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15 September 2022 – Tajikistan

Radio Ozodi, “
Radio Ozodi, “"Ҷони мо дар хатар аст." Идомаи "депортатсия"-и паноҳҷӯёни афғон аз Тоҷикистон,” 3 September 2022,

In recent weeks, Tajik authorities have been arbitrarily detaining Afghan refugees and asylum seekers and forcibly returning them across the border into Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.

UNHCR reports that since 2021 there have been numerous cases of Afghan refugees being detained and deported in the country. Most recently, on 23 August 2022, it documented the arrest of five Afghans–among them a mother and three children–who were subsequently forced into Afghanistan via the Panji Poyon border crossing in the south of the country. Raising “grave concerns” regarding Tajikistan’s practice, the agency’s Director of International Protection said: “We are asking Tajikistan to stop detaining and deporting refugees, an action that clearly puts lives at risk. … Forced return of refugees is against the law and runs contrary to the principle of non-refoulement, a cornerstone of international refugee law.” To-date, Tajikistan has not provided an official response.

Since then, RFE/RL’s Tajik service – Radio Ozodi – has reported that more than 100 Afghan refugees have been rounded up and returned, with no opportunity to challenge, or even question, the process. Arrests and deportations appear to be random: Afghans are reportedly apprehended by both the police and security services during raids on housing and work places, as well as apprehensions on the street, generally under the guise of document checks. UNHCR said it could not “establish a single pattern, whether it is because of the legal status, their profiles, violation of the rule of stay, or other. It is a mixture of indiscriminate and targeted arrests and deportation.” Afghans who spoke to The Guardian and Radio Ozodi expressed fears for their safety and said they were not leaving their homes in an effort to avoid arrest.

Shortly before the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in 2021, the government of Tajikistan announced that it would welcome up to 100,000 Afghan refugees. This, however, has turned out to be an empty promise: in September 2021, the country’s Interior Minister stated that the country did not have adequate resources to host large numbers of refugees and by the summer of 2022 there were less than 10,000 Afghan refugees in the country.

Non-nationals face various restrictions in Tajikistan. As per government resolutions 325 (26 July 2000) and 328 (2 August 2004), refugees and asylum seekers who arrived in the country after 2000 are prohibited from residing in numerous areas–including major cities such as Dushanbe, Khujand, Kulob, and Kurgan-Tyube–which significantly impedes their access to the labour market, public healthcare, and other social services. Persons found to be violating these regulations are subject to deportation and other criminal penalties. Illegal entry is also criminalised within the Criminal Code (despite the country’s refugee law stating that illegal entry is not a crime).

To-date, the GDP has not independently verified the locations in which refugees and asylum seekers are detained in Tajikistan–although some reports have referred to the use of State Committee for National Security offices. Previously in 2016, UNHCR raised concerns that it did not have access to immigration detention sites within the country.