Torture and ill-treatment by law enforcement officers were reported. The location of the burial sites of prisoners sentenced to death and executed in previous years remained secret, subjecting relatives to cruel and inhuman treatment. Independent journalists faced increasing intimidation, including criminal prosecutions, by the authorities. Five Afghan refugees were forcibly returned to Afghanistan.
The ruling People's Democratic Party won a large majority in parliamentary elections in February. The leaders of two opposition parties were banned from standing on the grounds that criminal cases had been opened against them, even though no trial had taken place. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) observed the elections and concluded that they "failed to meet many of the key OSCE commitments for democratic elections".
In September, during his visit to Tajikistan, the UN Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers raised concern about the lack of independence of the judiciary.
Torture, ill-treatment and impunity
There were continuing reports of torture and ill-treatment by law enforcement officers. It appeared that in most cases no investigation was conducted and the perpetrators enjoyed impunity.
The UN Human Rights Committee (HRC), after considering Tajikistan's first report to the Committee, raised concern about the "widespread use of ill-treatment and torture by investigation and other officials to obtain information, testimony or self-incriminating evidence from suspects, witnesses or arrested persons". It also reported on "poor conditions and overcrowding" in places of detention and the "limited access" to penitentiary institutions by civil society and international bodies.
Relatives of people executed before the moratorium on death sentences and executions took effect in 2004 continued to have no right to know where their loved ones were buried. The HRC urged the authorities to "take urgent measures to inform families of the burial sites". It also issued rulings on the cases of three former death row prisoners. In all cases it found serious violations of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and urged Tajikistan to provide appropriate compensation. In the case of Valijon Khalilov, for example, who was executed on 2 July 2001, the HRC ruled that the execution was "in violation of the right to a fair trial". It said Tajikistan was obliged to provide Valijon Khalilov's mother with an appropriate remedy, including to inform her of the location of her son's grave.
Five Afghan refugees – a mother and her four children – were forcibly returned to Afghanistan in September, in violation of Tajikistan's obligations as a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and other human rights treaties. In 2004 they had applied for resettlement; three were subsequently accepted by Canada. In early 2005 the Refugee Status Determination Commission of Tajikistan annulled the mother's refugee status; her appeal against the decision was still pending before Dushanbe city court when the five were detained and then deported.
Trafficking of human beings
Trafficking of human beings remained a grave concern. The HRC urged Tajikistan to "redouble its efforts" in tackling trafficking and "rigorously review the activities of responsible governmental agencies to ensure that no State actors are involved".
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