Wednesday, November 29th, 2023

The Buzurgmehra Foundation calls on the Tajik authorities to abandon the method of applying collective punishment against the opposition and immediately release Sharipov Asliddin

On October 1, 2023, Russian authorities extradited Asliddin Mamajonovich Sharipov to Tajik law enforcement authorities. Asliddin Sharipov is the brother of Tajik opposition activist and director of the media resource Payom TV, Sharipov Shavkatjon Mamajonovich (Shavkati Muhammad).

The “Buzurgmehr” Foundation, after studying the available case materials and Asliddin Sharipov’s social network pages (Facebook), concludes that this extradition is illegal, politically motivated, and directly related to the opposition activities of Shavkati Muhammad, Asliddin Sharipov’s brother. We believe that the extradition of A. Sharipov and his subsequent prosecution in Tajikistan is an attempt to pressure Shavkati Muhammad.

From the analysis of the case materials, it is clear that Sharipov Asliddin was detained on September 22, 2022, by officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia and taken to the police department, where it was subsequently established that he was wanted by law enforcement agencies in Tajikistan.

According to the Tajik law enforcement agencies, A. Sharipov, since 2020, while in the Russian Federation, participated in the activities of the banned organizations IRPT (Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan) and Group-24, whose actions have been prohibited in Tajikistan by decisions of the Supreme Court on September 29, 2015, and October 9, 2014, respectively.

Initially, on August 13, 2021, a criminal case under Part 2 of Article 307.3 of the Criminal Code of Tajikistan was initiated against Asliddin Sharipov by the Prosecutor’s Office of the Sughd Region of Tajikistan. On October 2, 2021, a senior investigator from the Department of the State Committee for National Security of the Republic of Tajikistan, Sharipov A.M., was brought to criminal responsibility and declared wanted under Part 2 of Article 307.3 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Tajikistan.

According to the investigation, Sharipov Asliddin posted materials on the social network “Facebook” under the name “Sharipov Asliddin” related to the recognized Tajikistan terrorist-extremist organizations “Islamic Renaissance Party” and “Group-24.” According to Article 56, paragraph 2 of the Convention on Legal Assistance and Legal Relations in Civil, Family, and Criminal Matters (as amended on March 28, 1997), extradition of persons for criminal prosecution shall be granted for acts punishable under the laws of the requesting and requested Contracting Parties, carrying a punishment of imprisonment for a term of not less than one year or a more severe penalty.

Up until September 14, 2022, the activities of the IRPT and Group-24 were not prohibited on the territory of Russia. Therefore, Asliddin Sharipov was arrested only for actions he could have committed between September 14, 2022, and September 22, 2022, just 8 days after the Russian Supreme Court’s decision.

We have reviewed the Facebook pages of Asliddin Sharipov, and we found no publications that indicate his involvement in the activities of the aforementioned opposition organizations banned in Russia and Tajikistan.

On June 1, 2023, Tajik authorities charged Sharipov A. in absentia under Article 179.3 Part 2 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Tajikistan (Public incitement to commit terrorist crimes and/or public justification of terrorist activities). We consider this additional charge clear evidence of biased and politically motivated criminal prosecution against A. Sharipov. Article 179 was not included in the initial ruling on bringing him to criminal responsibility, which was sent to Russian law enforcement agencies as evidence for the validity of the extradition of the citizen. Only after it became known that the Russian Federation did not intend to extradite Sharipov A. on charges under Article 307 of the Criminal Code of Tajikistan did the Tajik authorities, after an 8-month wait, bring such charges against him. The question arises as to why the investigative authorities of Tajikistan did not bring charges against A. Sharipov under Article 179.3 earlier, before his detention. There can be only one answer: the authorities want to obtain relatives of Tajik oppositionists by any means and thus pressure them to cease their activities.

On July 20, 2023, the ruling of the judge of the Sverdlovsk Regional Court, Neretinym P.A., upheld the order of the Deputy Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation dated June 23, 2023, regarding the extradition of A. Sharipov to the Republic of Tajikistan. In particular, these ruling states that the terms of bringing Sharipov to criminal responsibility have not expired. How could the judge come to such a conclusion if it is not known when these terms began? Neither in the case materials sent by the Tajik authorities nor in other decisions and rulings of the Russian authorities is the beginning of these terms indicated. Therefore, the factual circumstances of the case, such as time, place, means of committing a criminal act, etc., are not provided.

The above analysis of the data on the case of Asliddin Sharipov leads us to believe that his extradition to the Tajik authorities was illegal and politically motivated.

To further support this claim, we would like to inform you that for more than two weeks after Sharipov A. was extradited to Tajikistan, there is no news or information about his place of detention, his condition, the presence or absence of a lawyer, or the actual charges brought against him. Although the General Prosecutor’s Office of Tajikistan has provided written guarantees to the Russian Federation to ensure Sharipov A.’s right to defense, avoid torture, cruelty, and inhuman treatment, and to prosecute him only under Article 179.3 Part 2 of the Criminal Code of Tajikistan, the lack of information about Sharipov Asliddin’s whereabouts, the progress of his case, his state of health, etc., raises concerns that the Tajik authorities may have violated these guarantees. On this basis, the General Prosecutor’s Office of Russia, as the body that extradited Asliddin Sharipov to Tajikistan, should assist his family and friends in every possible way to obtain information about his whereabouts, his state of health, the availability of a lawyer, and the charges brought against him.

The Buzurgmehr Foundation considers initiating criminal proceedings against relatives and friends of Tajik opposition activists, particularly against Asliddin Sharipov, to be an unacceptable and inhumane method for the Tajik authorities to combat dissent, freedom of speech, and expression. We call on the Tajik authorities to abandon the method of collective punishment against the opposition and immediately release Asliddin Sharipov.

Buzurgmehr Foundation

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