Torture and Transition: Determinants of International Human Rights Norm Compliance in Central Asia – Comparative Analysis of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan

Date: 10 December 2012
Location: UCA Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic
Other languages: Русский язык |

An exclusive lecture to commemorate Human Rights Day

Speaker: Payam Foroughi
Date: 10 December 2012, 4 pm
Venue: University of Central Asia, 138 Toktogul Street, Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic. Conference Room.

Post-communist states have had two decades of experience with the free market of goods and ideas. With regards to liberal norms, after independence, they rapidly signed and ratified a variety of conventions and treaties. However, for many states these actions were simply opportunities to satisfy desires for membership in international institutions and appease Western donors and human rights critics. The case of the post-Soviet Tajikistan, in comparison to its northern neighbor of Kyrgyzstan, offers an opportunity for analysis. Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan have much in common socially, politically and economically, including being landlocked; having high rates of poverty and out-migration, and having majority Muslim, multi-ethnic populations. Both have signed a plethora of liberal international norms, including the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel and Inhuman Treatment or Punishment (CAT). Kyrgyzstan has also signed and ratified CAT’s Optional Protocol (OPCAT), which requires systematic visits to places of detention, while Tajikistan has steadfastly stalled on its commitments and refused to sign OPCAT or (unlike Kyrgyzstan) even allow visits to its prisons by the International Committee of the Red Cross. The comparison reveals differing degrees of what can be referred to as the liberal norms ratification-implementation gap, with the gap being significantly wider for Tajikistan. This lecture is based on a scientific literature review and 60 interviews conducted with experts and practitioners in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The research attempts to determine the factors that make the transition path of Tajikistan different from that of its northern neighbor in complying with international norms to prevent torture.

Please RSVP to with your name and affiliation. Please indicate if you require Russian translation.

Payam Foroughi is a Research and Teaching Fellow at the OSCE Academy in Bishkek and a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, USA. He has a Master in International Management from the American Graduate School of International Management in Arizona and a Master of Social Science from Utah State University. Foroughi has worked as an independent consultant and researcher with a number of international and non-governmental organizations.  From 2006-2009, he served as the Human Rights Officer with the OSCE mission in Tajikistan. Foroughi’s recent publications have been a comprehensive chapter on “Tajikistan” in Freedom House’s 2012 Nations in Transit; and “Politics and Human Rights in Tajikistan: Squandered Opportunities, Uncertain Future” in OSCE Yearbook 2011 (Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg/IFSH, 2012).

The presentation will be conducted in English. Russian translation provided upon prior request.

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