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Briefing for human rights seminar organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

This document has been prepared by the following Central Asian NGOs: the NGO Coalitions Against Torture in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Turkmenistan’s Independent Lawyers Association (TILA, based in exile in the Netherlands), Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights (TIHR, based in exile in Austria) and the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia (AHRCA, based in exile in France), together with Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights (Poland) and International Partnership for Human Rights (Belgium).

Torture and other forms of ill-treatment continue to be of serious concern in all Central Asian countries and impunity of perpetrators of torture is the norm.1 Not one of the Central Asian governments publishes comprehensive statistics on complaints, investigations and convictions of perpetrators and many victims refrain from lodging complaints for fear of reprisals or because they do not trust that the existing system will give them access to justice.

Since January 2015, the NGO Coalition against Torture in Kazakhstan has registered over 70 new cases of men, women and children who allege to have been subjected to torture and ill-treatment. In the same period, the NGO Coalition against Torture in Kyrgyzstan registered around 100 new cases and the NGO Coalition in Tajikistan registered over 35 new cases. After visiting Uzbekistan in 2003 the UN Special Rapporteur on torture
concluded that the use of torture and ill-treatment was “systematic“ in that country. Although the absence of any level of effective public monitoring does not allow for a comprehensive assessment of the human rights situation, credible reports received by AHRCA indicate that torture and ill-treatment have become an integral part of the criminal justice system in Uzbekistan, and are central to how the authorities deal with critics and
dissent. From 2011 to date, AHRCA received over 165 allegations of torture and ill-treatment during investigation and detention from Uzbekistan, 27 of which were received from January to October 2015. Due to the repressive nature of the regime, no independent human rights groups are able to operate in Turkmenistan and it is impossible to comprehensively study the situation of torture, but activists in exile have received credible allegations of torture and ill-treatment on a regular basis. The authorities persistently deny that torture exists and, to our knowledge, no one has yet been charged under the Article of “torture“ that was added to the Criminal Code of Turkmenistan in 2012.

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