On July 4, 2020, the president signed new amendments to the Criminal Code and Code on Administrative Offenses (CoAO) that increase liability for violation of sanitary-hygienic rules related to the spread of COVID-19. Most concerning, Article 374 of the CoAO amendments impose severe penalties for individuals and legal entities that disseminate what is deemed to be inaccurate or untrue information about the spread of infectious diseases, or about government measures to control the spread of infectious diseases, through all forms of media, including internet/social media resources. The provisions of Article 374 are extremely broad, raising serious concern amongst local activists about how such provisions would be applied in practice and the impact on freedom of expression.
In June 2020, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) created a working group to develop a new Law on Public Councils, which aims to improve public oversight over state bodies’ activities.
Civil society constitutes one of the most dynamically developing sectors in Tajikistan today. Civil society organizations (CSOs) in Tajikistan are engaged in a wide range of activities, including humanitarian and charitable work; the protection of the marginalized and vulnerable; the defense of human rights; and support for stability, peace and the process of democratization. The impact of civil society on Tajikistan has increased as the number, scope and reach of CSOs have grown steadily.
CSOs – registered as non-commercial organization (NCOs) – first emerged during the social transformations of the 1980s and increased in number during the 1990s. Since 1997, Tajikistan has taken a number of important steps to ensure a more secure legal space for NCOs. In 1997, there were 300 CSOs formally registered in Tajikistan; by 2006 the number had grown to more than 2,700. After adoption of the new Law on Public Associations in 2007, which required all existing NCOs to undergo re-registration or face termination, the number of NCOs decreased. Currently, the number of NCOs in Tajikistan is about 3000: 2,773 of them are Public Associations, which are registered with the Ministry of Justice; and the rest are Public Foundations and Associations (unions) of Legal Entities.
On May 19, 2009, the President signed the new Law on State Registration of Legal Entities and Individual Entrepreneurs. The Law envisions two channels of state registration for NCOs. Public associations are registered with the Ministry of Justice, in accordance with the Law on Public Associations. Other NCOs (public foundations, institutes, etc.) are registered with the local tax authorities. Registration with the local tax authorities is both simpler and subject to less discretion than registration with the Ministry of Justice. Indeed, requiring public associations (and political parties) to undergo the complex registration procedure with the Ministry distinguishes these legal entity forms from all other legal entities, including both for-profit businesses and all other types of NCOs.
In 2014, the Parliament adopted new amendments to the Law on Meetings, Rallies, Demonstrations and Marches, which restrict foreign citizens from participating at meetings, rallies, demonstrations and marches. Article 4 of the Law, which gave to foreign citizens and stateless persons an equal right to participate in meetings, rallies and demonstrations, was omitted from the amended law. At the same time as these restrictions on assembly were introduced, new amendments to the Law on State Fees were also adopted by the Parliament. The fee for registration of branches and representative offices of foreign NCOs was increased from 5 indexes for calculation (290 TJS=30 USD) to 100 indicators for calculation (5800 TJS=598 USD), which significantly increased the cost of registration and burdened smaller NCOs.
Also in 2014, the Ministry of Justice initiated new amendments to the Law on Public Associations, which were adopted by Parliament in June 2015 and signed by the President on August 8, 2015. The new amendments require PAs to notify the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) about grants and other aid received from foreign sources. Other amendments to the Law on Public Associations (PAs) were adopted by the parliament on December 25, 2018 and signed by the president on January 2, 2019. They included restrictive provisions that require PAs to post their financial information on websites, which is expensive and time-consuming and potentially dangerous if personally or financially sensitive data must be shared.
More recently, on July 4, 2020, the President of the Republic of Tajikistan signed into law amendments to the Code of the Republic of Tajikistan on Administrative Offenses (CoAO), which are of particular concern to CSOs.
These restrictive initiatives underscore the fact that the legal environment for civil society in Tajikistan is not fully enabling and faces ongoing challenges and threats.
|Organizational Forms||Non-commercial organizations (NCOs), public associations (PAs)|
|Registration Body||Tax Committee and Ministry of Justice|
For some NCOs, the registration body is the Tax Committee. For public associations, religious organizations and political parties, the registration body is the Ministry of Justice
|Approximate Number||About 3000 registered NCOs (more than 90% are Public Associations, which are registered with the Ministry of Justice, and the rest are Public Foundations and Associations (unions) of Legal Entities)|
|Barriers to Entry||Certain persons, including foreign persons and stateless persons, may not become founders, members, or participants of NCOs, if they don’t have residence permits. Registration procedures for public associations are overly bureaucratic, with excessive documentation requirements.|
|Barriers to Activities||First, the Law categorizes public associations by territorial range of activity. This territorial principle consequently restricts the operation activities of local public associations outside the region where they are registered. Second, the Law authorizes governmental authorities to engage in highly intrusive means of supervision of public associations.|
|Barriers to Speech and/or Advocacy||No legal barriers, provided that NCOs act in compliance with by-laws and Tajik legislation.|
|Barriers to International Contact||No legal barriers.|
|Barriers to Resources||Amendments to the Law on Public Associations (PAs) require PAs to notify the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) about grants and other aid received from foreign sources.|
|Barriers to Assembly||15 days advance notification requirement and long list of sites where assemblies are not permitted; foreigners and stateless persons are not allowed to participate in assemblies, marches, and demonstrations|
|Population||8,990,874 (July 2021 est.)|
|Type of Government||Republic|
|Life Expectancy at Birth||Total population: 69.06 years|
Male: 65.91 years
Female: 72.38 years (2021 est.)
|Literacy Rate||Total population: 99.8%|
Female: 99.7% (2015 est.)
|Religious Groups||Muslim 98% (Sunni 95%, Shia 3%), other 2% (2014 est.)|
|Ethnic Groups||Tajik 84.3% (includes Pamiri and Yagnobi), Uzbek 13.8%, other 2% (includes Kyrgyz, Russian, Turkmen, Tatar, Arab) (2014 est.)|
|GDP Per Capita||$3,380 (2019 est.)|
Source: The World Factbook. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency.
|Ranking Body||Rank||Ranking Scale|
(best – worst possible)
|UN Human Development Index||125 (2020)||1 – 182|
|World Bank Rule of Law Index||8 (2018)||100 – 0|
|World Bank Voice & Accountability Index||5 (2018)||100 – 0|
|Transparency International||161 (2017)||1 – 168|
|Freedom House: Freedom in the World||Status: Not Free|
Political Rights: 0
Civil Liberties: 8 (2020)
|Free/Partly Free/Not Free|
1 – 40
1 – 60
|Foreign Policy: Fragile States Index||63 (2018)||177 – 1|
Source: The World Factbook. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency.
