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Tajikistan: NGO that investigates abuses in conscription shut down

The Young Lawyers Association “Amparo”, who document press-ganging in Tajikistan and has provided thousands of families pro bono legal advice has been ordered to close by the Tajik court.

The court cited a variety of technical violations of its operating license, including moving offices without duly notifying authorities, engaging in unauthorized training sessions involving high school students and operating an improperly registered website. The ruling came after the Tajik Justice Ministry filed a motion to shut down the Association.

A recent report from Amparo described Tajikistan’s biannual conscription process as marred by the kidnapping of recruits, some underage, sometimes with violence, and a systematic denial of conscripts’ legal rights.

Amparo representatives vowed to appeal the ruling. The head of the organisation, Dilrabo Samadova, told the Asia-Plus news agency that the case proves Tajikistan’s courts are not independent. A Human Rights Watch spokesperson called this move a “transparent attempt to silence voices working on critically important issues such as torture and the rights of military recruits and a major step backward for human rights in Tajikistan.”

Sources: Eurasia: Tajikistan: Court Ruling Silences Whistleblower on Torture, Hazing, October 25, 2012; Human Rights Watch, Tajikistan: Rights Group Forced to Close, October 25, 2012; Eurasia Tajikistan blocks NGO from investigating press gangs, October 26, 2012.