Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Ms. Mary Lawlor, heading UN delegation has visited two convicted journalists Abdulloh Ghurbati and Daler Imomali in the pretrial detention facility in Dushanbe.  

The journalists’ relatives told Asia-Plus that the meeting took place this week and the delegation members reportedly talked to the journalists about their health conditions, conditions of detention and the attitude of the guards towards them.  

One of member of the UN delegation has confirmed this information but refrained from giving further details.  He noted that the Special Rapporteur is holding a press conference at the UN head office in Dushanbe today to share her preliminary observations with the media. 

According to the source, Ms. Lawlor got acquainted with the cases of the convicted journalists and met with judges and prosecutors.  

“During the conversation, Abdulloh Ghurbati and Daler Imomali did not complain about their health, just said they miss their loved ones.  They said they were not guilty, their arrest is related to journalistic activities and they do not accept their sentences,” the source said.

Recall, five Tajik journalists and bloggers Mamadsulton Mavlonazarov, Abdulloh Ghurbati, Daler Imomali, Zavqibek Saidamini, and Abdusattor Pirmuhammadzoda were sentenced to prison terms of between seven and 10 years on extremism charges.  

International groups have called on the Tajik government to release the detained reporters and end its campaign against the free press.

Ranked 152nd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2022 World Press Freedom Index, Tajikistan has fallen 36 places in the index since 2015.

Ms. Mary Lawlor

UN Special Rapporteur Mary Lawlor paid an official visit to Tajikistan from November 28 to December 9 to assess the situation of human rights defenders in the country.  The visit provided an opportunity to discuss the situation of human rights defenders and key concerns and challenges faced by civil society in the country.  Lawlor focused on Tajikistan’s implementation of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and other relevant international human rights instruments, to ensure a favorable and enabling environment for human rights defenders to carry out their legitimate and peaceful activities to promote and protect human rights.  She also examined existing and planned measures to protect human rights defenders.   

The Special Rapporteur's findings and recommendations will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in March 2024.

Human rights defenders (HRDs) are all persons, who individually or in association with others, act to promote or protect human rights peacefully. This mandate was created to: promote the effective implementation of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in cooperation and dialogue with Governments and other actors; study developments and challenges on the right to promote and protect human rights and seek, receive and respond to information on the situation of human rights defenders; recommend effective strategies to better protect human rights defenders; and integrate a gender perspective and pay particular attention to women human rights defenders.

The Human Rights Commission first established the mandate on the situation of human rights defenders in 2000.  The mandate was renewed by the Human Rights Council in 2020.