Local EU statement on closure of the Association of Young Lawyers “Amparo”

02/11/2012 09:40
Asia-Plus
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DUSHANBE, November 2, 2012, Asia-Plus – On Thursday November 1, the European Union Delegation to Tajikistan issues the following statement in agreement with the EU Heads of Mission in Tajikistan.

The statement, in particular, says that the EU Delegation to Tajikistan is deeply concerned about the closure of the Association of Young Lawyers ''Amparo" following a ruling by a court in the northern city of Khujand.

“The EU Delegation is convinced that it is in Tajikistan's best interest to have a strong and independent civil society, and it believes that the closure of the NGO ''Amparo'' could negatively affect the further development of civil society in the country.

“The EU Delegation calls on the Tajik authorities to reconsider the decision and reinstate "Amparo’s" license to operate, in line with Tajikistan's obligations to promote freedom of association.”

We will recall that the Khujand city court shut down a human rights group, Amparo, on October 24, saying it operated without a proper license.  Justice Ministry officials alleged that Amparo had changed its office location without registering its new address with the ministry.  The officials also said that Amparo was unlawfully operating a website, conducting activities outside of the northern Sughd province, the area where Amparo was originally registered, and holding unauthorized training for high school students on human rights issues, including the rights of army conscripts to be free of torture and ill-treatment.

Meanwhile, Amparo representatives say the allegations are politically motivated.  According to them, they informed authorities of the address change, they conducted all training in accordance with existing law and an agreement with the Education Ministry, and they were not prohibited by any law from maintaining a website.  Furthermore, Amparo representatives say that at the time the motion was filed Amparo had an application for country-wide registration pending with the Justice Ministry.

Founded in 2005 by a group of young Tajik lawyers, Amparo was reregistered wit the Ministry of Justice in 2007.  It monitors human rights violations, torture allegations, and the rights of Tajik Army soldiers.  It also helps local citizens to learn more about their rights through conferences and online discussions.  The association members include more than 40 human rights activists, journalists, and educators.

Amparo is member of Tajikistan’s Coalition of NGOs against Torture and the CIS Coalition of Public Associations for Protection of Rights of Draftees and Servicemen. 

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