On May 8, the chairman of the Islamic Revival Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) Muhiddin Kabiri sent an open letter [taj] to President Emomali Rahmon, urging him to pardon all inmates who remain in jail for crimes committed during the country’s civil war. This year, Tajikistan celebrates the 15th anniversary of the peace deal that put an end to the violent conflict which claimed an estimated 50,000 lives from 1992-1997. In his letter, Kabiri asked the Tajik leader to show mercy and to mark the anniversary by granting a full amnesty to all opposition and pro-government militants who are still in jail.
It has been a tradition in the country to pardon thousands of inmates on major anniversaries. Since 1991, Tajik authorities have carried out 13 amnesties, releasing from jail more than 110,000 individuals. Last year, when the country celebrated the 20th anniversary of its independence, about 15,000 individuals serving prison sentences or being placed in pre-trial detention were either freed or had their terms reduced. The 1997 peace accords granted an amnesty to all individuals who had taken part in the civil war and agreed to put down their weapons. However, that amnesty as well as all subsequent ones did not extend to hundreds of detainees who had been convicted of “grave crimes” such as murder and terrorism committed during the civil war.
According to Kabiri, most such inmates have already served more than half their terms, becoming old and suffering from deteriorated health conditions in overcrowded and decrepit correction facilities. “Today, these are mostly old and sick individuals who pose no real threat to society,” he wrote.