Detained Since: September 28, 2015.
Charges: Fraud, forgery, publicly insulting the Leader of the Nation, incitement to national, racial, local or religious violence, and contempt of court.
Sentence: A combined twenty-eight years in prison.
Biography: Buzurgmehr Yorov is a prominent Tajik human rights lawyer who has represented a number of high profile individuals who were politically prosecuted by the government of Tajikistan, including well-known religious figures, opposition politicians, and other human rights lawyers.
In early September 2015, Mr. Yorov took on the initial representation of 13 members of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT), an opposition political group. Shortly after Mr. Yorov announced his clients had been tortured in pre-trial detention and called for a coalition of lawyers to join him in representing the detained IRPT members, he was arrested. Mr. Yorov was sentenced to 23 years in prison on October 6, 2015. Before his sentencing, Mr. Yorov read aloud an 11th century poem by a Persian poet; authorities then charged him with contempt of court and insulting a government official. On March 16, 2017, Mr. Yorov was convicted and sentenced to an additional 2 years. In August 2017, the prosecutor brought additional charges against Mr. Yorov. He is now facing a combined 28 years in prison. After his initial arrest, Mr. Yorov was beaten throughout his imprisonment. Beatings intensified in September 2017 when detention center guards beat Mr. Yorov with their legs, arms, and batons allegedly while he was tied to chair. Several of Mr. Yorov's bones have been broken as a result of the beating and he has difficulty walking.
Advocacy Partner: Freedom Now
A delegation led by U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Central Asia and Press and Public Diplomacy Emilia Puma met with top Tajik officials and voiced concerns over the imprisonment of Buzurgmehr Yorov (October 24, 2018, RFE/RL).
Tajik lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov has been awarded the Faiziniso Vohidova Human Rights Prize for his contribution to the development of democratic institutions and civil rights in Tajikistan (September 18, 2019, RFE/RL).
Buzurgmehr Yorov was included on the short list for the 2019 Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize (September 30, 2019, DW).
It was announced that Buzurgmehr Yorov would have his prison term shortened by six years as part of a mass amnesty (November 26, 2019, RFE/RL).
Jailed Tajik Lawyer Yorov was awarded the Homini Human Rights Prize from the Prague-based NGO People in Need (February 5, 2020, RFE/RL).
A bipartisan group of 11 U.S. senators wrote to the President of Tajikistan, Emomali Rahmon, urging the release of Mr. Yorov amid the Covid-19 pandemic (June 30, 2020, Ranking Member Menendez Press Release).