Tajiks Now Ready for Death Penalty Abolition

Although Tajikistan has not executed anyone for years, it is only now moving towards abolishing the death penalty. And it seems the public broadly favours this move.

When government representatives appeared before the United Nations Human Rights Committee in early October, they were urged to accelerate progress towards abolition, and they pledged to report back next March.

The country has had a moratorium on executions in place since 2004, and opinion polls suggest this has created the space for public attitudes to evolve. Whereas in 2001, 64 per cent of poll respondents wanted to retain the death penalty, now over 60 per cent support abolition, according to Nigina Bahrieva from the NGO Nota Bene.

Tajikistan’s chief prosecutor Sherkhon Salimzoda says crime rates have got significantly worse since the moratorium was introduced. While no definitive studies have been done on impact of halting capital punishment, Salimzoda says it is not the cause of rising crime. There are many contributory factors in reported crime, he said, one of them the fact that the systems used for recording it around the country were homogenised only last year.

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.