After a number of non-governmental organizations in Tajikistan expressed a desire to participate in the upcoming presidential elections as independent observers, the authorities, along with all sorts of checks, seriously began to reconsider their legal status.
Last year, some of the “politicized” non-governmental organizations of Tajikistan declared their intention to participate in the upcoming presidential elections this fall not only as an electorate, but also as independent observers. This was stated in their statement sent to the president, parliament and international organizations.
In the meantime, non-governmental organizations in the country have become increasingly under attack from the state. Although until recently the Tajik enpeoshniki, unlike the Turkmen and Uzbek colleagues, enjoyed considerable freedom, in recent years there has been full-scale control over their activities by law enforcement agencies. It is noteworthy that the checks are carried out not by the tax authorities or the Ministry of Justice, but by the Organized Crime Department of the Ministry of Interior.
Many political scientists in Tajikistan associate current inspections of local NGOs with their desire to participate in the upcoming presidential elections as independent observers.
Recall that last year, Tajik NGOs, at the direction of the Minister of the Interior, were subjected to checks. Although law enforcement officials explained the need for inspections by the fact that they needed to establish how much the activities of NGOs comply with the constitution, the current legislation of the country, and the charters of these organizations. The leaders of the NGOs themselves said that such close attention of the authorities was connected with the March revolution in Kyrgyzstan and the Andijan events in Uzbekistan. The authorities viewed NGOs as subversive, extremist organizations preparing for a change of power.
According to political analyst Kamol Abdullayev, Tajik NGOs are divided and depoliticized. “They are not strong enough, united and independent to seriously oppose themselves to the authorities. Those who fear that somewhere in the depths of the Tajik NGO movement new “Saakashvili” are being cloned may breathe a sigh of relief, ”he says.
Nevertheless, the authorities of Tajikistan, knowing full well that the success of most NGOs that have achieved certain results today, is explained by the support of international donors, they believe that such organizations, financed from abroad, mostly pursue not social, but political goals.
“The Civil Code says that public organizations and movements pursuing political goals are not entitled to receive financial or other material assistance from foreign organizations, citizens and states,” said the head of the department for registration of public associations and political parties of the Ministry of Justice Davlat in an interview with us. Sulaimonov.
Thus, at the initiative of the government, the Ministry of Justice has developed a new draft law “On Public Organizations” with numerous amendments. Deputy Minister Rustam Mengliev believes that many NGOs simply do not comply with the law, do not provide annual reports to the judicial authorities, their leadership is trying in every way to avoid taxation. “Only 12-15 percent of NGOs comply with the established procedure for notifying the Ministry of Justice about changes in their activities, and not all registered NGOs are registered in tax authorities in a timely manner and maintain accounting records in accordance with current legislation,” he says.
According to Mengaliyev, after the adoption of this bill, NGOs will have to re-register each year at the Ministry of Justice. “According to the draft law, all non-governmental organizations from January 1, 2007 to March 1 of the same year will be required to re-register with the judicial authorities,” Mengliev said. “Otherwise, we will take action.”
Meanwhile, representatives of public organizations severely criticized the new draft law “On Public Organizations”. According to them, the new edition of this Law complicates the registration process and activities, which is already burdensome for NGOs.
Moreover, given that non-governmental organizations are given only three months to complete all the formalities, many NGO members doubt that the Ministry of Justice can handle such a volume of documents.
According to the Department of Justice for the Registration of Public Associations and Political Parties, today there are 2,890 NGOs registered in the country. Of these, a little more than 700 actually work. However, apparently, the authorities are most worried not by these technical issues, but by the suspicions that some NGOs are "politicized".
“The most unpleasant thing in this project,” says Nigina Bakhrieva, director of the programs of the Republican Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, is the right of the Ministry of Justice to fully control the activities of NGOs. If earlier the Ministry of Finance and the Prosecutor’s Office had the right to check us, now the Ministry of Justice has added to them, and its control is not limited and extends, including to financial activities. ”
According to her, the new law also limits the number of types of public associations that can work, and creates additional obstacles for their activities.
“When drafting new laws on public associations, including on NGOs, it is necessary to keep in mind that the current Constitution of Tajikistan sets the limits of state power so that the latter cannot interfere in the sphere of civil society at all,” says lawyer Ashurboy Imomov. “At the same time, it is necessary to take into account that the Constitution does not set the limits for state intervention in the sphere of public self-regulation, and without such a distinction one cannot avoid possible conflicts between the state and NGOs”.
Meanwhile, the new draft law “On public organizations” has already been submitted to parliament. Representatives of non-governmental organizations, not excluding the likelihood that the authorities may limit their field of activity, are trying their best to influence the situation and take all measures to ensure that their opinion is reflected in the new law. But one of the deputies of the parliament of the past convocation, analyzing the situation around the bill, skeptically assesses the chances of NGOs to change something: “No matter how hard NGOs try, if a bill is already approved by the government, it will be passed by our parliament in that form, without considering their opinions. "
At the last moment, a reliable source from the Ministry of Justice announced that the draft law “On Public Organizations” had been sent by Parliament for revision, for which a joint working group consisting of representatives of Parliament and the Ministry of Justice had been created. So in the near future it will be known what game the authorities intend to play with non-governmental organizations.