Tuesday, May 22, 2012 -
Independent United Nations torture expert Juan Mendez wound up his recent trip to Tajikistan with a call to end torture in the ex-Soviet Central Asian country.
Despite its introduction of a legal definition of torture and specifying penalties, the mistreatment of detainees in the country’s prisons and detention centers remains commonplace, the UN’s special envoy on torture said in a statement on Saturday.
He urged the country’s leadership to make a “sustained effort and commitment from the highest levels of authority and a clear pledge of ‘zero tolerance’ for torture in Tajikistan,” said the UN news release.
Much of the violence and torture was inflicted by law enforcement and prosecuting agencies to extract confessions from detainees.
But relatively light penalties for people convicted of torture indicated that the problem is not being treated seriously.
“If there is no recognition that there is a problem with mistreatment, whether systematic or not, mistreatment is not likely to go away. On the contrary, it is likely to increase as soon as attention shifts to other matters,” Mendez said in the statement published on ohchr.org.
Mendez issued the report at the end of his nine-day mission to Tajikistan, his first to the country.
Despite the country’s appalling human rights record, U.S. and European leaders have tried to gain favor from the country’s strong-arm President Emomali Rahmon. The impoverished mountainous state has great strategic importance for NATO’s military operations in southern neighbor Afghanistan.