May 21, 2019, 9:30 a.m.
Hyatt Regency Dushanbe
Opening statement by Dr (Ms) Pratibha Mehta,
UNDP Resident Representative and UN Resident Coordinator in Tajikistan
Dear Mr. Umed Bobozoda, Ombudsman in the Republic of Tajikistan,
Distinguished Guests, colleagues, and partners,
It is my pleasure, on behalf UN Agencies, to welcome you all in today’s international conference devoted to achievements of the Ombudsman Office in the Republic of Tajikistan, especially taking into account that the conference coincides with 10th Anniversary of Ombudsman Office.
At the beginning, I would like to congratulate Mr. Umed Bobozoda with the appointment to the position of the Ombudsman in the Republic of Tajikistan. I hope that during your tenure we will continue fruitful cooperation of the UN agencies with your office to further promote human rights in Tajikistan.
At the same time, I would like to take the opportunity to express appreciation to Mr. Zarif Alizoda, former Ombudsman and currently, Assistant to the President on Legal Issues and Representative of the President to the Parliament for his collaboration with UN agencies and wish him all the best in his new capacity.
Establishment of Ombudsman Office in the Republic of Tajikistan in 2009 was an important step taken by the Government to promote human rights and implement recommendations of the UN Human Rights bodies. Ombudsman Institute is an independent body established to stand up for those in need of protection and hold government to account for their human rights obligations. It helps shape laws, policies and attitudes that create stronger, fairer societies.
I would like to emphasis that from the time of its establishment, Ombudsman Office was open for cooperation with UN and CSOs. UN has supported the Ombudsman’s Office with capacity building and technical support, consulting services, development of materials and Strategic Plans. During the years, the Ombudsman’s Office has grown in terms of budget, number of employees, competence and capacity.
Ombudsman Office carries important work. It contributes to the process of reporting on implementation of UN human rights treaties, signing Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and work towards ratification of OPCAT (Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture).
Ombudsman closely cooperates with civil society through Monitoring Group under the Ombudsman Office to ensure regular monitoring visits to the closed and semi closed institutions.
Ombudsman also coordinates inter-agency activities on implementation of the State Programme on Human Rights Education for 2013-2020. Ombudsman staff are presented in almost all working groups on legal reforms, including inter-agency working group on coordination and reporting on SDG 16, aimed to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies.
In 2012, Tajikistan Ombudsman was accredited B status of compliance with Paris Principles by the Subcommittee of the International Coordinating Committee on Accreditation (SCA). Based on the SCA recommendations, several amendments were introduced to the Law on Ombudsman in 2015 and 2016 to bring it in compliance with Paris Principles. Amendments incorporated several SCA recommendations, including promotion by Ombudsman ratification or accession to international HR instruments. In addition, under the amendments to the law, the Ombudsman have access to temporary detention and investigation facilities, migration, refugee centres and other facilities that provide social, medical and psychiatric aid. Establishment of Ombudsperson for Child Rights in 2016 was a very important initiative of the Tajikistan President directed at protection of child rights.
At the same time, further steps need to be taken to address other SCA recommendations related to selection and appointment, pluralism of staff, funding and immunity of the Ombudsman staff. Under the 2nd cycle of UPR in 2016, Tajikistan accepted recommendations related to bringing Ombudsman Office in compliance with Paris Principles and this was included into the National Action Plan on UPR recommendations signed by President in 2017. UN in Tajikistan stands ready to provide every support to the Ombudsman Office to improve and bring it in compliance with Paris Principles.
Let me conclude with a heart-warming congratulation to the Ombudsman Office in Tajikistan with its 10th Anniversary and impressive achievements, openness for cooperation and efforts for establishment of a strong National Human Rights Institution to promote human rights in Tajikistan.
I wish you all a fruitful and an insightful discussion.