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Jehovah’s Witnesses

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TAJIKISTAN

Imprisoned for Their Faith

On February 28, 2019, a court in the city of Khujand placed 68-year-old Shamil Khakimov in pretrial detention for up to two months. Prosecutors and police are preparing a criminal case against him on the fabricated charge of ‘inciting religious hatred.’  * Mr. Khakimov, a widower who suffers from high blood pressure and is still recovering from major leg surgery, faces between five and ten years’ imprisonment if convicted.

Shamil Khakimov

Mr. Khakimov is one of 18 Witnesses in Khujand and nearby towns in northern Tajikistan who were interrogated by officers of the Department of Organized Crime Control (DOCC) during the latter part of January and continuing through early February. On January 28, he received a phone call from an individual who was later identified as a member of the DOCC of the Sughd Region. The next day, police officers summoned some of Mr. Khakimov’s non-Witness acquaintances and fellow believers and questioned them about him. Then, on February 1, the Khujand office of the DOCC summoned Mr. Khakimov. After searching him, the officers began interrogating him about how he became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and about the structure of the Witnesses’ organization. He was not offered legal assistance.

The police officers detained Mr. Khakimov for eight hours and deprived him of medical treatment for his postsurgical dressing. When the police finally took him home, they seized his laptop, tablet, Bible, several religious books and brochures, and his passport. Without his passport, Mr. Khakimov was unable to access his pension funds to continue the medical care he needed to recover from his surgery.

On February 26, the police arrested him. Two days later, at the request of the Sughd Regional Prosecutor’s Office, a judge at the Khujand City Court ruled to place him in pretrial detention. On March 12, a panel of three judges at the Sughd Regional Court upheld the ruling. On April 23, the Khujand City Court extended his detention until May 26, 2019, without notifying his attorney of the hearing. Then just two days prior to the end of his term, on May 24, the same court again extended his detention until June 26, 2019.

Before his arrest, Mr. Khakimov filed two separate complaints with the Regional Prosecutor’s Office against the actions of the DOCC, but he has not received a response to either of them. He is in good spirits but is still in pain following his surgery. The prison doctor advised him to avoid standing for lengthy periods and stated that he is not required to stand up every time an officer enters his cell. Mr. Khakimov was transferred to a strict regime colony, under the pretext that the hospital in this prison will be able to provide better medical treatment.

Time Line

  1. May 24, 2019

    Khujand City Court extends Mr. Khakimov’s detention until June 26, 2019.

  2. April 29, 2019

    Sughd Regional Court upholds Mr. Khakimov’s extension of detention.

  3. April 23, 2019

    Khujand City Court extends Mr. Khakimov’s detention until May 26, 2019.

  4. March 12, 2019

    Sughd Regional Court upholds Khujand City Court decision to place Mr. Khakimov in pretrial detention for two months.

  5. February 28, 2019

    Khujand City Court places Mr. Khakimov in pretrial detention for two months.

  6. February 26, 2019

    Mr. Khakimov is arrested on fabricated charge of ‘inciting religious hatred.’

  7. February 1, 2019

    Shamil Khakimov is summoned to the police office, searched, and interrogated. After detaining him for eight hours, the police take Mr. Khakimov to his home, where they seize his personal belongings and passport.

  8. Late January–Early February 2019

    Officers of the DOCC in the city of Khujand search five homes and interrogate 18 Witnesses, some for up to 14 hours.

^ par. 2 Article 189 (2) of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Tajikistan.