts and arrest their movable property and real estate.

Romanov says this creates danger that human rights may be restricted arbitrarily for political or other reasons.  

Dwelling on the case of 53 people convicted for involvement in a deadly 2010 car bombing, Romanov noted that they had been tortured and beaten while in detention.

We will recall that that the Sughd regional court on December 23, 2011 convicted 53 people for involvement in a deadly 2010 car bombing, declaring 43 of the defendants members of the outlawed Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU).  The court said in a statement that five of those convicted will spend the rest of their lives in prison, while the 48 others received jail sentences of eight to 30 years.  The trial''s proceedings were not public.

Torture and electric shock were reportedly used during interrogations.

In his report, Tajik human rights activist offers to analyze amendments made to the country’s anti-terror in order to bring the law into compliance with international standards and work out mechanisms and procedures of assessment of religious literature recognized as extremist.  According to him, counter-extremism and counter-terrorism bodies must work out common approaches to investigation of terrorist and extremist acts.

The OSCE Office and institutions of civil society must regularly monitor trials of persons accused with acts of terrorism and extremism, Romanov added.

Meanwhile, several OSCE participating States, including the United States, expressed concern about continuous use of torture in Tajikistan.

Some 1,000 government representatives, experts and human rights activists are attending the two-week meeting in Warsaw, which kicked off on September 24.  The meeting reviews the progress states have made in putting their international commitments into practice.

In addition to regular working sessions, more than 50 side events are focusing on specific human rights concerns and country situations.  Special sessions at the event are focusing on the empowerment of Roma women; freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief; and the rights of persons belonging to national minorities.