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Tajikistan: Upcoming court proceedings to dissolve the Association of Young Lawyers, Amparo
Court proceedings to close down the Association of Young Lawyers (Amparo) are expected to start by the end of August. The proceedings before the Khujand City Court have been initiated by the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Justice of the Sughd Province.
Amparo is one of the most active human rights organisations in Tajikistan, composed of more than 40 young human rights lawyers providing free legal advice and human rights education.
Amparo was informed of the civil case opened against them on 6 August 2012. It is reported that the Ministry of Justice and the Department of Justice of the Sughd Province started an audit of Amparo on 28 June 2012.
The audit lasted one day, and on 29 June a legal suit was filed against Amparo on the basis that the association violated its own charter as well as the Law on Public Associations and should therefore be dissolved.
The alleged violations included the following:
that Amparo should have re-registered following amendments to its Charter;
that it did not convene a General Assembly to approve a new legal address;
that it operated in a number of districts without applying to open a district branch;
that setting up a website for the organisation contravenes its Charter as well as the CSO Law;
that it did not appoint a Board of Directors;
and, that it conducted activities in schools without applying for the relevant licence.
Process marred by procedural irregularities
The process was marred by a number of procedural irregularities. Amparo was not informed of the audit nor given a chance to provide information to counter the claims. According to article 34 of the Law on Public Associations, when some of the activities of an association are deemed to be in breach of the law the association must be notified in written form.
Moreover, the organisation must be granted a period of one month in order to rectify the issues raised. Neither of these provisions were respected.
Furthermore, according to article 17 of the Law on the Inspection of Economic Entities – the provisions of which applies to audits on public associations – monitoring bodies are obliged to provide the organisation with a written copy of the audit's report and findings. This provision was also not complied with.
Members of Amparo maintain that the allegations against them are unfounded and their activities do not violate the charter of the organisation or applicable laws.
Shortly before the audit was carried out, Amparo was refused permission to hold its planned human rights education events.
Front Line Defenders is concerned at the proceedings initiated against Amparo and the manner in which they were carried out, and believes that they are solely motivated by the organisation's legitimate human rights work.