Shabnam Khudoydodova will not be extradited to Tajikistan

23/02/2016 11:18
Asia-Plus
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DUSHANBE, February 23, 2016, Asia-Plus – Belarusian authorities have released Ms. Shabnam Khudoydodova, an activist of Tajik opposition organization Group 24.

According to some media sources, she was released on February 22 after eight months of custody.  The Belarusian judicial authorities have reportedly decided not to extradite her to Tajikistan.  

We will recall that Ms. Shabnam Khudoydodova, affiliated with the banned Tajik opposition Group 24, was detained in Belarus on June 15, 2015 shortly after crossing the border from Russia, where she had been residing the last years.  She reportedly traveled to Belarus with the intent to apply for refugee status at the UNHCR.

Being charged under Article 37 of Tajikistan’s Penal Code Khudoydodova potentially faced up to 20 years in prison.

The European Union on July 2, 2015, urged Belarus not to extradite Ms. Khudoydodova to Tajikistan.  The European Union also strongly urged the Tajik Government to fully abide by its OSCE commitments and reopen the space for peaceful alternative political views to be expressed.

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) on 8 July urged the government of Belarus to uphold its commitments as a signatory to the Refugee Convention and Protocol, and respect international customary law, and thus secure Ms. Khudoydodova from extradition to Tajikistan in line with the principle of non-refoulement.  It also encouraged the UNHCR to intervene with relevant authorities to ensure that the principle of non-refoulement is not violated. “The government of Belarus is further committed by the United Nations Convention against Torture, according to which, a person cannot be expelled to “another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture,” said a statement released by the NHC on July 8.

Tajikistan's Supreme Court banned Group 24 on October 9, 2014 following growing government pressure on the opposition group after it used the Internet to call for street protests in the capital, Dushanbe, on October 10.

Supreme Court judge Salomat Hakimova ruled that Group 24 is an “extremist” organization and therefore is banned in Tajikistan.  Its website and printed materials were also banned.

The founding leader of Group 24, Umarali Quvvatov, first made headlines in the summer of 2012 when he fled Tajikistan for Moscow.  There he formed an organization called Group 24, which he claims is a new political movement opposed to incumbent President Rahmon.

Quvvatov stayed in Russia and the United Arab Emirates before moving to Turkey.  After leaving Tajikistan, he accused Emomali Rahmon of corruption and nepotism.

On December 19, 2014, Umarali Quvvatov was arrested in Istanbul for visa violations, but he was released on February 3, 2015.  Umarali Quvvatov was shot dead by unidentified assailant in Istanbul, Turkey on March 5.

The Group 24 Political Council that held its meeting on March 12, 2105 elected Sharofiddin Gadoyev new leader of Group 24.  Sharofiddin Gadoyev is cousin and business associate of Umarali Quvvatov.  He has been living in Spain since 2013.

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