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International cooperation against transnational crime, terrorism and the drug trade

Interview - February 2, 2015

The Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan, HE Ramazon Rakhimzoda, discusses how the country works with its global partners to  address crime and modern security challenges.


How does the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of Tajikistan cooperate with corresponding agencies in other countries to tackle transnational crime? 

Transnational organized crime is considered one of the main threats to the security of each individual, and it affects the social, economic, political and cultural development of people all over the world. This multilateral phenomenon is observed in different types of activity including: drug trafficking, human trafficking, the arms trade, smuggling of migrants and money laundering. Drug trafficking is one of the main activities of organized criminal groups, bringing in huge incomes. Transnational organized crime itself is by nature a global danger, posing a threat, not only to individual countries, but also to the global community. Therefore the struggle against this evil requires international cooperation, and it is necessary to combine the efforts of all countries and international organizations.

Since the Republic of Tajikistan (RT) gained independence, we have actively participated in combined efforts against the ever increasing threat of transnational crime. Tajikistan is an adherent of practically all UN conventions related to crime.

Cooperation with colleagues from both distant and nearby countries is one of the key objectives of the MIA’s international activity especially when it concerns joint action against international terrorism, religious extremism,  drug trafficking, human trafficking and other dangerous types of transnational crime. Interaction is carried out both on a multilateral and a bilateral basis.

We have signed and concluded more than 90 multilateral and bilateral agreements which define terms of cooperation in the fight against specific types of crime that touch on the common interests of several states. Also, the international treaties define the activities of different authorities in countering transnational organized crime.

The actual issues relating to the joint activities of law-enforcement bodies in the fight against crime, including measures in the fight against terrorism, arms and ammunition offenses, drugs and other dangerous crimes, are constantly discussed during meetings of The Council of Ministers of Internal Affairs, and also meetings held within the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), the CSTO (Collective Security Treaty Organization) and the SCO (Shanghai Cooperation Organization) as well as other organizations.

The importance of having an organized means of cooperation is related to issues such as the search for people who are reasonably suspected of having committed crimes and are evading investigation, trial and extradition.

In order to implement the signed inter-state programs for the fight against crime together with the Ministries of Internal Affairs of the CIS member states, we annually perform preventive, operational search events and special operations such as Controlled Delivery and Search.

In order to create a safe zone for the prevention of the illegal penetration of drugs, countering cybercrime, and fighting against illegal migration within the CSTO, special combined operations including Channel, Proxy and Illegal Immigrant are undertaken on an annual basis.

As you know, one of the main and the most known global organizations counteracting transnational organized crimes is the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol). On October 5, 2004 during the 73rd session of the General Assembly of Interpol, Tajikistan was admitted to the organization and became the 183rd member state.

On January 28, 2005 within the structure of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan, The National Central Bureau of the Interpol (NCBI) of Tajikistan was established. The main objective of the NCBI is ensuring international coordination between the MIA and counterparts organizations of Interpol member states in the fight against international crime, and that this is carried out respecting the law and human rights.

Regarding coordination between the MIA and the US, I would like to highlight that we have built a strong relationship during many years of cooperation. This cooperation is being implemented within the framework of a decree that was signed between the Government of Tajikistan and the Government of the US on the 27th of January, 2003, relating to drug trafficking and law enforcement agencies. 

The US State Department and the US embassy in Dushanbe constantly provide technical support which grants solid assistance in the fight against crime as well as terrorism, religious extremism, the drug trade and human trafficking. The staff of our law-enforcement bodies use equipment provided by the US, almost on a daily basis.

The US embassy in Dushanbe organizes and provides different seminars and practical training for our law enforcement staff. They have provided the Ministry of Education modules on various subjects which are also applied in practice. It should be noted that this training has been utilized by MIA special forces officers during operations. We are grateful to the US special forces instructors and trainers who have come to Tajikistan to carry out various training and tactical studies courses.

Moreover, together with the Department for the Fight against Drugs and Protection of Law and Order, we have implemented projects concerning the protection of public order, and SAI (State Automobile Inspection). Also we have carried out projects to enhance the role of women who serve within law enforcement agencies, in maintaining public order, and building solid relationships between the police and the general public.  With the support of the US embassy, we have created 27 public councils, community policing initiatives, as well an office for preventing domestic violence.

What priority is the struggle against terrorism given by your ministry?

One of the most radical manifestations of organized crime is terrorism.  Today the issue of the fight against terrorism is widely discussed by the world community which is working to mitigate this universal threat. Terrorist attacks, with their severe consequences, are one of the most serious threats and destabilizing factors in the world today.

Since achieving independence, Tajikistan has been actively participating in the struggle against terrorism together with the international community. We consider the fight against terrorism as the most important undertaking for ensuring national and regional security, and we are seeking further strengthening of international cooperation in this area. The legal basis of this activity in the Republic of Tajikistan comprises the international obligations, the constitution, the criminal code, and specifically the Concerning the Fight against Terrorism Law.

Annually we implement programs for fighting terrorism and other manifestations of extremism which are directed toward disclosure, prevention and elimination of terrorist activities. This includes the prevention of financing of terrorist groups and the promotion of terrorism, and maintaining the security of citizens of the country and other people living on the territory of RT.

Main efforts are directed towards strengthening the security of borders, preventing the penetration of extremist forces into our country, preventing acts of terrorism, the illegal import of firearms, ammunition as well as illegal migration. We pay special attention to carrying out operations of a counter-terrorist nature in densely populated areas.

