A religious prisoner was released in Tajikistan
Shamil Khakimov, a Jehovah’s Witness, was arrested for “inciting religious hatred and being in possession of religious materials.” While in prison, Khakimov was routinely denied medical treatment for his pre-existing health conditions, leading to a severe case of gangrene in his legs and feet.
In 2007, the Tajik government banned the Jehovah’s Witnesses sect because of its emphasis on proselytizing. Since then, several members have been arrested or detained for practising their religious beliefs.
Tajik President Emomali Rahmon signed an amendment in 2020, reducing the jail penalty for “religious hatred” charges from five years to ten days, or an administrative fine. At that time, Khakimov had already served two years of his seven and a half year sentence.
In May 2022, Tajikistan senior state religious affairs official Sulaymon Davlatzoda told Protestant church leaders that the government would no longer register new churches, and anyone under 18 was prohibited from practising their religion or taking part in church activities.