A court in Tajikistan on Jan. 13 sentenced Sukhrat Kudratov, an award-winning human rights lawyer, to nine years in prison for bribery and fraud. Kudratov, who was named human rights defender of the year in 2011 by the Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, represented political official Zaid Saidov in 2013 after he was arrested for starting a new political party. Before his arrest in July 2014, Kudratov also represented victims of torture, political activists and accused religious extremists. Many see Kudratov's imprisonment as a warning against criticism of the authoritarian government. Steve Swerdlow of Human Rights Watch (HRW) called the action "a serious setback for the freedom of expression."
Tajikistan has long been criticized for its use of harassment and torture. Amnesty International reported in July 2012 that torture, beatings and ill-treatment of detainees are common practice in Tajikistan. The human rights group claimed that the country lacks measures adequately protecting detainees from abuses and ill-treatment, and noted that there are more incentives than deterrence for police officers to engage in such practices.
From Jurist, Jan. 13. Used with permission.