In Dushanbe, the High Commissioner met with the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rakhmon, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hamrokhon Zarifi, the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs, Rauf Yousoupov, the Chairperson of the Supreme Court, Nusratullo Abdulloev, the Minister of Justice, Bakhtyor Khudoyorov and the Deputy Prosecutor General, Abdusami Dadabaev. She also met with the Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Tajikistan Office of Peace-Building (UNTOP), Vladimir Sotirov and other representatives of international governmental organizations, civil society groups and locally based diplomatic corps.
The High Commissioner was pleased to note that Tajikistan has reported under six of the major human rights instruments that it has ratified. She encouraged the government to deepen this engagement by setting up systems to ensure that the recommendations from the human rights treaty bodies are fully implemented.
One of the main purposes of the High Commissioner's visit is the establishment of a Regional Office for Central Asia. In the context of the imminent closing down of UNTOP, the High Commissioner commends the important work conducted by UNTOP in the area of human rights and wishes that her Regional Office build on this work and continue to provide human rights assistance to national authorities and civil society.
In her various meetings with officials, the High Commissioner had extensive discussions concerning the ongoing reforms in the judicial system, including law enforcement, criminal procedures and independence of the judiciary. She said that access to justice is a major challenge that needs to be addressed in a participatory manner and in compliance with international standards. In this regard, the High Commissioner encourages the Government to implement the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers.
The High Commissioner also discussed conditions in places of detention and encouraged the government to provide access for local and international monitors, including the International Committee of the Red Cross. In this regard, she suggested that the Government consider ratifying the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, which provides a framework for monitoring places of detention.
She also met with representatives of political parties and civil society and would like to encourage the Government to engage in a continuous dialogue with them and ensure democratic space for their activities.
The High Commissioner offered the support and cooperation of her Office to the Government of Tajikistan on these and other issues of mutual concern.
The High Commissioner's visit also includes Kyrgyzstan (24-25 April), Kazakhstan (30 April-2 May) and Turkmenistan (3-5 May). The visit to Central Asia is a part of an effort to increase her Office's engagement in the region.