Tajikistan

Tajikistan Slow to End Death Penalty

Under pressure from the international community, Tajikistan is likely to abolish the death penalty, but not quite yet.

At a recent debate on the issue in the capital Dushanbe, participants were divided between pro- and anti-abolitionists.

A moratorium on carrying out executions has been in force since 1994 and the number of offences carrying the death penalty has been reduced from 16 to five.

Opinion polls show that most respondents want to keep capital punishment in place.

The authorities have no plans to lift the moratorium, but are not yet ready to introduce a ban, either.

According to Jumakhon Davlatov, adviser to President Imomali Rahmon on legal affairs, there are two main obstacles. First, more needs to be done to change public opinion so that people are prepared to accept a ban; and second, the government lacks the money needed to build suitable prison accommodation for those sentenced to life. He says such a facility would need to be able to house 200 convicts.

Abdunabi Sattorzoda, head of international relations at the Centre for Strategic Studies, says Tajikistan should not be too hasty about abolishing capital punishment given that so many people believe in the need to be tough on wrongdoers.

Leading human rights advocate Nigina Bahrieva notes that introducing a complete ban would require the authorities to reveal statistics and other details for executions carried out in earlier years.  

The audio programme, in Russian and Tajik, went out on national radio stations in Tajikistan, as part of IWPR project work funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.