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Tajikistan: Association of Young Lawyers 'Amparo' Closed Down
Letter by William Gomes Salem-News.com
Mr. Gomes says charges are solely motivated by their legitimate and peaceful human rights work...
Mr Emomali Rakhmon, photo: Telegraph UK
(SALEM) - A group of lawyers in Tajikistan are the latest target of government intervention in the human rights field.
They're called the Association of Young Lawyers (AMPARO) and they are part of the Coalition against Torture.
On 24 October 2012, AMPARO was closed down by a decision of the Khujand City Court following the proceedings initiated by the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Justice of Sughd Province.
This is one of the leading human rights organisations in Tajikistan and the importance of their role in this country can not be overemphasized.
They are composed of more than 40 young human rights lawyers providing free legal assistance to victims of discrimination.
In his letter to Mr Emomali Rakhmon, President of Tajikistan, our Human Rights Ambassador William Nicholas Gomes asks Mr Emomali Rakhmon, President of Tajikistan, to both reverse the court decision affecting this group of activists, and to ease targeting human rights defenders in Tajikistan.
HE Mr Emomali Rakhmon, President
Office of the President
pr. Rudaki 80
I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com.
I came to know about the situation from Front Line Defenders.
On 24 October 2012, the Association of Young Lawyers (Amparo) was closed down by a decision of the Khujand City Court following the proceedings initiated by the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Justice of Sughd Province. Amparo is one of the leading human rights organisations in Tajikistan, composed of more than 40 young human rights lawyers providing free legal assistance to victims of discrimination. Amparo is also part of the Coalition against Torture, created by several Tajik civil society organisations.
The civil case against Amparo was opened on 6 August 2012 by the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Justice of Sughd Province after they carried out an audit of Amparo on 28 June 2012. The audit lasted one day, and on 29 June a legal suit was filed against Amparo on the basis that the association violated its own charter as well as the Law on Public Associations and should therefore be dissolved.
After two hearings, on 23 and on 24 October 2012, the Khujand City Court ordered the closure of the organisation. This decision was motivated by the fact that Amparo had not registered its new address with the Department of Justice; that it worked in a number of regions without having applied to open regional branches; that it unlawfully operated a website; and that it conducted trainings on the rights of army conscripts without the relevant licence. Amparo responded that the law only requires the registration of the ‘location of the board of the organisation’, which they have always registered in accordance with provisions of Article 25 of the Law on Public Associations. ‘
Amparo does not operate outside of Sughd Province, as all the programs outside the province are carried out by partner organisations. Tajik legislation does not prevent NGOs from disseminating information on their activities; as to the creation of the website, there is no such word as ‘website’ to be found anywhere in the Law on Public Associations. According to the Law, the organisation of trainings does not require a particular licence, and organising trainings is defined as one of Amparo’s activities in the organisation’s statutes. Nevertheless, the Court agreed with the prosecution’s arguments and ordered the human rights organisation to be closed down. Amparo intends to appeal this decision.
I believe that the court’s decision to order the closure of Amparo is an inappropriate sanction that is at odds with the formal character of the offences allegedly committed by Amparo. I believe the ruling is a direct consequence of the legitimate human rights work carried out by Amparo and that it constitutes a violation of the freedom of association in Tajikistan.
I urge the authorities in Tajikistan to:
- Reverse the decision to close down the Association of Young Lawyers ‘Amparo’, as I believe that the charges against them are solely motivated by their legitimate and peaceful human rights work;
- Cease targeting human rights defenders in Tajikistan and guarantee in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
William Nicholas Gomes
Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com
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Salem-News.com Human Rights Ambassador William Nicholas Gomes is a Bangladeshi journalist, human rights activist and author was born on 25 December, 1985 in Dhaka. As an investigative journalist he wrote widely for leading European and Asian media outlets.
He is also active in advocating for free and independent media and journalists’ rights, and is part of the free media movement, Global Independent Media Center – an activist media network for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate telling of the truth. He worked for Italian news agency Asianews.it from year 2009 to 2011, on that time he was accredited as a free lance journalist by the press information department of Bangladesh. During this time he has reported a notable numbers of reports for the news agency which were translated into Chinese and Italian and quoted by notable number of new outlets all over the world.He, ideologically, identifies himself deeply attached with anarchism. His political views are often characterized as “leftist” or “left-wing,” and he has described himself as an individualist anarchist.
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