International and Regional Human Rights Agreements
|Key International Agreements||Ratification*||Year|
|International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||Yes||1999|
|Optional Protocol to ICCPR (ICCPR-OP1)||Yes||1999|
|International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR)||Yes||1999|
|Optional Protocol to ICESCR (OP-ICESCR)||Yes||1993|
|International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD)||Yes||1995|
|Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)||Yes||1993|
|Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women||Yes||2000|
|Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)||Yes||1993|
|International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (ICRMW)||Yes||2003|
|Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)||No||—|
|Key Regional Agreements||Ratification*||Year|
|European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms||Yes||2003|
|Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the|
Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe
* Category includes ratification, accession, or succession to the treaty
The Constitution of Tajikistan was adopted on November 6, 1994 (and amended June 22, 2003).
Relevant provisions include:
- Article 5. Life, honor, dignity, and other natural human rights are inviolable. The rights and liberties of the person and citizen are recognized, observed and protected by the state.
- Article 8. In Tajikistan, social life develops on the basis of political and ideological pluralism. No state ideology or religion may be established. Social associations are formed and operate within the framework of the Constitution and laws. The state provides them with equal possibilities in their operations. Religious organizations are separate from the state and may not interfere in governmental affairs. The formation and operation of social associations which advocate racial, ethnic, social or religious animosity or which incite violent overthrow of the constitutional system, as well as the organization of armed groups, are forbidden.
- Article 10. The Constitution of Tajikistan possesses supreme legal power, and its norms have direct application. Laws and other legal acts that are contrary to the Constitution do not have legal force. The government and all its organs, officials, citizens, and citizens’ associations are obligated to comply with and execute the Constitution and laws of the republic. International legal acts recognized by Tajikistan are a constituent part of the legal system of the republic. In the case of a discrepancy between the laws of the republic and recognized international legal acts, the norms of the international acts are applied. Laws and international legal acts recognized by Tajikistan enter into force after their official publication.
- Article 14. The rights and freedoms of the person and the citizen are regulated and protected by the Constitution and laws of the republic, as well as by international legal acts recognized by Tajikistan. Limitations of the rights and freedoms of citizens are only allowed for the purposes of ensuring the rights and freedoms of other citizens, ensuring social order, and protecting the constitutional system and territorial integrity of the republic.
- Article 28. Citizens have the right of association. Each citizen has the right to participate in the formation of political parties, trade unions, and other social associations, as well as voluntarily to join them and resign from them.
- Article 29. Each citizen has the right to participate in lawfully established meetings, protests, demonstrations, and peaceful marches. No one may be forced to participate in these activities.
- Article 30. Each person is guaranteed the freedoms of speech and the press, as well as the right to use information media. Governmental censorship and prosecution for criticism is prohibited. The list of information constituting a state secret is specified by law.
National Laws and Regulations Affecting Sector
- Relevant national-level laws and regulations affecting civil society include:
- The Law “On Political Parties” (as amended on July 19, 2019);
- The Law “On Charitable Activity” as amended on January 2, 2018);
- The Constitution of Tajikistan (November 6, 1994, as amended on June 30, 2003);
- The Law of Tajikistan “On Public Initiative Bodies” (January 5, 2008);
- The Law “On State Social Contracting” (December 31, 2008);
- The Law of Tajikistan “On Public Associations” (as amended on January 2, 2019);
- The Law “On Registration of Legal Entities and Individual Entrepreneurs” (as amended on January 2, 2020);
- The Law “On State Fees” (as amended on July 4, 2020);
- The Law “On Freedom of Conciseness and Religious Associations” (January 2, 2018);
- The Law “On Trade Unions” (as amended on January 2, 2020);
- The Civil Code of Republic of Tajikistan, Part 1 (as amended on January 2, 2020);
- The Civil Code of Republic of Tajikistan, Part 2 (December 11, 1999, as amended on July 29, 2010, July 22, 2013, and January 2, 2019);
- The Labor Code of Tajikistan (as amended on July 23, 2016);
- The Law “On Self-Governance Bodies in Towns and Villages” (as amended on April 4, 2019);
- The Tax Code of Tajikistan (as amended on July 4, 2020);
- Law on Volunteer Activity in Tajikistan (September 19, 2013, as amended on December 25, 2015);
- Regulation on Humanitarian Aid (August 8, 2015)
- Regulation on Auditing of the Charter Activity of CSOs by Ministry of Justice (January 10, 2016)
- Law on Association of Water users (January 2020)
- Law on amendments to the Code of Administrative Offences (January 2, 2020)
- Law on Amendments to the Tax Code of Tajikistan (January 2020)
- Law on Anti-Corruption (most recently amended on August 7, 2020)
- Law on Countering Extremism (most recently amended on January 2, 2020)
- Law on preventing and counteracting to legalization (laundering) of the proceeds of crime, terrorist financing, and financing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (most recently amended on May 17, 2018)
- Code on Administrative Offenses (CoAO) (most recently amended on July 4, 2020).
