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ICC Note: Tajikistan has made it more difficult for religious minorities to practice their faith by implementing amendments to the already restrictive Religion Laws. Now religious organizations must report all of their activity to the state, the state has increased control of religious education, and the state must approve the appointment of certain religious leaders.

02/21/2018 Tajikistan (Forum 18) – Tajikistan’s latest amendments adding more restrictions to the already restrictive Religion Law came into force on 10 January. “Instead of improving the Law, the amendments worsened it and made it more restrictive,” human rights defender Faizinisso Vokhidova complained to Forum 18. “The Law represents total control and is unjust.”

The amendments: allow the state to restrict manifestations of freedom of religion or belief on a wide range of grounds not permitted under international human rights obligations; increase religious organisations’ requirements to report all their activity to the state; require state approval for the appointment of all Imams; and increase state control both on religious education at home, and on those travelling abroad for such education (see below).

Religious communities which asked not to be identified told Forum 18 they already have to submit to the state full details of all their activity and this seems set to increase still further. “We are afraid to give more personal details of our members and religious activity,” one community said (see below).

But parliamentary deputy Muradullo Davlatov – a former state religious affairs official – defended the new restrictions. “We do not need to be afraid of control,” he told Forum 18. “In all normal countries of the world religious organisations are controlled” (see below).

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For interviews with Amy Penn, ICC’s Central Asia Correspondent, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected]