DUSHANBE -- The lengthy prison sentence of jailed Tajik lawyer Buzurgmehr Yorov has been shortened as part of a recent mass amnesty adopted to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Tajikistan's independence.
Yorov's sister, Khosiat Yorova, told RFE/RL on October 18 that her brother's prison term was shortened by four years, meaning he has 17 1/2 years left to serve. It is the second time Yorov's prison term has been shortened.
Yorov was i nitially sentenced to 23 years in prison in October 2016 on charges of issuing public calls for the overthrow of the government and inciting social unrest. That was later extended by five years after a court in Dushanbe found him guilty of contempt of court and insulting a government official.
In 2019, the 28-year prison term was shortened by 6 1/2 years under a mass amnesty announced by the government to mark the 25th anniversary of the Central Asian state's constitution.
Yorov has denied any wrongdoing, insisting that his trial was politically motivated because he defended members and leaders of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan, an opposition group that was banned in 2015 as a terrorist organization.
Western governments and human rights organizations have urged the Tajik government to release Yorov, who in March 2020 received the Prague-based People in Need NGO's Homo Homini Award, an annual prize bestowed upon people and groups in recognition of their contribution to “"the defense of human rights, democracy, and the nonviolent resolution of political conflicts."
A year before that, Yorov was awarded the Faiziniso Vohidova Human Rights Prize by the Association of Central Asian Migrants in Europe.
Yorov was also short-listed for the 2019 Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.