While carrying out high level political and cultural events, we conduct careful searches of adjacent territories, and facilitate the inspection of buildings by using specially trained dogs to detect explosives substances.

Considering the events happening in different parts of the world today connected with the increase of terrorist threats, I have put a special emphasis on strengthening and expanding practical cooperation with colleagues from all countries in this direction.

During the 2013-2014 period a number of international treaties were signed. These include a memorandum of understanding between the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan and the Ministry of Public Security of People's Republic of China (MPS) on counteracting terrorism, extremism and separatism. This also includes a cooperation agreement between the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic, as well as a cooperation agreement between the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Taking into consideration the current operational situation in counter terrorism and other forms of extremism in Central Asia, we have together with our colleagues from Kyrgyz Republic, approved  a joint plan in this direction for the 2014-2015 period.

According to the Memorandum of understanding between the MIA and MPS (Ministry of Public Security) of China, we have begun work on the establishment of a special center for countering terrorism, extremism, separatism and organized crime.

One of the key directions in the area of cooperation of MIA with other countries is locating leaders and members of terrorist and extremist organizations. For this purpose with assistance of international channels we carry out a fast and active exchange of significant information.

Currently, according to the decision of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Tajikistan in the territory of the RT activities of the following terrorist, religious and extremist organizations are forbidden: Al-Qaeda, The Islamic movement of East Turkestan, The Islamic party of Turkestan (aka The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan), The Taliban, The Muslim Brotherhood, Lashkar-e Tayba, The Islamic Group (aka Jamiati Islamiya Pakistan), Jamiati Tablig, the religious and missionary organization Sozmoni Tabligot (aka The Appeal to Islam),  Free Tajikistan, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Salafiya, and Jamia Ansorullokh.  Also, on October 9, 2014 the unregistered social movement Group-24 was recognized by a decision of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Tajikistan as an extremist organization and its activities on the territory of the republic were outlawed.

What are the challenges the MIA faces in countering the smuggling of narcotics through Tajikistan?

The drug trafficking activities of organized transnational criminal groups are one of their main sources of financing and it has a serious negative impact on economic and political life. One of the areas with the largest global manufacturers of drugs is Afghanistan, with which we share a border of almost 1,500 KM, with difficult mountainous terrain, which has turned Tajikistan into a buffer country. This fact puts a special focus for our activities in this area and particularly, the issue of fighting drug trafficking.

Countering drug crime is one of the important areas that the Government of the Republic of Tajikistan considers and it has been allocated as a priority for state policy. Moreover, estimating the reality of the threat of drug trafficking, His Excellency Emomali Rahmon has constantly called for joint action against this threat.

By the initiative of his Excellency, Emomali Rahmon, the Agency for Control of Drugs was created, which is aimed at implementation of state policies towards fighting drug trafficking, psychotropic substances and their precursors.

Our country is a member of all the anti-drug conventions of the UN. On a national level, Tajikistan has carried out solid work in terms of adapting domestic laws to meet international standards. Specifically, we have made changes to the Criminal Code of the RT, and adopted laws concerning drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors. The next step in strengthening drug control is the 2013-2020 National Strategy in the Fight Against Illegal Drug Turnover in the RT decree, which has been approved by the President of Republic of Tajikistan.

Within the structure of the MIA an independent subgroup has been created that is responsible specifically for the fight against illegal drug revenues. Moreover, a special MIA database has been produced which contains relevant information about individuals and groups that are related to the illegal drug revenues. The database is regularly updated by the staff of the MIA and it receives information from the various agencies that deal with these issues.

Success in fighting against drug trafficking and preventing crime, in many respects, depends on the joint efforts of the global community. Thus, the Ministry of Internal Affairs strengthens its cooperation with various states and international organizations. At the law enforcement agencies level, interdepartmental agreements on the fight against drugs are concluded practically with all countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and also with other nations.

Carrying out joint pre-emptive operations, implementing inter-state programs to prevent drug addiction and counter drug trafficking, in the Republic of Tajikistan, yields positive results.       Annually on the territory of the republic, law enforcement agencies seize several tons of drugs. I would like to emphasize that the biggest share of work on drug seizures falls on the shoulders of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Taking into account what has previously been mentioned and the current trends of the Tajik-Afghan border regarding drug trafficking, special attention has been paid to strengthening and developing cooperation with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. Between our departments, a joint, mutually advantageous exchange of operational information is underway concerning international smugglers, and individuals involved in drug trafficking.

Also, during an official visit of the President of the Republic of Tajikistan, His Excellency Emomali Rahmon to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, an agreement on multilateral cooperation between the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan was signed on the 26th of March, 2014. Now for the implementation of this agreement, the question of opening an official representation of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is being considered.

Close cooperation with neighboring countries and regional organizations has been established. Particularly, I would like to note the positive experience gained from the annual international, preventative and special operations including Channel and Controlled Delivery which are carried out under the auspices of the Collective Security Treaty Organization and the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Along with these measures, training and professional development of employees is also carried out in the fight against drug trafficking. Our employees are trained at the Russian Institute of Professional Development of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, and participate in training, seminars and courses there.  Knowledge and experience gained from these activities are actively put into practice. On this basis, Afghan police officers directly engaged in the fight against drug trafficking undertake training courses at the Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan.