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Tajikistan

TAJIKISTAN: Conscientious objection "a major crime"

Jehovah's Witness conscientious objector Jovidon Bobojonov has been held since October 2019 by the military despite offering to do alternative civilian service, even though the government claimed in March 2019 to the UN Human Rights Committee that an alternative service law is being prepared.

From early October 2019, 19-year-old Jehovah's Witness conscientious objector Jovidon Bobojonov has been held in a military unit near Dushanbe pending trial as he refused to bear arms, wear military uniform, or take the military oath. His requests to do an alternative civilian service have been refused. No criminal case against him is known to have been launched.

Defence Ministry, Dushanbe Ozodi.org (RFE/RL) In October 2019, Bobojonov's parents complained to officials about their son's arrest and detention. Among the replies they received was a letter from Major-General Musa Odinazoda, Deputy Chief of the Armed Forces General Staff, claiming that Bobojonov "committed a major crime by refusing to serve in the Armed Forces" (see below).

Officials such as Sugd Regional Military Prosecutor Abdukodyr Nurov refused on 10 January 2020 to give any legal grounds to Forum 18 as to why Bobojonov was arrested and taken to a military unit.

Asked why Tajikistan will not pass an alternative service law and ignores repeated United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee recommendations to do so, Nurov shouted "Who are you and why should I answer you?" before putting the phone down (see below).

In defiance of its international human rights obligations, and despite repeated requests from the UN Human Rights Committee and UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, Tajikistan has not introduced a possibility for a genuinely civilian alternative service to the military conscription imposed on young men.

The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in October 2017 asked for a reply within six months as to "whether any legislative amendments or changes in practice have been made to harmonize the laws and practices of Tajikistan with its international obligations in line with the present opinion". As of , Tajikistan has not replied to the Working Group (see below).

Instead, conscientious objectors (as in the previous 2017 case of Daniil Islamov) have been jailed. Officials claimed as an excuse that a civilian alternative service law has not been introduced (see below).

On 29 March 2019 Tajikistan claimed to the UN Human Rights Committee that an alternative service law was being prepared. Yet on 13 January 2020 Subhiddin Bakhriddinzoda of the President's National Centre for Law told Forum 18 that "there is no draft law on alternative civilian service ready to present to Parliament".

Bakhriddinzoda claimed that one had been prepared with the involvement of the Presidential Administration, but that it would only be considered after parliamentary elections on 1 March. The Presidential Administration has refused to answer questions on the issue (see below).

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