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Tajik 'Police' Seek To Improve Image With Name Change


Abdurahim Qahhorov

Abdurahim Qahhorov

DUSHANBE -- Tajik Interior Minister Abdurahim Qahhorov said a new draft law on the police would officially rename the "militsia" as "police," RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Qahhorov told RFE/RL on April 8 that the term "militsia" implies a nonprofessional, voluntary force, while Tajik Interior Ministry officers are professionals and should therefore be called police officers not "militsia."

Some Tajik affairs analysts say citizens have no respect for Tajik police, which have a reputation for incompetence, corruption, the use of illegal interrogation techniques, and torture. They suggest that the proposed name change is an attempt to change that image.

Russia recently passed an analogous law reforming the militia and renaming it "police."

Former militsia officer Junaidullo Ibodov told RFE/RL that the Tajik police force needs to have skilled officers if the name change is going to be more than purely cosmetic.

Qahhorov was speaking after the signing of a cooperation agreement with Ambassador Ivar Vikki, head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) office in Dushanbe.

Vikki said the OSCE cooperates with Tajikistan on police reform, fighting human trafficking, and promoting awareness of international human rights standards.

The OSCE has already sponsored several such programs in Tajikistan. Last year it trained staff for five specially created centers for victims of domestic violence.

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