- Law on State Services (April 2, 2020)
Pending NGO Legislative / Regulatory Initiatives
- In 2019, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) created a new working group to develop a Law on Noncommercial Organizations (NCOs), in part to respond to FATF recommendations on preventing funding terrorism in the CSO sector. In May 2019, CSOs were given a limited opportunity to review the draft law. Since then, the status of the draft law is unclear, as it has reportedly been revised numerous times. The current text of the draft law remains unavailable to CSOs, but is expected to be submitted to the parliament after the adoption of new Civil Code.
- In April 2019, the Government created an interdepartmental working group to draft a new version of the Tax Code, with plans to adopt the new tax law in 2020. The Ministry of Finance is the authorized state body for coordinating the drafting process. The working group developed the text, which remains under development but is not publicly available.
- Upon recommendation from CSOs, the MoJ included the development of a new Law on Public Councils into its legislative plan for 2020. The new law aims to improve public oversight over the activities of state bodies. The draft law’s working group includes representatives of the MoJ, the President’s Apparatus, the Center for Legislation, CSOs, and university law professors. The working group expects to finalize the draft law by late fall 2020.
The Civil Code of Tajikistan defines non-commercial organizations (NCOs) as legal entities that do not seek to generate profit as their primary objective and do not distribute any profit among their members, founders or participants. The Civil Code (CC) recognizes a large number of organizational forms of NCOs: consumer cooperatives, public or religious organizations (associations), public foundations, institutions, and associations of legal persons (associations and unions).
The available forms of NCOs are defined as follows:
(1) A consumer cooperative is a voluntary membership association of citizens, established with the purpose of satisfying the material (proprietary) needs of its members, and realized through the unification of property (share) contributions by its members. (Article 128 of CC)
(2) A public or religious organization (association) is a voluntary association of citizens, established for the purpose of satisfying spiritual or other non-material needs. (Article 129 of CC)
The Law on Public Associations (PA) further defines and categorizes public associations into three groups:
- A public organization is, as a rule, a membership-based organization founded by citizens to pursue common activities and protect common interests in order to attain the statutory goals. (Article 8 of Law on PA)
- A public movement is a mass public association, which consists of participants and is not membership-based, which pursues social and other public benefit goals supported by the participants of the public movement. (Article 9 of the Law on PA)
- A body of public initiative is a public association, which is not membership-based, and aims jointly to address various social issues facing citizens at their place of residence and to implement programs in the locality where it was established. (Article 10 of the Law on PA)
(3) A public foundation is a non-commercial non-membership organization, founded by citizens or legal persons on the basis of voluntary property contributions, and pursuing social, charitable, cultural, educational or other public benefit purposes. (Article 130 of CC)
In addition, the Law on Microfinance Organizations establishes the micro-lending fund, which is a non-commercial microfinance organization operating with a certificate issued by the National Bank of Tajikistan and engaged in providing micro-loans and other services.
(4) An institution is an organization created by the owner for conducting administrative, cultural, social, or other non-commercial functions and financed by the owner in whole or in part. (Article 132 of CC)
(5) Commercial and non-commercial organizations can create a union of legal entities (association and union). Commercial organizations can create a non-commercial association (union) to coordinate their commercial activities and represent and defend their common property interests. Public and other organizations including institutions can create non-commercial associations (unions) of these organizations. (Article 133 of CC)
Of the more than 2,000 NCOs currently registered in Tajikistan; approximately 80% are public associations.
Public Benefit Status
The Tax Code defines “charitable activity” as “the activity performed by legal entities which consists of providing direct financial or other assistance (support), including in the form of unrequited transfers, to individuals in need of such assistance, or to non-profit organizations directly providing such assistance, including non-profit charitable organizations (Article 26), or scientific, educational, public information, library, medical, or other activities performed in the public interest.” The Tax Code also refers to the Law on Charitable Activity for a definition of “charitable activity”. (Article 17 of the Tax Code)
The Law on Charitable Activity separately defines charitable organizations as non-governmental, non-profit organizations, established in accordance with the legislation of the Republic of Tajikistan, and created for realization of charitable aims and carrying out activities for the public good or for a certain category of persons, as their main activity. (Article 2)
Charitable activity is voluntary activity by physical or legal persons which provides material or other help (support) for the following categories of beneficiaries:
- physical persons with low income or physical persons who need social adaptation and social protection;
- orphans, pre-school and other children’s institutions, as well as organizations providing care for such children;
- disabled or the elderly, and organizations providing care to them;
- physical persons who need medical support or special care, in the form of payment for medical or related services (including travel for such services), or other organizations having the status of medical institutions;
- educational institutions, including distribution of grants;
- institutions of science, culture and art;
- development of individual’s talents;
- protection of population and nature from pollution and other harmful effects; or
- prison facilities, if such activity is aimed at improving the conditions of maintenance or medical service of prisoners.
In terms of potential benefits of charitable status, the Government may provide material and financial support to youth organizations, children’s organizations, charitable organizations and organizations of the disabled; may provide favorable tax policy; may give children’s organizations the right to use school buildings, non-scholastic establishments, clubs, palaces and houses of culture, sports facilities and other structures, free of charge or on favorable terms. Significantly, however, no tax privileges are provided for charitable organizations in Tajikistan.
On February 21, 2018, the president of Tajikistan signed a Law on Making Amendments to the Tax Code, which generally improves the tax situation for all taxpayers, including CSOs. Amendments to Article 2 of the Tax Code resolve contradictions in the Tax Code in favor of the taxpayers; and establish that new provisions that would worsen the positions of taxpayers and (or) establish new liability for tax offenses do not have retroactive effect. Taxpayers hope that these positive changes will help CSOs to resolve issues with tax inspectors and defend their rights during inspections.
Barriers to Entry
Citizens aged 18 or older may become founders, members or participants in public associations, unless otherwise provided by this Law. Citizens aged 14 or older may become members or participants in youth public associations. Citizens aged 8 or older may become members or participants in children’s public associations.
Foreign nationals and stateless persons may be founders, members, or participants in public associations or NCOs, provided they are legally domiciled or have permanent residence in the Republic of Tajikistan.
Founders or members or participants in public associations may not include:
- Government agencies (except for the case stipulated in Article 11 of this Law);
- Persons whose connections with terrorist, extremist or separatist organizations have been proven in a court of law.
Currently, the Law on State Fees requires local public associations to pay the equivalent of approximately 38 USD at the time of registration. National public associations must pay the equivalent of approximately 75 USD. And international public associations must pay the equivalent of approximately 750 USD.
The registration process for public associations is overly bureaucratic, with a long list of documents required to be submitted to the Ministry of Justice. The same is true for foreign NGOs seeking to establish a branch office. Other types of NCOs, by contrast, including public foundations and institutions, are registered under the tax authorities based on the Law on the State Registration of Legal Entities and Individual Entrepreneurs, which provides a simplified registration process at a one-stop window.
Barriers to Operational Activity
The Law on Public Associations (PA) includes a number of barriers to operational activity.
For example, according to Article 12, PAs are categorized by, and therefore limited to, a defined territorial range of activity. An international PA operates within Tajikistan and one or several foreign states, while anational PA may carry out its activities within Tajikistan and alocal PA operates within an administrative area such as region (oblast), city or district. This territorial principle consequently restricts the operational activities of local PAs outside the region where they are registered.
In addition, the Law authorizes governmental authorities to engage in highly intrusive means of supervision of PAs, including the following:
-The power to summon resolutions of the organization’s governing body. The Ministry of Justice has the ability to demand documents relating to the details of an organization’s governance, including day-to-day policy decisions and supervision of the organization’s management.
– The power to send representatives to an organization’s events. The Law allows the Ministry to send a representative to all of an organization’s events, without restriction, including internal strategy sessions and grant selection meetings, for example.
On December 25, 2018, the parliament adopted amendments to the Law that were signed by the President on January 2, 2019. The key amendments were the following:
– PAs are required to post “financial reports, containing detailed information about incomes and expenditures.” However, the amendments include neither the specific reporting requirements, nor which government body will be responsible for developing the implementing regulation that establishes them.
– PAs are required to post the new financial reports on either their websites or the website of the Ministry of Justice. If the new reporting requirements require posting personal and financially sensitive information, PAs could be subject to harassment, extortion, and other negative consequences.
– PAs are required to have their own websites. However, this requires special skills and resources that most PAs do not have.
– PAs are required to “store information on internal and international transactions, for a five-year period after completion of such transactions” and “information on the purposes and goals of activities and on the certification of persons, who have the right to possess, control, or manage their activities, including information on implementors, members of the board, as well as trusted/ authorized persons, and to provide such information to the registration body.” These additional requirements are extremely vague and broad, potentially creating an additional administrative burden on PAs. The amendments also include neither the specific requirements for retaining such information, nor which government body shall develop the implementing regulation that establishes the requirements.
The situation for NCOs in recent years also indicates that the operating environment for civil society is becoming worse. One NCO called “Rushd” in Qurghonteppa was closed down by a court decision, while a NCO called “Notabene” in Dushanbe was forced to defend itself in court in 2015 against a lawsuit initiated by the Tax Committee seeking its closure. The Ministry of Justice, prosecutor’s office, labor regulator and Tax Committee are all conducting inspections of not only human rights NCOs, but also NCOs working on development, environmental, and social issues. Some NCOs have reported that the Tax Committee presented them with a letter from the State Committee on National Security requesting that the Tax Committee inspect certain NCOs. According to information that NCOs received unofficially from the Tax Committee, some international NCOs are also on the list of NCOs to be inspected.
Some NCOs that were audited by tax bodies must pay penalties ranging from $7,000 to $10,000, which is an excessively burdensome amount for local NCOs to pay.
Nevertheless, the most important recent change affecting civil society occurred on January 2, 2020, when the President of the Republic of Tajikistan signed into law amendments to the Code of the Republic of Tajikistan on Administrative Offenses (CoAO) (amendments). Amendments of particular concern to civil society organizations (CSOs) include:
- The penalty for managing the activities of public and religious associations that are unregistered, suspended, or prohibited by law is increased four-fold, from 50 to 200 estimate indices (from January 1, 2020, one estimate index is equal to 58 Tajikistan somoni, or approximately $6), up to approximately $1,200. Participation in the activities of such associations is now punishable by a penalty of up to 100 estimate indeces (approximately $600) instead of the previously applied penalty of seven estimate indeces (approximately $42).
- The penalty for funding the activities of illegal public or religious organizations for individuals is now 50 estimate indeces (approximately $300 instead of $72, as it was previously), for officials – 200 estimate indeces (or $1,200 instead of $300, as it was previously), and for legal entities – 1,000 estimate indecs (or $6,000 instead of $1,800, as it was previously).
The amendments to CoAO have also substantially increased the penalties for the following offenses:
- financing of political parties by foreign citizens and international organizations;
- implementation of religious activities by foreign organizations and citizens without registration;
- religious communities’ establishment of international relations with foreign organizations;
- non-compliance with requirements of legislation on combating the legalization (laundering) of proceeds from crime and the financing of terrorism.
Unfortunately, the Government never discussed these amendments with civil society. CSOs learned about them only after the official publication of the adopted amendments. While participation in and other activities relating to informal associations were considered an offense under the CoAO prior to the adoption of these new amendments, the relevant articles of the CoAO were rarely enforced by the government. CSOs, therefore, are more concerned about the relevant articles in the new amendments because they indicate that there will be stronger enforcement of those provisions against civil society.
