A journalist apparently "disappeared", but was later released from custody. A man suspected of being responsible for the deaths of two people who "disappeared" in 1993 was arrested. At least three death sentences were passed. The government declared a moratorium on carrying out death sentences imposed for crimes connected with the recent civil war. Government troops were taken hostage by the armed forces of the political opposition. Talks aimed at settling the armed conflict between government forces and armed groups supporting the outlawed opposition (see Amnesty International Report 1995) continued during the year. Two further rounds of talks were held in Kazakstan and Turkmenistan, but little progress was made on substantive issues. The cease-fire declared in 1994 remained in place throughout 1995, although there was a serious breakdown in April and intermittent violations by both sides during the rest of the year. The continuing peace talks included discussion about new constitutional arrangements and the convening of a provisional government. However, the government, led by President Imamali Rakhmonov, went ahead in March with elections to a restyled parliament, the Majlis Oliy. Tajikistan acceded to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in January. There was new evidence that remnants of the People's Front of Tajikistan, a paramilitary group linked to the government and believed to be responsible for political killings and "disappearances" in 1992 and 1993, were still active, although outside effective government control. In June and September the southern town of Kurgan-Tyube was wracked by serious armed clashes between two rival army units made up of former People's Front fighters, following the murder of the commander of one of the units. In September an Austrian member of the UN observer mission to Tajikistan (UNMOT) was killed, reportedly in cross-fire, while investigating the armed clashes in Kurgan-Tyube. Mirzo Salimov, a former journalist for an opposition newspaper who had recently returned from self-imposed exile in Russia, was detained in May by uniformed men who forced him into a car at gunpoint. It was initially feared that he had "disappeared", since inquiries by his family to law enforcement agencies failed to elicit any information about his whereabouts. However, three weeks later he was released from the custody of state law enforcement officers after being charged with anti-state crimes. He subsequently left the country. In November police arrested Khoja Karimov, a member of parliament and former People's Front field commander, for the murder of the brothers Saidsho and Siyarsho Shoyev who "disappeared" in 1993 (see Amnesty International Report 1994). At least three people convicted of murder were sentenced to death during the year, one of them for crimes committed during the civil war in 1992. No judicial executions were known to have taken place. In June, at the close of the fourth round of peace talks, government representatives announced a moratorium on the carrying out of death sentences passed on opposition supporters for crimes connected with the civil war, pending the final outcome of peace negotiations. In October opposition insurgents captured over 50 government troops in combat operations in the Tavildera district. Statements by representatives of the opposition leadership indicated that the captured troops were being held hostage to force the government to resume peace talks. Seventeen were released at the end of October, but the fate of the others was unknown at the end of the year. Amnesty International called on the authorities to clarify the whereabouts of Mirzo Salimov and to guarantee his safety. It welcomed the steps taken regarding the "disappearance" of the Shoyev brothers and continued to call for investigations into other reports of extrajudicial executions and "disappearances" during 1992 and 1993. It urged the commutation of all pending death sentences. The organization condemned the hostage-taking by the armed opposition.

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