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Prevention of torture in Kyrgyzstan: HFHR submits amicus curiae opinion

The HFHR has prepared an amicus curiae opinion for the Kyrgyz court hearing the case of S., a victim of torture sentenced to 14 years in prison for the alleged trafficking in drugs.

S.J. case

In April 2014, unidentified assailants attacked S.J. and his wife. Both were repeatedly beaten and later driven in separate cars to the headquarters of the National Drug Control Service, where S. was once again violently beaten. NDCS officers threaten him with raping his wife and putting them both away in prison. S. was coerced into the admission of having sold a large quantity of narcotics.

He yielded to the abuse and agreed to the demands of the officers, who later arranged the narcotics to be “found” under the bathroom in the couple’s apartment. The district court in Bishkek found S. guilty and sentenced him to 14 years of imprisonment and confiscation of assets. An appellate court and the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan affirmed the decision of the first instance court.

Amicus curiae opinion

The HFHR has submitted its legal opinion to a court in Bishkek, emphasising that the prohibition against torture is a basic principle of international law.

“This case involved violations of not only the provisions of Kyrgyzstan’s Constitution that prohibit inhuman treatment but also provisions of international law, including those of the UN Convention against Torture”, says HFHR lawyer dr Aleksandra Iwanowska, an author of the amicus curiae opinion. “S. was brutally beaten. Apart from physical injuries he suffered mental anguish and received very serious threats. All these activities of law enforcement services meet the criteria of torture”, adds Ms Iwanowska.

Even more worryingly, this ordeal is not an isolated case. “His case corresponds to a typical pattern of the use of torture in Kyrgyzstan, well documented in the records of independent international organisations”, explains Maria Ejchart-Dubois, an attorney working with the HFHR and an author of the amicus. She adds: “After his arrest, S. was not afforded basic guarantees against torture such as a fair and independent medical examination or the right to contact a lawyer promptly after arrest; also the time of the couple’s arrest has been incorrectly recorded”.

Counteracting torture

The Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has been long involved in advocating access to fair trials and preventing torture in Poland and abroad. As part of its international litigation work, the Foundation prepares amicus curiae opinions for domestic institutions, and also prepares reports and analyses on countries of Central Asia for inter-governmental bodies such as the UN, EU or OSCE.

Legal opinion is available for viewing in Polish and Russian.

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