Six Officers Of Tajik Prison Arrested After Deadly Prison Unrest: Sources

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Six officers from a prison in Tajikistan that was the site of a deadly riot earlier this month have reportedly been arrested, sources say, amid questions in the West about whether the rule of law and prisoners' rights were upheld.

Sources at the Sughd Regional Court told RFE/RL's Tajik Service on November 21 that a department chief at the prison in the northern city of Khujand, Farhod Sadirov, was among the arrested officers.

A day earlier, court sources told RFE/RL that the warden of the prison, Faizullo Safarzod, was sent to pretrial detention for two months.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matters publicly.

Tajik law enforcement sources, also speaking on condition of anonymity, told RFE/RL earlier that Safarzod was detained on November 15 and charged with negligence and abuse of power.

According to the sources, Safarzod is accused of failing to inform Tajikistan's Penitentiary Service about the unrest in a timely manner.

Almost two weeks after the violence, the Tajik government has issued no public statements on the incident, and Tajik authorities have not publicly confirmed the arrests.

The extremist group Islamic State (IS) claimed the riot broke out after one of its "soldiers" attacked a prison guard.

Government sources, also speaking on condition of anonymity, told RFE/RL on November 9 that suspected IS supporters convicted of religious extremism and terrorism were behind the unrest.

Those statements could not be independently verified.

The penitentiary -- high-security Prison No. 3/3 -- largely houses inmates convicted on charges related to terrorism, extremism, and other serious crimes.

On November 20, U.S. Charge d'Affaires Kevin Covert held talkswith Tajik Foreign Ministry officials "to learn about the steps the Tajik government has taken to investigate alleged violations and to insist that the rule of law be upheld."

Covert wrote on Facebook earlier on November 19 that "it is important for the [Tajik] government to conduct a thorough investigation, follow the rule of law, and protect the human rights of prisoners and their families."

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