Ombudsman’s representatives have never met with jailed independent journalist Abdusattor Pirmuhammadzoda to verify the fact of use of torture against him.  

Muqim Ashourov, the head of the Department for State Protection of Civil and Political Rights, Tajik Ombudsman’s Office, and his colleague Husniddin Nidoyev told Asia-Plus on March 6 that they have not yet met with Abdusattor Pirmuhammadzoda, who previously claimed to have been tortured while in the pretrial detention facility.

When asked why the meeting did not take place, they couldn't answer clearly.

Asked whether they still intend to meet with the jailed journalist, they said they could not say anything specific at the moment.   

“This is decided by the Ombudsman, but he is not here now.  You can send a written request to us on this case, and we answer you,” Mr. Ashourov said. 

It is to be noted that the meeting took place at an initiative of Ombudsman’s representatives.  

Meanwhile, Muqim Ashourov told reporters in Dushanbe on February 2 that the National Commissioner for Human Rights will verify the fact of use of torture against the jailed blogger Abdusattor Pirmuhammadzoda.  According to him, none of Pirmuhammadzoda’s relatives contacted them on this matter.

Recall, a court in Dushanbe’s Ismoili Somoni district sentenced independent journalist and blogger Abdusattor Pirmuhammadzoda to seven years in prison on December 26, 2022.  The sentence followed his conviction on charges of collaboration with parties and movements banned in Tajikistan (Article 307 (3) of Tajikistan’s Penal Code).

The court's ruling is identical to the prosecution's earlier demand.  A prosecutor in the trial of Abdusattor Pirmuhammadzoda on December 16 asked the Ismoili Somoni court to sentence Abdusattor to a seven-year prison term.

Abdusattor’s relatives said they do not agree with the ruling and are going to appeal to a higher court.

The trial of blogger and journalist Abdusattor Pirmuhammadzoda started on October 13 behind doors.

Pirmuhammadzoda was detained in Vahdat Township on July 9 last year.  He had been charged with publicly calling for extremist activities.      

Abdusattor Pirmuhammadzoda worked at the state-owned radio station Sadoi Dushanbe (Voice of Dushanbe) until 2019, when he quit after reportedly being given the choice between moderating his critical reporting and resigning.

He has reportedly published his personal views on free speech and alleged government injustices on his YouTube channel, where he has about 39,000 subscribers.    

It is to be noted that seven Tajik journalists and bloggers Mamadsulton Mavlonazarov, Abdulloh Ghurbati, Daler Imomali, Zavqibek Saidamini, Khoushrouz Jumayev, Ulfatkhonim Mamadshoyeva and Abdusattor Pirmuhammadzoda have been sentenced to prison terms of between seven and twenty-one  years last year.

They were charged with spreading false information, participation in extremism community and collaboration with banned organization.  The journalists themselves and their relatives reject these charges as absolutely unfounded.   

International groups, including Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), have called on the Tajik government to release the reporters and end its campaign against the free press.

A report released by the CPJ on December 14 last year says arrest and conviction of independent journalists and bloggers makes Tajikistan the leading jailer in Central Asia.

The report, in particular, notes that the prisoners were tried secretly behind closed doors in detention centers, not courts, and sentenced to lengthy prison terms amid allegations of torture.

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