Democracy and rights
In Tajikistan, abbreviated as TJK by Abbreviationfinder, power is almost entirely concentrated on Emomalii Rahmon, the country’s president since 1992. Although the constitution stipulates that the country should be democratically governed, none of the elections held since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 has met the requirements for a functioning people’s government.
Political and civil rights are not respected by the political authorities. Politically uncomfortable people are at risk, as are members of Muslim groups suspected of radical Islamism. The freedom of assembly, assembly and association is restricted to silence regime critics. Human rights activists – and their relatives – are also being persecuted. Freedom House describes Tajikistan as a “non-free” country.
- Countryaah: Offers a comprehensive list of airports in Tajikistan, including international airports with city located, size and abbreviation, as well as the biggest airlines.
Democracy has a weak foundation even in the population, which usually has a stronger loyalty to its clan and region than to the state and central political institutions such as government and parliament.
Multiparty systems should prevail, but the regime weakens the party system by sometimes banning political parties. The Opposition Islamic Renewal Party was banned in 2015 and labeled as a terrorist movement. Most of the top leaders were sentenced to long prison terms. In 2005, the opposition Democratic Party weakened when the party leader was sentenced to prison for terrorism and corruption. Many opposites choose to work in self-elected exile abroad, where they are subjected to threats, blackmail and other harassment from Tajik security services.
Widespread corruption in the form of bribery and brother-in-law is a serious problem at all levels of society. There is no possibility of proper transparency in the state apparatus. One reason for this is that the country is ruled by a small political elite and that political leaders are rarely replaced. The anti-corruption measures taken by the government have been limited. In 2019, Transparency International placed Tajikistan as 153rd of 180 countries in its index of corruption in the world (see list here). It is the same location as neighboring Uzbekistan.
Freedom of expression and media
Freedom of the press and opinion is only available on paper. The media is controlled by the regime and there is censorship in the press, radio and TV. Authorities control independent media by withdrawing permits for publishing or broadcasting, charging sky-high fees, closing prints, or prosecuting, for example, alleged tax violations.
A 2012 media law decriminalizes defamation – with the exception of defamation directed at the president and other government representatives. Dishonest writings about them can still lead to legal processes that often become lengthy and expensive. All in all, the state’s actions lead to widespread self-censorship among journalists and to the fact that many media workers have gone into self-imposed exile abroad. Those who choose to work in their home country often have to live with threats, blackmail and other harassment from the intelligence services.
The authorities’ prohibitions are increasingly directed at the Internet. Access to independent news sites and social media such as Facebook and Youtube has been repeatedly blocked. A set of guidelines with “ethical advice” for internet use was launched by the regime in 2013. According to critics, it was a way to justify the recurring blocking of sites with government-critical material.
During election campaigns, the harassment of news media has increased. Newspapers have been prosecuted for writing about corruption allegations directed at authorities. Media has also been accused of conspiring with terrorists. Journalists have stated that they were refused accreditation and harassed by the security service. TV stations have had their broadcasts stopped and social media blocked their servers.
Reporters Without Borders ranked Tajikistan as the 161st out of 180 countries in its index of freedom of the press in the world in 2019 and 2020 (see full list here). This was a deterioration of twelve placements compared to 2018 and 32 placements compared to 2014. Compared to the four other Central Asian former Soviet republics, Tajikistan is at about the same low level as Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, significantly worse than Kyrgyzstan but better than Turkmenistan placed last. 2019 and second place in 2020.
Judicial system and legal security
According to the Constitution, the judicial system should be independent of the state powers, but in reality will be largely influenced by political rulers. Corruption permeates the entire legal system and the legal security of the individual citizen is low.
Many politically inconvenient people are arbitrarily arrested by police or security services and sentenced for inadequate trials.
Conditions in prisons are poor; Torture, abuse and harassment occur and there is a shortage of food and medicines. The death penalty is in the penalty scale, but no executions have been carried out in the last decade.
About 30 soldiers are killed in guerrilla attack
About 30 soldiers are killed when suspected Islamists attack a military column in the troubled Rajesh valley. Guerrilla Uzbekistan’s Islamic Movement (IMU) takes on the blame for the attack, the only worst targeted at the military since the end of the civil war in 1997.
Suicide attacks against police officers
Three police officers are killed and some 30 are injured in Chudzhand in the Fergana Valley, in what is said to be the first suicide attack in the country.
Quranic students are called home
President Rahmon calls on authorities and parents to call home Tajik youth studying at Koran schools abroad. More than 1,500 students should then have returned.
Democratic electoral victory for the ruling party
As expected, the dominant People’s Democratic Party is taking a grand slam in the parliamentary elections, securing 55 out of 63 electable seats. Foreign observers judge the election as undemocratic.