Drug Searches And Human Rights Violations on the Tajikistan Border
Since the outbreak of civil war in 1992 and subsequent economic collapse, the government of Tajikistan has faced the challenge of combating a robust and growing illegal narcotics trade. The UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention reports that during 1997about 4,500 kilograms of raw opium, heroin, and hashish were seized in Tajikistan alone. But testimony taken in Tajikistan at several different customs points reveals that suspicion of drug smuggling has become a catch-all excuse for government officials to extort money and violate civil rights, including freedom from arbitrary searches and cruel and degrading treatment.
In typical testimony, Khanifa Burieva, a citizen of Tajikistan who often visits relatives in Uzbekistan, reports that she is always searched at the border. In December 1999, she stated: "I was on my way to a wedding with my two-year-old daughter. At customs they searched me and my things
Erika Dailey is an editorial consultant to the Central Eurasia Project, covering human rights-related issues in the Transcaucasus and Central Asia. Between 1992 and 1998, Ms. Dailey worked as a researcher and human rights advocate for Human Rights Watch, based in New York and Moscow, covering principally the Caucasus, Central Asia, and the Russian Federation. Since 1998, Dailey has worked as a human rights advocate for Human Rights Watch, the International League for Human Rights, and the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights. She has a BA in Slavic Studies from Princeton (1986) and an MA in Central Asian Studies from Columbia (1991). She has lived in and traveled to the Caucasus and Central Asia regularly since 1987