On December 25, 2018, the Parliament adopted a new amendments to the Law on PAs that were signed by the President of Tajikistan on January 2, 2019. These amendments were adopted to implement and comply with the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) assessment report and are dedicated to strengthening efforts on Anti-Money Laundering/ Countering Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT). According to the new amendments, CSOs have to provide a financial report to the registering body (MoJ) that includes detailed information about income and expenditures. The MoJ is responsible for drafting the format of the financial report. Moreover, the new amendments contain some of the following requirements: retention of records about the internal and international financial operations for five years; provision of information about the activities and tasks of CSOs, including information about governance bodies, staff, members of organizations; and provision of information by the MoJ to authorized law enforcement agencies if it finds any risks regarding financing of terrorism and extremism.
The continuation of intrusive state audits of CSOs throughout all regions of Tajikistan continues to be a significant threat to the sustainability of civil society. State bodies such as the MoJ, tax bodies, and other authorities continue to carry out a growing number of audits of CSOs, which interfere in their work and create uncertainty for staff. The tax authorities and other state bodies continue to conduct more audits of local CSOs, including branches and representative offices of foreign CSOs. As a result of inspections, they are forced to pay significant fines. Due to ongoing economic difficulties resulting from the COVID-19 global pandemic and budget shortfalls, it is likely that CSOs will continue to face threats of audits and other harassment from various state bodies.
Barriers to Speech / Advocacy
There is no legal barrier limiting the ability of NCOs to engage in advocacy or public policy activities. All forms of public associations may participate in advocacy and lobbying activities.
According to Article 24 of the Law on Public Associations, public associations have the right to pursue the realization of their goals, and to:
- participate in policy-making by government and regulatory authorities in the manner and within the scope established by this Law and other laws;
- hold meetings, rallies, demonstrations, processions and other public events in compliance with the procedure established by the legislation of the Republic of Tajikistan;
- represent and protect its rights and the legal interests of its members and participants or other citizens at the state offices, organizations, public associations and courts;
- put forward initiatives on various aspects of community life and submit proposals to the Government; and
- obtain information from the Government as necessary for implementation of the statutory goals, except for the cases established by the law of the Republic of Tajikistan.
According to Article 4 of the Law on Presidential Elections, public associations can participate in organizing and conducting presidential elections.
Charities are expressly prohibited from using their assets to support political parties, movements, and campaigns.
Barriers to International Contact
On February 28, 2018, the Ministry of Education (MoE) introduced a decree that requires all students, teachers, professors, and rectors of Tajik educational institutions to obtain advance approval before traveling abroad. In addition, the heads of educational institutions must justify their travel and receive agreement from the MoE on any planned speeches or presentations to be delivered outside of the counntry. Upon return, all staff of educational institutions must provide a written report on the trip to the MoE. Many CSOs are concerned that these restrictions will create additional problems for organizations that collaborate with foreign educational institutions and participate in academic exchanges. Human rights organizations are also concerned that the new instruction contradicts the Declaration on Human Rights and the Constitution of Tajikistan by unduly restricting the free movement of Tajik citizens and restricting the academic rights of Tajik students.
Barriers to Resources
An NCO may engage in economic activities to the extent they advance the purposes for which the organization was created, but may not pursue the generation of profit as its primary purpose (Article 31, Law on Public Associations). Profit from the economic activities of NCOs, including charities, is generally taxed in the same manner as for commercial organizations.
In addition, amendments to the Law on Public Associations (PAs) from August 2015 require PAs to notify the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) about grants and other aid received from foreign sources. Based on these amendments, on March 31, 2016, the Government of Tajikistan approved the Regulation on Humanitarian Aid, which stipulates that grants received from a foreign source by a CSO must be registered in the Registry of Humanitarian aid. A CSO also must notify the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) about all grants received within 10 days.
Barriers to Assembly
Article 29 of Tajikistan’s Constitution provides that “Each citizen has the right to participate in lawfully established meetings, protests, demonstrations, and peaceful marches. No one may be forced to participate in these activities.” The 1998 Law on Assemblies, Meetings, Demonstrations and Marches (hereinafter “the Law”) governs the organization and conduct of assemblies.
On July 26, 2014, the Parliament adopted new amendments to the Law on Assemblies, which restrict foreign citizens from participating in meetings, rallies, demonstrations and marches. This makes the Law consistent with the constitutional limit of the right to assemble to citizens only.
Article 8 of the Law requires organizations to notify the authorities 15 days before a demonstration. Article 16 states, “The decision to permit or ban the event is to be taken within three days of receiving the notification by the local authorities.” There is no provision in the Law that allows exceptions to the requirement to give advance notice to the authorities; thus spontaneous demonstrations are apparently illegal.
Time, Place and Manner Restrictions
According to Article of 14 of the Law, demonstrations may not be allowed if their goals are to commit illegal actions or to carry out propaganda for committing illegal actions, or if the event endangers the life, health and security of citizens or violates their rights. If the event is likely to create disturbances to transportation, pose a danger to services essential to the life of citizens, or if the place and time coincide with another event announced earlier, or if public events are not permitted at the requested place, then the authorities are required to offer the organizers an alternative place to conduct the event. The Law does not recognize counter-demonstrations.
Article 10 of the Law includes a long list of places where assemblies are prohibited. Some of these places are off-limits for the ostensible reason of protecting the life and safety of citizens, such as near high-voltage lines and railroad tracks or on construction sites that are not safe for citizens. But the list also includes historic and cultural monuments, cemeteries and religious buildings, national parks and pilgrimage sites. The freedom to hold events in proximity to governmental buildings is limited as the work of governmental bodies must not be impeded. The Majlis of Deputies (state assemblies) may prescribe the permissible distance from public buildings where demonstrations may be held.
