DUSHANBE -- Tajikistan's lower chamber of parliament has approved a mass amnesty affecting more than 16,000 people to mark the 30th anniversary of the Central Asian nation's independence on September 9.
Deputy Prosecutor-General Dilshod Talbakzoda, who presented the bill to lawmakers in the Majlisi Namoyandagon (Assembly of Representatives) on September 6, said that of those affected by the amnesty, around 10,700 individuals will be released from penitentiaries or cases against them will be closed.
According to the mass amnesty originally proposed by President Emomali Rahmon, more than 9,500 convicts would be released from penitentiaries of different security levels, probes against some 1,150 individuals will be stopped, and the prison terms of another 5,300 inmates will be shortened.
The presidential service also said at the time the bill was proposed that the amnesty will affect mainly women, individuals younger than 18 and older than 55, disabled people, inmates with serious illnesses, people with state awards, war veterans, and foreign nationals.
The bill still needs to be approved by the parliament’s upper chamber, the Majlisi Milli (National Assembly), before Rahmon signs it into law.
It is not clear if the clemency act will affect political prisoners in the tightly controlled former Soviet republic, though previous mass amnesties in Tajikistan have not affected individuals convicted on politically motivated charges.
Individuals sentenced to life in prison, those who committed a crime after receiving a previous pardon, people who committed crimes while serving prison sentences, and inmates who systematically violated prison regulations, will not be included in the amnesty.
Rights groups say Rahmon, who has ruled Tajikistan since 1992, has used the security forces, judicial system, and other levers of power to sideline opponents and suppress dissent.
The last mass amnesty in Tajikistan was announced in October 2019 ahead of the 25th anniversary of the country's constitution that is marked on November 6 each year.