Länderberichte und aktuelle Informationen: Tajikistan

Last revision: 28 Apr. 1998
28 Apr. 1998

1 Conscription

conscription exists

The legal basis of conscription is the 1994 Law on Military Service and the 1997 Law On amendments and additions to the law of the Republic of Tajikistan on general military responsibilities and military service. [9]

Ever since the 1980s Tajikistan has suffered from a civil war, which heightened after gaining independence in 1991. The government and the Islamic opposition forces signed a latest peace treaty in June 1997, but the situation is still unstable. Owing to the civil war the Tajik government effectively controls only the western part of the country. In this context, establishing Tajik armed forces is a difficult process. In some parts of western Tajikistan the government relies on local warlords, who agreed to call their loyal troops a unit of the Tajik armed forces. [8]

Military service is performed in the Tajik armed forces and in the Russian border guards, the latter in fact being larger than the Tajik armed forces. The border guards are stationed at the Tajik-Afghan border and are officially only required to defend the this border, but they have periodically been drawn into the civil war. The border guards are under Russian command, but are mainly composed of Tajik conscripts. According to President Rakhmanov in 1997, 93 percent of the 16,000 soldiers in the Russian border guards are Tajik citizens. [4] [9]

military service

All men above the age of 18 are liable for military service. [1]

The length of military service is two years. [4]

Occasionally the duration of military service seems to be increased. As the 1996 autumn call-up failed to produce the requisite number of recruits, serving conscripts were not released even though they had completed their two years' service. [4]

postponement and exemption

Postponement and exemption are possible under arts. 17 and 18 of the 1994 Law on Military Service. [5]

Postponement is possible in the case of students, shepherds, sole family breadwinners and those whose brother had died while performing military service. [1]


Call-up for military service takes place at the age of 18. There are two call-ups a year, in spring (May-June) and autumn (November-January). [5]

The armed forces have difficulties achieving the requisite number of recruits. According to the Ministry of Defence, the local recruitment commissions are badly organised and sometimes refuse to abide by national recruitment regulations. For instance, in 1996 it was reported that the war committee of the province Berg Badachshan refused to call up any recruits. [4] [5]

Conscripts are known to be poorly trained and poorly motivated. According to a Russian report, not only are the rank-and-file ill-prepared for combat, but 90 percent of the officers were appointed as such after a mere three-month training course. [8]

Russian officers of the border guards regularly voice complaints about the quality of Tajik troops, describing them as "physically unfit, unable to speak Russian, lacking secondary schooling, and prone to desertion or surrender". [11]

forced recruitment

As legal recruitment methods have failed to attract sufficient recruits the armed forces have turned to forced recruitment on various occasions. There have been reports of the press-ganging of young men on the streets by the militia. The commander of the Russian border guards has complained about competition between Russian and Tajik military units for new recruits, and has accused the Tajik of using press-ganging to obtain them. [10]

2 Conscientious objection

The right to conscientious objection is not legally recognized and there are no provisions for substitute service. [1] [2]

After gaining independence in 1991, the previous government was believed to draft legislation on conscientious objection and substitute service. [12]

Since the Tajik Communist Party gained power in late 1992, there have been no known proposals for legislation on conscientious objection.

3 Draft evasion and desertion


No information available.


Draft evasion and desertion are widespread, the reasons including poor conditions and human rights violations within the armed forces and fear of being sent to serve in the frontline.

During the 1996 autumn call-up, for instance, only five per cent of all liable conscripts was recruited into the armed forces, and in the province Leninabad no one was recruited. [5]

During the first 8 months of 1996, 1,000 deserted from the Russian border guards. [10]

Several methods of draft evasion are employed. Some sources claim it is common to obtain false medical certificates through bribery and thus get exempted on medical grounds. Manipulations of exemption procedures for the benefit of wealthy families' and public officials's sons have been subject of public debate. [5]

Others simply do not respond to call-up or move to another town or province when receiving call-up orders. In the latter case the military authorities are often unable to find them as national registration of conscripts is poor and some local authorities do not cooperate over recruitment. (see: recruitment) [4]

6 Annual statistics

The armed forces are estimated to comprise 7,000 to 9,000 troops, that is about 0.15 percent of the population. [13]

Every year approximately 60,000 men reach conscription age. [13]


[1] DIRB, 5 July 1994. [2] Amnesty International 1997. Out of the margins, the right to conscientious objection in Europe. AI, London. [3] Sadoi Mardum, 31 August 1996. [4] Sadoi Mardum, 19 October 1996. [5] Sadoi Mardum, 4 December 1996. [6] Sadoi Mardum, 7 December 1996. [7] Kangas, Roger D. 1996. 'With an Eye on Russia, Central Asian Militaries Practice Cooperation', in: Transition, 9 August 1996. [8] Pannier, Bruce 1996. 'Rebels Strike at the Strategic Center', in: Transition, 28 June 1996. [9] 'Parliament amends military service law'. Tajik radio, Dushanbe, 1 August 1997. [10] 'Tajik border guards deserting'. OMRI Daily Digest, 30 August 1996. [11] 'Tajik border guards in Russian service deemed unreliable'. OMRI Daily Digest, 2 July 1996. [12] Amnesty International 1992. Concerns in Europe: November 1991 - April 1992. AI, London. [13] Institute for Strategic Studies 1997. Military Balance 1997/98. ISS, London.

Recent stories on conscientious objection: Tajikistan

01 Nov. 2002

In keinem Land im Kaukasus oder in Zentralasien ist es bisher möglich, sich frei zwischen Militär- und Zivildienst zu entscheiden.

Meistens besteht noch nicht einmal die Option eines alternativen Dienstes. Die wenigen Staaten, in denen ein entsprechendes Gesetz verabschiedet wurde, haben es keineswegs nach internationalen Standards umgesetzt. So gibt es in Georgien faktisch gar keinen Ersatzdienst, in Kirgisistan und Usbekistan sind hohe Bestechungsgelder nötig, um ihn ableisten zu können.