Criminal Penalties and Fines
Organizers or participants of an assembly who violate the terms of the order permitting the demonstration may be subject to a fine. In addition, under Article 19 of the Law, law enforcement officials may suspend or terminate a demonstration upon commission of an illegal act by the participants or upon violation of the order permitting the demonstration. The Criminal Code also provides for certain punishments in relation to violations of the law, including fines or up to two years imprisonment, if the act is committed within one year after the imposition of an administrative penalty.
|UN Universal Periodic Review Reports||Tajikistan Universal Periodic Review|
|Reports of UN Special Rapporteurs||Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression on his mission to Tajikistan|
|USIG (United States International Grantmaking) Country Notes||Not available|
|Amnesty International||Tajikistan Report (2020)|
|Human Rights Watch||Tajikistan Report (2021)|
|U.S. State Department||Human Rights Report 2020|
|Fragile States Index Reports||Foreign Policy: Fragile States Index|
|IMF Country Reports||Not available|
|International Commission of Jurists||Not available|
|International Federation for Human Rights||Human rights in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan: How realistic is to expect further results after and EU open debate with civil society?|
|International Center for Not-for-Profit Law Online Library||Tajikistan|
While we aim to maintain information that is as current as possible, we realize that situations can rapidly change. If you are aware of any additional information or inaccuracies on this page, please keep us informed; write to ICNL at firstname.lastname@example.org.
European Union: It is important to expand cooperation between media, civil society, and the government (August 12, 2020) (Russian)
Since the beginning of 2020 , the National Association of Independent Media of Tajikistan (NANSMIT), in partnership with Thomson Media (Germany) and the Tajik human rights center “Your Advocate,” have developed and launched online courses on access to information in Tajik and Russian. According to the chairman of NANSMIT Nuriddin Karshiboev, the courses help media professionals navigate the norms of laws, improve article quality, and interact with officials when seeking public information.
CSOs express concern about new amendments to Tajik legislation (July 4, 2020) (Russian)
The President of Tajikistan, despite the appeals from CSOs and journalists, signed amendments to the Code of Administrative Offenses and the Criminal Code on July 4, 2020. The amendments impose fines and criminal penalties for failure to wear a protective mask, the spread of dangerous infectious diseases, publication of “inaccurate” information about COVID-19, amongst other issues.
Ministry of Finance of Tajikistan is ready to discuss the draft Tax Code with Civil Society (April 28, 2020) (Russian)
The Ministry of Finance of Tajikistan responded to the request of civil society to provide them with a draft Tax Code of the Republic of Tajikistan for review and preparation of their proposals. Earlier, ten public organizations sent a letter to the Minister of Finance of the country with a request to organize a joint discussion of the draft Tax Code with civil society.
Tajik Civil Society asks to be included in the process of finalizing the new Tax Code (April 3, 2020) (Russian)
A group of civil society organizations wrote a letter to the Ministry of Finance and asked to receive the draft Tax Code for review and preparation of proposals.
Fine for participating in unregistered organizations increases significantly (January 17, 2020) (Russian)
As amended by the CoAO, the fine for managing the activities of unregistered, suspended, or prohibited by law public and religious associations was quadrupled to 200 indicators for settlements (11.6 thousand somoni). Previously, the maximum fine for such an offense was 50 indicators (2.9 thousand somoni).
Parliamentarians and civil activists discussed opportunities of social entrepreneurship development in Tajikistan (January 10, 2020) (Russian)
Deputies of the Tajik parliament and CSO representatives discussed opportunities and prospects for the development of social entrepreneurship in the Republic of Tajikistan on January 9 in Dushanbe.
Torture, ill-treatment, the death penalty and shrinking space for NGOs (June 2019)
The International Partnership for Human Rights, the NGO Coalition against Torture and Impunity in Tajikistan, and Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland) prepared a joint submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee ahead of the consideration of Tajikistan’s Third Periodic Report at the Committee’s 126th session on July 2-3, 2019.
Tajik Civil Society Seeks Cancellation of Rising Internet Costs (March 2019)
Civil society of Tajikistan calls on the Anti-monopoly Service under the Government of Tajikistan to respect the constitutional rights of citizens in connection with the upcoming increase in the cost of the Internet.
Amendments to the Law on Public Associations (January 2019)
The Parliament’s upper chamber approved amendments to the Law on Public Associations, according to which every public organization is now obliged to have its own internet website including the mandatory publication of financial statements.
How many Tajik NGOs received money from abroad? (January 2019)
The Ministry of Justice reported that in 2018 Tajik NGOs received grants from abroad totaling 750 million somoni.
Senior UN official calls for free and open space for civil society in Tajikistan (May 2018)
Speaking at the end of a two-day visit to Tajikistan, Andrew Gilmour, United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, called for civil society space to be opened up, the UN Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner reported. He stressed the need for human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and others to be allowed to carry out their crucial work unhindered by intimidation, unnecessary administrative inspections, and the fear of prosecution. Gilmour also urged the authorities to do more to strengthen the independence of lawyers, which would enhance access to justice. Without a vibrant civil society and the exercise of fundamental freedoms, he insisted, “neither security nor development can be truly sustainable – as we have seen in so many places.”
Tajikistan joins UN convention on persons with disabilities (March 2018)
The Tajik president has signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
More than 854 million somoni allocated to support public associations (January 2018) (Russian)
In 2017, from Tajikistan and abroad grants worth 854,117 somoni were received to support the activities of public associations in the country.
International organizations and NGOs will be checked for corruption (June 2017)
International and non-governmental organizations working in Tajikistan, political parties and public associations have been obliged to provide an anti-corruption body with a detailed assessment of corruption risks each year.
Campaign entitled “I am against torture today, tomorrow, and always!” Implemented (June 2017)
Within the framework of an EU-funded human rights project, the Civil Society Coalition against Torture and Impunity in Tajikistan is implementing the campaign “I am against torture today, tomorrow, always!” on the occasion of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, which is celebrated annually on June 26.
