The European Union (EU) and Tajikistan held the 14th round of their annual Human Rights Dialogue in Dushanbe on December 14. 

The EU Delegation to Tajikistan says Tajikistan’s delegation was led by Firouz Orzouzoda, Head of the Human Rights Guarantees Department at President’s Executive Office.  The EU delegation was led by Dietmar Krissler, Head of the Central Asia Division in the European External Action Service.

Both sides reportedly discussed openly, and in a constructive spirit, developments of the human rights situation in Tajikistan and in the EU since the last Dialogue that took place (on December 7, 2022).

This year’s Human Rights Dialogue was preceded by the EU-Tajikistan Civil Society seminar, which focused on strengthening the cooperation between the Government of Tajikistan and the civil society.

During the Human Rights Dialogue, the EU and Tajikistan reportedly discussed a broad range of human-rights related areas, including freedom of association, freedom of expression, media environment, freedom of religion and belief, as well as torture prevention, women’s rights and non-discrimination. The participants also discussed Tajikistan’s Generalized Scheme of Preferences (« GSP+ ») application and cooperation in multilateral fora.

The EU expressed concerns about restrictions on freedom of political participation and freedom of expression – especially on increasingly restricted space for civil society and independent media).

The EU enquired about the insufficient investigations in human rights abuses by law enforcement agencies during the events in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region (GBAO) in 2021/22 and reiterated the urgent need to engage with the local population and civil society in view of building trust.

According to the EU Delegation to Tajikistan, the EU raised a number of individual cases of concern and called on the government of Tajikistan to immediately and unconditionally release human rights defenders, journalists and activists that remain imprisoned, highlighting their important role as vital pillars of any democracy and expressing support for their work in Tajikistan.  The EU further reiterated its concern over cases of ill-treatment and torture in the country’s detention centers and encouraged Tajikistan to continue its penitentiary reform efforts.

The parties discussed ongoing legislative reforms and efforts to strengthen Tajikistan’s human rights commitments and the need for transparent and inclusive decision-making process based on public consultations, including on relevant draft laws.

Finally, the parties reviewed cooperation in relevant multilateral fora, in particular within the UN system.

The next round of the EU-Tajikistan Human Rights Dialogue will be held in Brussels in 2024.