Religion Law amendments allow the state to restrict freedom of religion or belief on illegitimate grounds, increase religious communities’ reporting obligations, require state approval for all imams, and increase state control on religious education. “The Law represents total control and is unjust”, human rights defender Faizinisso Vokhidova stated.
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 told 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
People from a variety of religious communities, who asked not to be identified for fear of state reprisals, 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 leader said
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 organizations are controlled