Second National Plan on Implementation of recommendations provided by countries-members of UN Human Rights Council within the UPR framework is adopted in Tajikistan (June 2017)
“During these thematic discussions, participants representing the state working group on UPR, public organizations, international organizations and other representatives of civil society proposed activities to be included in the National Plan of Action. Based on the results of the thematic discussions, the National Plan was drafted by the Division on Human Rights Guarantees, which was previously discussed with civil society,” said Deputy Director of the Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law, Tahmina Juraeva
Tajikistan created favorable conditions for the activities of NGOs (June 2017)
Emomali Rahmon, speaking at a meeting of the Public Council of the Republic of Tajikistan, spoke about the government’s cooperation with civil society and NGOs. According to him, the Public Council contributes through propaganda and explanatory work in the implementation of the three strategic goals of the state – ensuring the country’s energy independence, avoiding communication isolation and protecting food security.
MoJ Discusses Draft Notification Format with CSOs (May 2016)
On May 4, the Ministry of Justice organized a constructive dialogue with CSOs and discussed the issues with registration of grants and draft Notification format.
Tajik CSOs Face More Controls (April 2016)
The Tajik government has adopted a decree that public organizations should notify the Ministry of Justice about their grants within ten days.
Journalist Community of Tajikistan against New Amendments to Law on Media (February 2016)
Four Tajik journalists’ organizations – Union of Journalists, the Media Council, the National Association of Independent Media, and the Organization “Homa” – issued a statement in which the proposed amendments to the Law on the Periodical Press and other Mass Media were condemned.
Human rights Organizations Concerned over Shrinking Civil Society Space (September 2015)
In a written statement to the 2015 OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, a number of human rights organization express concern about shrinking civil society space in Central Asia.
The Government Does Not Know What It Wants From CSOs (August 2015) (Russian)
The Government of Tajikistan from the beginning did not know what it wanted from CSOs. Most likely, it will tolerate CSOs because of the desire of Western partners. In addition, the Government has viewed CSOs as a tool for attracting foreign capital.
Message of CSOs to Tajik authorities: We are Your Friends, not Spies(July 2015) (Russian)
The head of the public organization “Nota Bene” Nigina Bakhrieva noted on July 27 in Dushanbe that the Tajik authorities have a negative attitude towards NGOs as they began a “harsh” audit of the NGOs.
Lawsuit against Public Foundation “Nota Bene” by Tax Authorities (July 2015) (Russian)
Nigina Bakhrieva, head of the Public Foundation “Nota Bene”, and well-known human rights activist said that the Tax Committee filed a lawsuit against Nota bene to close it down as the organization misused the gaps in Law during the registration.
Minister of Justice: CSOs Received $4.5 billion Somoni from Foreign Sources (July 2015) (Russian)
The Minister of Justice, Rustam Shohmurod, said at a press conference that the purpose of making amendments to the Law on Public Associations is not limiting the activities of NGOs or the violation of their rights, but to find out the purpose of the allocated foreign grants. “We only want to determine that the foreign grants are not provided to support the terrorists and extremists”, he noted.
State Authorities Start to Audit CSOs (July 2015) (Russian)
Tajik State authorities started an audit mostly of the CSOs which are working on human rights. The leaders of the human rights organizations reported that the audits have been going on for over a month by the Ministry of Justice, General Prosecutor’s Office and the Tax Committee of Tajikistan.
The Control on the CSOs will be Stricter(June 2015)
On June 10, the Lower House of the Tajik parliament considered amendments to the Law on Public Associations. According to a source in the government, the amendments provide for stricter control over financial income and expenditure of public associations of the country.
Grants of Tajik CSOs will be Controlled by State Authorities (June 2015)
On June 10, the Lower House of the Tajik Parliament unanimously supported the government’s proposed amendments to the Law on Public Associations, which include stricter monitoring of financial flows from abroad to the accounts of organizations in Tajikistan.
U.S. Envoy Urges Civil Society To Get Involved In Fight Against Radicalization (November 2014)
The U.S. ambassador to Tajikistan, Susan M. Elliott, has called for a greater role for civil society groups in helping to combat the fight against radicalization in Central Asia. Speaking in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe, on February 24 at the opening of a three-day conference for regional experts on regional cooperation and effective measures to combat the phenomenon of foreign militants, Elliott said that civil-society groups should be involved in “countering [militant] groups and the propaganda that they disseminate via the Internet.”
Drop Draft Legislation Restricting NGO Access to Funding(November 2014)
The World Movement has joined civil society organizations from Tajikistan and around the world to protest proposed amendments to Tajikistan’s Law on Public Associations. In a joint letter addressed to the government of Tajikistan, the signatories strongly urged the country’s authorities to respect the right of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to have unhindered access to funding for their work, including from sources abroad. The recent initiative to regulate and restrict access of NGOs to financial assistance is under consideration by the government, and runs counter to international standards protecting the right to freedom of association and risks endangering the work of NGOs in the country.
Draft report on monitoring closed institutions presented (October 2014) (Russian)
The presentation of the preliminary report on the results of monitoring closed institutions in Tajikistan was held on Monday, September 15 in Dushanbe. The event was organized by the NGO Coalition against Torture with the support of the Institute of the Ombudsman and the Swiss Cooperation Office.
Tajik student freed, but charges linger (October 2014)
Staring down the prospect of a decade or more in a Tajik prison, Alexander Sodiqov began to lose hope. Sodiqov, a PhD student at the University of Toronto, was arrested on charges of high treason in mid-June while conducting research in Khorog, the capital of Tajikistan’s restive Gorno-Badakhshan province. He was detained for a month in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital, before authorities released him on July 22 – only to bar him from leaving the country. Earlier this month, Sodiqov was finally allowed to return to Canada, but he remains under investigation” in Tajikistan – a tenuous legal situation that has thrown into question his ability to ever go back. “Alexander Sodiqov’s case illustrates the limitations on the rights of freedom of expression of academics, journalists and human rights defenders in Tajikistan,” said Rachel Bugler, Amnesty International’s expert on Central Asia.
Rare Protests Helped by Authorities’ Invisible Hand? (May 2013)
In April, protestors assembled to criticize a Ukrainian court decision not to extradite former Prime Minister Abdumalik Abdullajanov, who is wanted in Dushanbe for attempting to overthrow President Imomali Rakhmon back in the mid-1990s. Abdullajanov – who has refugee status in the United States – was released from a Ukrainian jail on April 4. The UN urged Kyiv not to send him to Tajikistan, reasoning that it was unlikely he would receive a fair trial at home. Under Tajik law, any demonstration, even if only one person participates, must receive official permission. Local media estimated that about 200 people overall participated in simultaneous protests on April 5, waving banners calling Abdullajanov a criminal and demanding that he face justice. About 15 people organized a picket outside UN offices the next day.
Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society established in Tajikistan (April 2013)
The Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society has been established in Tajikistan. A statement released by the Coalition notes that establishment of the Coalition is conditioned by the fact that “Tajik democracy and civil society are in danger.”
Dushanbe Web Regulator Creating “Preposterous Impediments” (January 2013)
In late December, the government’s communications agency ordered Internet service providers (ISPs) to block 131 websites for “technical” reasons. Then suddenly, a few days later, the ISPs were told, in effect; ‘never mind.’ Internet users in Tajikistan are getting accustomed to such erratic behavior from the state communications agency and its mercurial boss, Beg Zukhurov. For example, Zukhurov blocked Facebook twice in 2012, supposedly because he was upset that Tajiks were using the social network to criticize Tajikistan’s long-serving president. He’s also overseen the repeated blocking of Tajikistan’s leading independent news agency, Asia-Plus, as punishment for its critical reporting. But the December list appeared to be a random compilation of sites that included, besides Twitter and several popular Russian social networks, lots of obscure entertainment portals that few in Tajikistan care about.
NGOs feeling heat in winter (November 2012)
As the leader of a civil rights-focused non-governmental organization, Dilrabo Samadova said she was used to getting hassled by authorities about her group’s activities. But recent government actions to put the clamps on civil society groups like hers in Tajikistan took her by surprise.
Court ruling silences whistleblower on torture, hazing (October 2012)
A court in Tajikistan has ordered the closure of a prominent rights group, citing a variety of alleged technical violations of its operating license, including moving offices without duly notifying authorities, engaging in unauthorized training sessions involving high school students and operating an improperly registered website.
EU statement on closure of the Association of Young Lawyers “Amparo” (November 2012)
On Thursday November 1, the European Union Delegation to Tajikistan issued the following statement in agreement with the EU Heads of Mission in Tajikistan. The statement, in particular, says that the EU Delegation to Tajikistan is deeply concerned about the closure of the Association of Young Lawyers ”Amparo” following a ruling by a court in the northern city of Khujand. “The EU Delegation is convinced that it is in Tajikistan’s best interest to have a strong and independent civil society, and it believes that the closure of the NGO ”Amparo” could negatively affect the further development of civil society in the country.
Ministry of Education prohibits students from participating in educational events organized by international organizations (October 2012)
Under an instruction released by the Ministry of Education, students are prohibited from participating in educational events organized by international organizations.
Human rights group shut down in Khujand in politically motivated decision (October 2012)
A court in the northern city of Khujand, the capital of Sughd province, has shut down a human rights group, saying it operated without a proper license. In a ruling handed down on October 24, the Khujand city court shut down the Association of Young Lawyers, Amparo. Junayd Ibodov, a lawyer for Amparo, denounced the ruling and vowed to lodge an appeal against it. He considers the court’s decision illegal and unfounded. According to Ibodov, the case is politically motivated. “We do not agree with this decision and intend to lodge an appeal against it,” the lawyer said.
Tajik authorities must respect human rights and ease access for NGOs to conflict region (July 2012)
Tajik authorities should respect human rights during a security operation in Gorno Badakhshan, a semi-autonomous region of eastern Tajikistan, Human Rights Watch said in a statement. In addition, the Tajik government should ease access to the region for Tajik civil society groups, the media, and international nongovernmental organizations. The government may reasonably restrict the movements of certain people or groups in conducting its operations in Gorno Badakhshan. But these restrictions should be proportionate and should not result in a total closure that puts people at greater risk.
USAID and ICNL host Tajik Delegation to examine Kazakh Government cooperation with civil society organizations (May 2012)
On May 20-25, a delegation of Tajik Government officials met with their Kazakh counterparts in Almaty and Astana to examine laws, trends and practices in both countries on providing government support to civil society organizations that deliver social services. The week-long series of meetings was organized by the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
OSCE urges Tajikistan to end shutdown of Facebook and other websites critical of leader (April 2012)
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has urged Tajikistan to end a shutdown of Facebook and several Russian-language websites that published material critical of the nation’s leader, President Imomali Rakhmon. Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE representative on freedom of the media, said in an appeal to the Tajik government she hoped that the ban of Facebook and the other websites would not set a precedent. She said the “Internet should remain an open public forum for discussion and free expression of opinions, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” She said she sent a letter to Tajik Foreign Minister Hamrokhon Zarifi on March 5 to express hope that “access to Facebook and the four news websites would be restored without delay.” Facebook’s popularity has soared in Tajikistan, with membership doubling last year to 26,000 people. Several Facebook groups openly discuss politics and some users have been critical of the authorities.
Concept of tax policy in Tajikistan discussed by NGOs (December 2011)
The best human rights activist is lawyer Shukhrat Kudratov (December 2011)
NGOs in Tajikistan appeal to Rahmon and Medvedev (November 2011)
Tajik NGOs concerned about new changes to tax code (February 2011)
Tajik court bans NGO helping homeless children (July 2010)
Change you can’t believe in (March 2010)
Tajik judges seek millions from weeklies in civil libel case (February 2010)
Media watchdog urges Tajik officials to end media harassment (February 2010)
The foregoing information was collected by the ICNL, LLC Affiliate Office in Tajikistan.