Covering events from January-December 2001

Republic of Tajikistan
Head of state: Imomali Rakhmonov
Head of government: Akil Akilov
Capital: Dushanbe
Population: 6.1 million
Official language: Tajik
Death penalty: retentionist

At least 74 people were sentenced to death and at least five men were executed. There were reports of torture and ill-treatment of detainees. The government put on hold a plan to remove Afghan refugees from Dushanbe. Tajikistan continued to keep its borders closed to those fleeing fighting in Afghanistan.


The level of political violence remained high throughout the year. Among prominent politicians assassinated in 2001 were the Deputy Interior Minister, a presidential adviser on foreign policy, and the Minister of Culture.

In June, at least 19 people were taken hostage in two separate incidents by former commanders of the United Tajik Opposition (UTO). The UTO had fought against government forces during the Tajik civil war that formally ended in 1997. The former UTO commanders demanded the release of UTO supporters they believed were held in custody on fabricated charges. The hostages were released unharmed a week later. On 22 June, government forces launched a retaliatory military attack against former UTO fighters in the outskirts of Dushanbe. There were allegations that civilians were killed in the attack.

Tajikistan offered the USA and its allies the use of its airspace and military bases for military attacks in Afghanistan.

Despite repeated calls throughout the year to open Tajikistan's border with Afghanistan to civilians fleeing fighting in Afghanistan, the border remained closed.

Death penalty

At least 74 people were reportedly sentenced to death in 2001. Five executions were confirmed, but the real figure was believed to be much higher. Two death sentences were known to have been commuted in 2001; at least 51 appeals for clemency were reportedly turned down by the President. The authorities failed to publish comprehensive statistics on the use of the death penalty.

There were reports that some of those sentenced to death had not received fair trials; some alleged that they had been tortured and ill-treated in pre-trial detention. No investigations were known to have been carried out into these allegations.

  • Gaybullojon Saidov was reportedly executed on 4 April despite a request from the UN Human Rights Committee that he not be executed while the Committee was examining his case. Gaybullojon Saidov's co-defendant, Andrey Rebrikov, was reportedly executed the same day. Both men had been sentenced to death by the military board of the Supreme Court of Tajikistan on 24 December 1999, after being convicted of supporting former Popular Front commander and warlord Makhmud Khudoyberdiyev who had allegedly tried to seize power in one area in 1998. There were reports that Gaybullojon Saidov was not allowed to choose his legal counsel or to meet his lawyer regularly, and that he was ill-treated in pre-trial detention.
Afghan refugees

Harassment and ill-treatment

A number of Afghan refugees alleged that they were beaten by police, in many cases reportedly to extort bribes. Several refugees were reportedly detained and ill-treated after they complained or sought to complain about police brutality. Fear of police retaliation reportedly stopped eyewitnesses from giving testimony to the relevant authorities in a number of cases.


An order to remove Afghan refugees from Dushanbe by 31 July was put on hold. In July 2000, the President had decreed that refugees were not permitted to live in a number of towns and regions of Tajikistan to "ensure security and public order." Following the decree, Dushanbe's mayor had originally ordered all refugees to leave the city by 31 July 2001. There were concerns that access to employment, education and housing would be difficult for relocated refugees and that the government might not be able to ensure their safety.

AI country reports/visits

  • Concerns in Europe, January-June 2001: Tajikistan (AI Index: EUR 01/003/2001)

AI delegates visited Tajikistan in June.

This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.