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2015 OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting

2015 OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting
Working Session 8 Rule of Law: Prevention of torture 

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan need to do more to end torture

The NGO coalitions against torture in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland), International Partnership for Human Rights (Belgium) and Norwegian Helsinki Committee would like to commend the authorities of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan for recently having pioneered several positive steps and urge them to follow each other’s examples. In addition, they should implement all recommendations issued to them by United Nations (UN) human rights bodies and procedures in recent years as a matter or priority.

Kazakhstan’s new Criminal Code that came into force in January 2015 excluded those charged or convicted of “torture“ from amnesties and abolished the statute of limitations applicable to this crime. Legal safeguards pertaining to detainees in pre-trial detention were significantly strengthened in the new Criminal Procedure Code that came into force the same month. For example, it clarified that key safeguards including access to a lawyer must be in place upon or promptly after apprehension.

In Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan the Ministry of Health obliged medical personnel – when conducting examinations of detainees — to document torture and other ill-treatment in line with principles contained in the UN’s Istanbul Protocol.

Torture victims or their families have received compensation payments for moral damages based on rulings of civil courts in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. In Kazakhstan the civil courts acted after United Nations treaty bodies had urged Kazakhstan to provide compensation to torture victims who had applied to the UN bodies under their individual complaints procedure.

In Kyrgyzstan a fully independent National Preventative Mechanism (NPM), set up under the National Center of the Kyrgyz Republic for the Prevention of Torture, started visiting detention facilities in 2014. The same year Kazakhstan’s NPM, set up under the Ombudsman’s office, also started its work and has already discussed its first Consolidated Report, issued in May 2015.

In November 2014, the Criminal Procedure Code of Tajikistan was amended to the effect that extradition must be denied when there is a risk of torture in the receiving country. Kazakhstan has similar legislation in place.

Despite these steps, torture and ill-treatment continue in all Central Asian countries and impunity is the norm. The authorities do not publish comprehensive statistics on cases of torture and ill-treatment.

Since January 2015, the NGO Coalition against Torture in Kazakhstan has registered 67 new cases of men, women and children who allege to have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment. In the same period, the NGO Coalition against Torture in Kyrgyzstan registered over 98 new cases and the NGO Coalition in Tajikistan registered 32 new cases.

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An oral intervention during the working session is available here.

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