Chairwoman Hautala addressed on 15.3. the European Parliament – Tajikistan Parliamentary Cooperation Committee Meeting. She was asked to introduce the issue of political developments in Tajikistan, concerning human rights and democratisation process in particular. She underlined that as the EU makes continuous effort to improve its own human rights record, this is also expected form partners of the EU, including Tajikistan. [:]In this vein Hautala noted that on 16th of February strongly condemned the attack on Hikmatullo Saifullozoda, Chief Editor of Najot newspaper, and a member of the political council of the Islamic Rebirth Party of Tajikistan (IRPT). In their statement, the EU Heads of Mission considered this unprovoked and violent attack on Mr Saifullozoda an act of intimidation aimed against individual rights to freedom of political and media expression.
Despite evident challenges that remain, Hautala was please to note that progress in the remit of rule of law, democracy and human rights enabled a commencement of an EU-Tajikistan human rights dialogue in 2008. However, while success in this regard is to be welcomed, it must be noted that serious human rights concerns remain. Freedom House ranked Tajikistan’s situation of political rights 6 out of 7, 7 being the worst and the Economist magazine has ranked Tajikistan in its 2010 Democracy Index to the place 149 out of 167. Hautala expressed concern in particular over the restrictions of freedom of expression and clampdown of the press. Women’s rights are also a matter of concern but most alarmingly, the reports overt torture and ill-treatment by the law enforcement forces.
She underlined that European Parliament expects that Tajikistan, as a political partner of the EU, to promptly address these issues. She assured the parliamentarians from Dushanbe that they will have the support, financial as well as technical, of European Union in this effort.