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Tajikistan Criminalizes Spreading Coronavirus, Fines Anyone Not Wearing A Mask

People in Tajikistan can now be fined for not wearing a mask.
People in Tajikistan can now be fined for not wearing a mask.

Tajikistan’s parliament has voted to criminalize anyone found negligently infecting others with the coronavirus.

The bill, passed on June 10, provides for a prison sentence of between 2 and 5 years for first-time offenders who spread the disease in a negligent manner. If someone spreads the disease more than once, they can face up to 10 years in prison.

Anyone found guilty of deliberately spreading the virus can also be punished by up to 10 years in prison.

Speaking to RFE/RL's Tajik Service, Ravshan Rajabzoda, deputy chairman of the lower house's Committee on Legislation and Human Rights, said the aim of the law is not to punish people.

"The goal is to prevent infectious diseases that still exist in our country today," he said.

Parliament also approved fines of up to $28 for anyone not wearing a mask in public or failing to practice physical distancing of two meters.

Other amendments to the criminal code allow individuals to be fined up to $112 for disseminating false information about the coronavirus and $11,000 for legal entities.

Tajikistan’s authoritarian government initially claimed there were no coronavirus cases in the country and President Emomali Rahmon flouted warnings by international experts to order social-distancing restrictions or other measures to try to curtail the spread of the disease.

According to official numbers, 4,690 people have contracted the virus in Tajikistan and 48 have died.

With reporting by dpa

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