Starting from October 1, the autumn military conscription campaign started in Tajikistan. During this time, all mothers worry about sons, and sons try to leave the country. All of them are frightened by raids, ‘dedovschina’, and torture in the army.
This year, young men, citizens of the country born in 1993-2002, are conscripted into compulsory military service.
It is not a secret that employees of the agencies providing conscription plans often resort to compulsory recruitment methods – the raids (referred to as “oblava”).
This year, due to the coronavirus pandemic and the borders closure, young people will not be able to leave the country, so we asked a lawyer Dilrabo Samadova to provide advice on how to behave correctly in order to avoid negative consequences if you are caught in a raid.
What is a raid?
These are illegal actions of representatives of military commissariats and police forces to detain persons of conscription age in order to fulfil conscription plans. Often, the raids are organized by several (from 5 to 10) employees of the military registration offices without uniform; they catch young people in public places, do not require them to present documents and forcibly take them to the nearest military commissariat. Often, police officers cover up their actions. Many Tajiks complain that during conscription campaigns, officials of the military registration offices conduct raids in public places, shopping centers, taxis, markets and squares of cities and regions of the country. Some of the most zealous officers of the military commissariats catch the young men, illegally breaking into their houses and apartments. Although the authorities deny such methods, such cases are often captured on video and posted on social networks.
If I am caught during a raid, can I resist?
No! It is better not to resist the representatives of military commissariats and internal affairs bodies (police) for your own physical safety. At the same time, you should not confuse arbitrariness and abuse of authority with the lawful actions of the police to detain and deliver a conscript to bring him to administrative responsibility.
What is legal and what is not?
According to the law, if the employees of the local military registration office cannot hand over the draft notification to the conscript personally (in case they cannot find him at home, or it is unknown where he works), they are obliged to include him to the list of draft evaders. The military commissar sends this list to the Department of Internal Affairs. The internal affairs bodies, having received such a list, begin to search a conscript who did not receive the notification. The purpose of the search is handing over a notification, not detention and sending him to the army. The conscript can be transferred only to the internal affairs bodies, for example, for handing over a notification, receiving an explanation from the conscript. The conscripts cannot be transferred to a military registration office, military commissariat or jamoat, which most often happens in practice. All other cases of searching, detention, entering home, chaotic raids for all persons of draft age on the streets, transport, public spaces, and markets are illegal.
What are the employees of military commissariats or jamoats not allowed to do?
• conduct a search, • detain and deliver recruits to the police department or to any other place, • break into the citizens’ houses, • stop minibuses, buses, trolley buses and take young people out of there, • conduct raids to detain and deliver conscripts, • to take away personal belongings, mobile phones, • restrict the freedom of movement of conscripts even on the military commissariats’ territory, • to lock in the rooms with bars.
Is the participation of the officers of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in raids legal?
No, it is not. However, it is the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ duty to detain citizens evading conscription and take them to police departments. According to Article 9 of the Law of the Republic of Tajikistan “On Compulsory Military Responsibilities and Military Service”, the internal affairs bodies within their competence are obliged to search for citizens who evade conscription. In addition, according to the same article, employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs are obliged to report within seven days to the relevant military commissariats about identifying such citizens. However, it is important to remember that employees of internal affairs bodies must: • follow the procedures (mentioned above), • wear uniform, • introduce themselves and present their identification document . They can detain conscripts only to hand over the notification or to fill in a protocol on an administrative violation. At the same time, the place where the evading conscript is taken should only be the department of the internal affairs bodies. Taking a conscript to the military commissariat or jamoat with the purpose of sending him to military service is illegal.
If I was taken to the commissariat, what right do I have?
You have the right to the means of communication: a phone call or the Internet (if the phone has Internet connection), and to inform your relatives and friends about the fact of detention and your location. This should be done in the first minutes of detention. The phone is a citizen’s property, and no one has the right to take it away during detention. However, as a rule, the phone is taken away first. If this happened, you need to ask other conscripts at the military commissariat for a phone. Usually, when a conscript is taken to a military commissariat, he does not have any documents with him, not to mention medical certificates, which are necessary to undergo a medical examination and determine whether he is suitable for military service. By the way, the ‘raiders’ can be frightened off by capturing their actions on the camera. They are afraid of cameras. They know, after all, that they are breaking the law and they have authority above them. The main thing is to capture the faces and license plates of the cars.
Who are draft evaders?
A conscript who does not appear after the call (notification) of the military commissariat within the specified period without a valid reason is considered to be evading military service. Only those persons who received a notification, signed it and did not show up at the specified place and time without valid reason are considered to be draft evaders.
Will a draft evader be held legally accountable?
The law provides clear rules for such cases. If the conscript is recognized as an evader, the administrative case must be initiated against him. In accordance with the legislation of the Republic of Tajikistan, he is subject to administrative responsibility in cases related to the resolution of the issue of conscription for military service, and criminal responsibility – for evading military service.
Can a person appeal against his transfer to the military commissariat, even if he is a potential conscript?
Illegal detention and forced delivery of conscripts to the military commissariat is a gross violation of human rights. Each conscript has the right to appeal against these actions to law enforcement agencies.
How to defend your rights?
If you are the victim of arbitrary detention, you have the right to file a complaint with the Military Prosecutor’s Office (if the detention was carried out by officers of military commissariats) or with a court. The Criminal Code of the Republic of Tajikistan provides for punishment for illegal restriction of movement (Article 149 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Tajikistan) and for illegal arrest or detention (Article 358). These articles also include the actions of the commissariats and police officers who illegally detain conscripts.
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