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Rights Groups Demand Immediate Release Of Tajik Lawyers

Human Rights Watch (HRW) and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) have urged authorities in Tajikistan to "immediately and unconditionally release" a group of jailed human rights lawyers.

A joint statement from the rights groups on May 4 said that lawyers Shuhrat Qudratov, Buzurgmehr Yorov, Nuriddin Mahkamov, and Dilbar Dodojonova, as well two sons of the prominent lawyer Ishok Tabarov, had been "imprisoned or detained on politically motivated charges... in retaliation for representing political opponents or their willingness to take on politically sensitive cases."

The statement also says other prominent human rights lawyers in Tajikistan "have received death threats and have been threatened with trumped-up charges."

Steve Swerdlow, a Central Asia researcher atHuman Rights Watch, said Tajikistan's government is putting pressure on "lawyers it deems trouble" by "locking up those who represent the opposition alongside its political foes."