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Are Tajik Courts Ready for New Powers?

Khalil Qayumzoda reports on the implications of a change in the law that will reduce the powers of prosecutors.
By IWPR Central Asia
On April 2, a new code governing the administration of criminal law comes into force in Tajikistan. One of the key changes it makes is to give courts alone the authority to issue arrest warrants.

This power previously rested with the prosecution service, which has so far retained much of the weight it carried as the long arm of the Soviet state.

The change will mark the end of a ten-year campaign to get the reform through and reduce the mandate of the prosecutor’s office. Nevertheless, some of those who support the move are concerned that the judicial system is not up to handling arrest warrants, given its own problems with corruption. Others say the courts will need more better-quality staff to handle the volume of work.

Tohir Qodirov, who sits on the Supreme Court, says judges are ready and waiting for the change. He argues that since judges issue final sentences, they must surely be qualified to rule on whether a person should remain under arrest.

(For a recent report on the prosecution service, see Tajik Prosecutor Steps Down in Major Shakeup, RCA No. 603, 12-Feb-10.)

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