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The Republic of Tajikistan

Tajikistan  is a mountainous landlocked country in Central Asia. It borders Afghanistan to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east. The country covers an area of 143.000 km2 and is home to some of the highest mountains in the world, including the Pamir and Alay ranges.

Tajikistan proclaimed independence from the collapsing Soviet Union on 9 September 1991. Most of Tajikistan’s population of 8 million belongs to the Persian-speaking Tajik ethnic group, who share a language, culture and history with Afghanistan and Iran. Almost immediately after independence, Tajikistan was plunged into a civil war that saw various factions fighting one another. By 1997, the war had cooled down, a central government began to take form, and a newly established political stability coupled with foreign aid has allowed the country’s economy to grow. Emomalii Rahmon has held the office of President continually since November 1994. The presidential election held in November 2006 was boycotted by “mainline” opposition parties. The most recent elections, in February 2010, saw the ruling People’s Democratic Party of Tajikistan maintain a comfortable majority.

Tajikistan and the EU

The European Union is pursuing a closer relationship with Tajikistan, focusing its co-operation on facilitating Tajikistan’s economic transition and on promoting an inclusive, sustainable human and economic development. Tajikistan is becoming an increasingly important partner within the Central Asia cooperation programme. The Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (PCA)  signed in 2004, entered into force in the beginning of 2010. It provides a comprehensive and ambitious framework for co-operation with Tajikistan, in all key areas of reform. Tajikistan society is undergoing a profound transformation and the EU is assisting the Government in its structural reform process as well as enhancing the capacity of its civil society, working in partnership with local and international NGOs. On 1 January 2010 the EU Delegation in Tajikistan was upgraded to a full-fledged diplomatic mission, and its highest ranking representative was accredited at the level of ambassador.

At the regional level, political relations with Tajikistan fall under the 2007 European Union and Central Asia: Strategy for a New Partnership, which outlines the overall EU co-operation objectives, policy responses and priority fields for engagement in Central Asia. In June 2012, the European Council and the European Commission published their latest Joint Progress Report on the implementation of the EU Central Asia Strategy.

The EU supports Tajikistan through national-level programmes worth € 66 million for the 2007-2010 period and € 62,1 million for 2011-2013. In addition, the EU regional Central Asia programmes aim to promote regional cooperation and good neighbourly relations in the region.

Tajikistan and the Rule of Law Initiative

Tajikistan hosted the Second Ministerial Conference in Dushanbe in June, 2010. At the Third Ministerial Conference in Brussels in December 2012, Tajikistan endorsed the Joint Communiqué and its substantial conclusions and highlighted steps taken to improve judicial procedures and criminal justice. The first training events in Tajikistan held under the Rule of Law Initiative include workshops on law-drafting techniques (July 2-3, 2013), on administrative law (August 13-14, 2013) and on “Particularities of criminal justice in Tajikistan » (September 10-11, 2013).

Tajikistan has indicated that it will soon appoint a Rule of Law Initiative National Coordinator.

The Mission of the Republic of Tajikistan to the European Union in Brussels provides support to the political dialogue between Tajikistan and the EU on matters related to the Rule of Law Initiative. The Delegation of the EU to Tajikistan in Dushanbe supports the EU’s policies in rule of law.

Rule of Law in Tajikistan

The government’s “Programme of legal and judicial reform for 2007-2010” has played an important role in the development of legislation and the establishment of new independent legal bodies to improve the rule of law in Tajikistan. The next phase of the National Programme (2011-2013) is currently being implemented. This aims at further strengthening the judiciary and increasing the role of the courts in protecting human rights and the freedom of citizens. A new Criminal Code has been adopted. In 2011, the Department on Juvenile Justice was established in the Ministry of Justice. Tajikistan is drafting new bills on “Advocacy and legal aid”, on “Prevention and protection from domestic violence”, on the “Fight against organised crime” and a new Procedural Code on Administrative Offences.

The reform work underway in Tajikistan on the law of administrative procedure or proceedings had come to a standstill but is currently been revived.

The new programme of legal and judicial reform for 2014-2017 is currently been prepared by a working group chaired by the President of the Justice Council. The Rule of Law Platform will analyse the new programme and adapt its work plan for 2014 to the needs and priorities expressed by Tajikistan.

Rule of Law Platform work plan in Tajikistan

Tajikistan has expressed the need for support of its capacity-building efforts. Accordingly, the Rule of Law Platform will organise several training activities targeting judges and also policy-makers on issues pertaining to its judicial reform. These efforts will include support and capacity building in the drafting of laws, which will also be the subject of a training seminar.

The work plan  includes a training session on administrative procedure and administrative process, in order to support the reactivation of these reform efforts.

Training sessions for judges and possibly for prosecutors and lawyers should provide guidance on interpreting certain provisions in the criminal code and criminal procedural code, and offering better protection to prevent abuses/torture (to expand judicial oversight over criminal investigation at pre-trial detention stage, to give courts the power to review the legality of arrests, right to counsel from the time of arrest, the burden of proof that a person should be kept in custody must rest with the prosecutor, review evidentiary rules, and other criminal procedural issues).

Because a large number of grass-root and internationally-funded initiatives already exist which focus on an array of rule of law issues, including human rights, the fight against torture, and other important subject-matters, the Platform will work with existing NGOs and insofar as possible, with initiatives financed by the EU and EU Member States.

Rule of Law Platform Stakeholders in Tajikistan

The Tajik stakeholders include the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Tajikistan, the Judicial Education Center under the Ministry of Justice, the Council of Justice of the Republic of Tajikistan, the Judicial Training Center under the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Tajikistan, the Supreme Court of the Republic of Tajikistan, the Supreme Economic Court of the Republic of Tajikistan, the Department on Citizen’s Constitutional Rights of the President’s Office, the National Center of Legislation under the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, the Ombudsman for Human Rights of the Republic of Tajikistan, the Majlisi Namoyandagon of the Majlisi Oli (Parliament) of the Republic of Tajikistan, the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Tajikistan, the Chamber of Advocates of the Republic of Tajikistan, the NGO “Independent Center for the Protection of Human Rights”, the NGO “Human Rights Center”, the NGO “Bureau of Human Rights and Rule of Law”, the League of Women-Lawyers of Tajikistan, and the Law Faculty of the Tajik National University.