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Tajikistan Creating Competing Ombudsman Offices

Rahmatillo Zoirov
Rahmatillo Zoirov
KHUJAND, Tajikistan -- Rahmatillo Zoirov, the chief of Tajikistan's Social Democratic Party and head of the Consortium of Legal Consultants nongovernmental organization, says 50 public ombudsman offices will be established by the end of the year, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Zoirov says anyone can apply for the public ombudsman positions and that those selected for the post will be named in mid-September.

The 50 people chosen will receive training under a program sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) through the end of the year.

They will then begin legal counseling, defending people's rights, and even representing some people in court while also informing international organizations -- such as the OSCE -- about the office's activities.

Faizinisso Vohidova, a human rights activist in northern Sughd Province, said she will apply for an ombudsman position.

Tajik President Emomali Rahmon recently introduced the official ombudsman post and appointed Zarif Alizoda to lead the office, which has 20 representatives throughout Tajikistan.

Zoirov said the duties of the official ombudsman and the public ombudsman will not overlap or obstruct each other.

He said that, for example, the public ombudsman can help the official ombudsman's office to prepare an annual report for the parliament.

Matlabsho Sarkanov, a representive of the official ombudsman in Sughd, said he looks positively on the idea of the public ombudsman offices but that only time will tell if the two can coexist.