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Tajikistan 2023

The rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, association and expression were further curtailed. The authorities continued to target human rights defenders, independent journalists, bloggers and other dissenters for arbitrary detention and imprisonment after unfair trials. The crackdown on Ismaili religious practices intensified. Torture and other ill-treatment remained widespread. Discrimination and marginalization of the Pamiri and Roma/Jughi communities continued.


The border with Kyrgyzstan remained closed as a result of clashes in 2021 and 2022.

Widespread power outages in various regions and rising prices continued to be major concerns for the public.

International human rights groups remained effectively barred from Tajikistan. This, and severe reprisals against local human rights monitors, greatly constrained information gathering.

Freedom of expression

The few remaining independent media outlets, human rights defenders and bloggers were forced to exercise self-censorship, or risk politically motivated prosecutions.

The authorities continued to crackdown on the independent media outlets that were critical of the government. In July the news portal Pamir Daily News and the website New Tajikistan 2, which was affiliated to the arbitrarily banned opposition Group 24, were banned as “extremist organizations”. This label implies the risk of criminal liability for individuals inside Tajikistan who cooperate with such media outlets.

On 26 May, Khurshed Fozilov, a journalist who had reported on social issues in Zerafshan valley, was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for alleged participation in the activities of prohibited organizations after a closed trial which took place in a detention facility.

Exiled dissidents were also targeted through intimidation of their families in Tajikistan. Journalists Anora Sarkorova and Rustami Joni, who reported on human rights violations, were put under pressure after their relatives reportedly faced threatening messages, criminal proceedings, intimidation and interrogation.

Freedom of assembly

No major protests were reported since the brutal suppression of demonstrators in the Rushan district of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast (GBAO) in May 2022. On the first anniversary of that crackdown, the authorities allegedly suppressed physical gatherings and monitored online activities in commemoration of the victims.

Relatives of members of the opposition diaspora protesting abroad also faced reprisals. According to Human Rights Watch some 50 family members in Tajikistan were detained and questioned after their relatives held protests during President Emomali Rahmon’s visit to Germany in September. Tajikistan’s security agencies reportedly also intimidated diaspora activists protesting Abdullohi Shamsiddin’s deportation (see below) by putting pressure on their relatives in Tajikistan.

Freedom of association

The operating environment for NGOs remained severely restrictive. After the crackdown in GBAO, five NGOs were shut down by court decisions for their purported links to criminal groups. Among them was the Lawyers’ Association of Pamir whose director, the lawyer and human rights defender Manuchehr Kholiknazarov, had been sentenced to 16 years’ imprisonment in 2022 following an unfair trial.1 Hundreds of NGOs across the country were informally coerced by security agencies or authorities to “voluntarily” suspend their activities or dissolve themselves.

The authorities also continued to defame informal organizations in GBAO as criminal groups.

Freedom of religion and belief

In April, President Rahmon reportedly signed a decree which allowed the authorities to bury the bodies of individuals killed in alleged “anti-terrorist operations” in unmarked graves in places chosen by the state and not revealed to the relatives, ignoring religious rites.

The crackdown on the religious practices by Ismailis, a religious minority from GBAO, which had gained traction in 2022 with the destruction of religious symbols, the closing of places of worship and a ban on religious festivals, intensified. The authorities continued penalizing collective prayer in private homes, threatening prosecution against religious educators, confiscating religious education literature and reportedly attempting to replace specific practices with those followed by the Sunni Muslim majority.

Arbitrary detention and unfair trials

Arbitrary detention and unfair trials remained common. On 23 January, several special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council expressed concern about the overly broad definition of terrorist organizations in Tajikistan’s legislation. Charges related to alleged terrorism made possible the application of exceptional powers, emergency measures and restrictions on due process.

Tajikistani citizens targeted by the authorities abroad and forcibly returned to Tajikistan faced imprisonment following unfair trials. On 18 January, Germany deported Abdullohi Shamsiddin, an émigré closely related to several leaders of the arbitrarily banned Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan. According to unofficial sources, after arrival in Tajikistan he was subjected to enforced disappearance and held in solitary confinement by the State Committee for National Security. On 29 March, a court in the capital, Dushanbe, sentenced Abdullohi Shamsiddin in a closed trial to seven years’ imprisonment for “public calls for the violent change of the constitutional order”.2

In July the prison sentence of human rights lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov was extended by 10 years. His sentence, starting in 2016, of 28 years’ imprisonment under false charges for representing members of the arbitrarily banned Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, had previously been reduced by 10 years.

On 29 September, Nizomiddin Nasriddinov, an activist who had cooperated with the banned Group 24, was reportedly sentenced to eight and a half years in prison on similar charges after he had been forcibly returned to Tajikistan by Belarus on 8 January. In neither this nor the above case was evidence or official information about the trial made public.

Torture and other ill-treatment

Torture and other ill-treatment remained widespread. They were reportedly used by various security agencies, particularly the State Committee for National Security and the so-called Sixth Department of the Ministry of the Interior, as a means of extracting “confessions” and incriminating others. Methods used allegedly included sticking needles under nails, electric shocks, beating, sexual violence, sleep deprivation, suffocation with plastic bags and injection of drugs.

Abdukakhkhor Rozikov died in police custody in the city of Kulob on 2 January. His death was widely attributed to torture and there were photographs and videos of his body corroborating this allegation. In a rare move to hold perpetrators accountable, three former police officers were each sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment on 25 July for their involvement in his death.

Prisoners continued to report abuse, including beatings, lack of access to food and water, and cold and wet conditions within cells. Many prisoners allegedly suffered from tuberculosis without receiving adequate medical treatment.



In April, the CERD Committee expressed concern at the marginalization of and discrimination against the Pamiris, an ethnic and religious minority mainly residing in GBAO. Although Tajikistan had adopted a Law on Equality and Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination in 2022, the Pamiris were not protected by the legislation as the authorities denied that they were an ethnically or linguistically distinct group. The authorities continued to forcefully assimilate the Pamiri population, suppressing the use of Pamiri languages and the assertion of Pamiri identity in state institutions, schools, the media, artistic performances and public spaces.


The CERD Committee also emphasized the need for a comprehensive strategy to address marginalization and media bias against the Roma/Jughi community. Structural discrimination was particularly evident in education, with low Roma/Jughi enrolment.

Right to a healthy environment

Tajikistan relied on international finance assistance to meet its climate goals, and projects to support adaptation to climate change were mainly driven by international organizations. In August, the World Bank noted significant health problems and economic losses caused by air pollution with the latter contributing to a mortality rate of 78 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants.

  1. “Tajikistan: Prominent members of Pamiri minority arbitrarily detained, tortured and unfairly convicted”, 21 September
  2. “Tajikistan: Tajik dissenter deported and convicted: Abdullohi Shamsiddin”, 11 April