A report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) says Tajikistan’s human rights record continued to deteriorate amid an ongoing crackdown on freedom of expression and the political opposition, as well as targeting of independent lawyers, journalists, and family members of opposition activists abroad.  

World Report 2022, in particular, says that the government blocked access to websites that post information critical of the government and harassed human rights groups.

Freedom of religion and belief is severely limited, according to the report.  Significant legislative gaps, lack of accountability for family violence, and authorities’ inadequate response deter women from seeking help and support. Following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, Tajikistan received thousands of refugees, with many more gathering at the border.   

The reports notes that working on political rights, torture, electoral issues, corruption and freedom of religion remained sensitive and often led to harassment of activists.  Human rights defenders complained of the work of state-supported “troll factories” that aim to discredit critical voices online.

In 2021, Tajikistan reportedly continued to harass and imprison government critics, opposition, and foreign-based dissidents and their family members within the country.

Under the pretext of protecting national security, Tajikistan’s state telecommunications agency regularly blocks websites that carry information potentially critical of the government, including Facebook, Radio Ozodi, the website of Radio Free Europe’s Tajik Service, and opposition websites.  Journalists and bloggers are reportedly prosecuted for their critical opinions posted on social media, based on 2017 legal amendments allowing security services to monitor individuals’ online activities, including by keeping records of mobile messages and comments.

The Tajik government severely curtails freedom of religion or belief, proscribing certain forms of dress, including the hijab for women and long beards for men, according to the report.  

In October, the Tajik parliament started consideration of amendments to the criminal code on tightening penalties for illegal religious education, including online education, with imprisonment of up to three years. Previously this was punishable with an administrative fine of up to 72,000 somonis (equivalent to approximately US$6,000) or a prison term of up to three years for a repeat offence.

Domestic violence in Tajikistan is reportedly prevalent.  The 2013 law on the prevention of violence in the family, while offering some protection to survivors, does not criminalize domestic violence or marital rape, and remains poorly implemented. Survivors lack adequate support and protection and have little recourse to justice, according to the report.   

At the UN Universal Periodic Review of Tajikistan in November several states made recommendations for Tajikistan to allow political opposition groups to operate, release political prisoners, end the use of torture, respect freedom of expression and take steps to end domestic violence against women and girls, the report noted.