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Press briefing notes on Tajikistan

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Cécile Pouilly
Location: Geneva
Date: 3 August 2015

We are concerned that the amendments to the Law on Public Associations approved by the Upper Chamber of Tajikistan’s Parliament on 21 July could negatively affect the important work of civil society organizations in the country.
 
The amendments introduce a new inspection procedure for public associations, without spelling out the scope or frequency of such inspections. They also require all foreign funding received by public associations to be notified to the Ministry of Justice and provide that such associations will be able to implement projects funded by foreign sources after such funds have been registered.
 
We fear that these new requirements will create a burden for civil society organizations operating in Tajikistan and could deter them from seeking resources from foreign sources to undertake their activities, in a context of limited public funding for NGOs.

We are also concerned that the vagueness of the wording used in these amendments may result in arbitrary or discriminatory enforcement of the law.

These amendments constitute overly broad restrictions to the right to freedom of association and run counter to Tajikistan’s obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Tajikistan ratified in 1999.

In June 2015, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association had already stressed that these amendments “seem to contradict the State’s obligation to establish and maintain a conducive environment for the free operations of associations and could undermine legitimate human rights activities in Tajikistan.”

We call on the President to veto these amendments - which would enter into force once signed by him and officially published - and we call on the Government of Tajikistan to reexamine them, in meaningful consultation with civil society, and ensure that any proposed amendment to the Law on Public Associations is in compliance with international human rights norms and standards.

ENDS

For more information and media requests, please contact Cécile Pouilly (+41 22 917 9310 / cpouilly@ohchr.org) or Ravina Shamdasani (+41 22 917 9169 / rshamdasani@ohchr.org).

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