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First mission to Tajikistan by UN Special Rapporteur on torture

GENEVA (9 May 2012) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Juan E. Méndez will undertake his first official country visit to the Republic of Tajikistan from 10 to 18 May, to assess measures taken by the Government to bring its legislation on prohibition of torture in line with international standards, and to examine the situation of victims of torture and their families in the country.

“I am encouraged by the initial steps taken by the Tajik Government, and welcome its public commitment to address issues related to the prohibition of corporal punishment of children, the introduction of a separate juvenile justice system and the moratorium on the death penalty,” said the independent expert charged by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

“However there remain significant gaps in legislation, policies and law enforcement practices and I stand ready to assist the authorities,” noted Mr. Méndez, who visits Tajikistan at the invitation of the Government. “In particular, I want to inquire on how the authorities comply with the universal obligations to afford victims of torture an effective remedy and to investigate, prosecute and punish every episode of torture.”

During his nine-day mission, the UN independent expert will meet with Government officials, civil society members and representatives of United Nations agencies and international organizations. In order to gather first-hand information, he will also meet victims and their families, and visit places where persons are deprived of their liberty in and around Dushanbe, Khujand and Kurgan-Tube.

At the end of the visit Mr. Méndez will hold a press conference on 18 May, Friday at 14:00h at the UN House, 39 Aini Street, to share his preliminary findings with representatives of the media. He will present a comprehensive report containing his conclusions and recommendations to a forthcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council.
The mandate of Special Rapporteur on torture covers all countries, irrespective of whether a State has ratified the Convention* against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. The Republic of Tajikistan ratified the Convention in 1995.

(*) Check the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/cat.htm

ENDS

Juan E. Méndez (Argentina) was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council as the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment in November 2010. He is independent from any government and serves in his individual capacity. Mr. Méndez has dedicated his legal career to the defense of human rights, and has a long and distinguished record of advocacy throughout the Americas. He is currently a Professor of Law at the American University – Washington College of Law. He was Co-Chair of the Human Rights Institute of the International Bar Association in 2010 and 2011. Mr. Méndez has previously served as the President of the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) until 2009, and was the UN Secretary-General Special Advisor on the Prevention of Genocide from 2004 to 2007, as well as an advisor on crime prevention to the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court, between 2009 and 2010. Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Torture/SRTorture/Pages/SRTortureIndex.aspx

OHCHR Country Page – Tajikistan:  http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/TJIndex.aspx  

For more information and media requests, please contact Ms. Shushan Khachyan (+41 79 444 4702 / sr-torture@ohchr.org) or Ms. Lilia Zaharieva (+992 985 618115 / Lilia.Zaharieva@undp.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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