The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in the Republic of Tajikistan to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Tajikistan's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
and the International Religious Freedom Reports
Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
U.S. Government efforts to advance freedom and democracy face significant obstacles. The country is an authoritarian republic that obstructs pluralism and has widespread corruption, a deteriorating education system, and an ineffective civil service. Law enforcement and security services often act with impunity. To encourage a more responsive government, the U.S. Government promotes democracy by increasing citizen participation in local government, vigorously engaging political parties, supporting civil society, advocating human rights and press and religious freedom, and exposing young people to democratic ideas and practices.
Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human
Rights and Democratic Governance
The United States recognizes that promoting democracy in the country is difficult due to its isolation and other environmental challenges, citizens' lack of exposure to democratic principles, and government resistance to meaningful democratic reforms. Therefore, although short-term successes are possible, the U.S. strategy focuses on the long-term. The U.S. Government works closely with local and international NGOs, international organizations with field presences in the country, and other bilateral missions to develop and implement this strategy. U.S. technical assistance aims to improve the institutional capacity of government agencies to function more fairly and competently. U.S. exchange and training programs focus on engaging key individuals who have the ability to advance democratic principles from within government structures or civil society in order to improve long-term prospects for democratic change. The United States uses both diplomacy and programming to assist the country in making much-needed legislative reforms. Finally, the United States uses outreach and civil society development programs to engage the public and promote democratic values.
The U.S. government police reform program includes an embedded training manager at the Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the introduction of community policing concepts. The U.S.-supported local governance program is assisting the country to decentralize and improve public administration by developing local governments' competencies in budgeting and finance, resource management, and public service delivery.
A key element is developing mutual accountability between local governments and indigenous civil society through joint training and project development. In 2009 this program helped develop a law that devolved power to local governments and established a framework for elections to local offices. A U.S.-supported community development program brings local governments and communities together to expand local incomes and decrease the risk of conflict. The U.S. Government funded a land reform project that provides legal assistance for hundreds of farmers who are seeking to claim their property rights. The U.S.-supported water-user's association program empowers farmers to manage their irrigation and drainage infrastructure, teaches techniques for community problem solving, and helps farmers advocate for their fair share of government resources and services.
The United States helps fund legal support to NGOs that must navigate the highly technical registration regime implemented by the government. U.S. programs have improved local capacity to prevent and combat trafficking in persons. The embassy also supports victim protection. The United States funds the only two shelters for trafficking victims in the country. To assist in antitrafficking, the United States has funded the installation of two scanning devices at border posts and is currently funding the building of two additional border posts.
The U.S. Embassy manages a steadily expanding group of exchange programs that send media professionals, judges, law enforcement officials, parliamentarians, other government officials, students, and civil society activists to the United States to give them exposure to democracy and accountable, transparent governance.
The Embassy funded senior leadership of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Academy to travel to New York and Washington to receive training on methods used by U.S. law enforcement academies. The U.S. Government sends mid- and senior-level military officers and government officials involved in defense issues to conferences on defense reform, civilian control of the military, good governance, and human rights. U.S. military mobile training teams travel to Tajikistan to provide training to the National Guard, border guards, and counter-narcotics forces. The U.S. Government also sends professionals from government and the private sector to the United States to enhance their capacity to promote community development.
U.S. legislative reform projects focus on five key areas of local law: criminal justice, land use, irrigation policy, basic freedoms, and the business environment. The United States advocates for substantial revisions to criminal justice legislation to bring it in line with internationally recognized standards. U.S. programs provide technical assistance to those seeking to liberalize agricultural legislation, focusing especially on property rights for agricultural workers who make up 70 percent of the country's working population.
U.S. officials urge the government to remove unduly restrictive provisions on NGOs and religious organizations and to reform its electoral laws. U.S. assistance programs aim to reform business registration and licensing requirements, which have limited the ability of entrepreneurs to start and effectively run businesses of all sizes.
U.S. outreach and civil society development programs are meant to engage the public. The U.S. Embassy issued small grants to local NGOs for projects that included providing information to students about human rights; engaging youth in political advocacy and civil society development; teaching female high school dropouts about women's rights; raising public awareness about election procedures prior to the parliamentary elections; promoting gender equality; and improving journalists' reporting skills. Embassy officials discuss democracy and human rights issues with a wide spectrum of society at U.S.-funded American Corners, in schools and universities, and in other venues throughout the country.