Tajikistan’s Parental Responsibility Law
The Lower Chamber of Tajikistan’s Parliament approved a controversial new bill, as well as amendments to the Criminal Code, on June 15. The Parental Responsibility Law stipulates that the only religious activities in which children under 18 may participate, apart from funerals, are those at state-approved religious education institutions. The amendments specifically extend penalties on unapproved religious meetings and impose harsh prison terms for advocating “religious extremist” teachings. The amendments fail to define “religious extremist,” and could easily extend to any religious teaching without state approval. To become law, the bill must also be approved by the Upper Chamber and signed by President Emomali Rahmon. The Parental Responsibility Law is the initiative of President Rahmon. Many expect the Upper Chamber to approve the legislation next month. The proposed legal changes arrive as police continue their suppression of non-sanctioned religious teaching. Local religious communities, independent legal experts, and human rights defenders have all condemned the law.