Annual Report: Kazakhstan 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Kazakhstan 2013

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Some of the defendants identified police and security officers who had subjected them to torture and other ill-treatment. The police and security officers, accused by the defendants and their lawyers of opening fire at the demonstrators and ill-treating them in detention, testified in court as victims or witnesses, some of them anonymously. All police and security officers pleaded self-defence. When asked who had given the order to open fire, some of the officers stated that they had not received any orders to open fire but neither had they received any orders not to open fire. The General Prosecutor's Office reviewed the allegations of torture at the request of the presiding judge but rejected the claims. Seven of the defendants were sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

  • Roza Tuletaeva, a labour activist who had been one of the main contact points for media and international organizations during the strike by oil industry workers in 2011, stated in court that during interrogations she was suspended by her hair, that security officers threatened to harm her 14-year-old daughter, that they put a plastic bag over her head to suffocate her and that they sexually humiliated and assaulted her. She said that she was too ashamed to describe the sexual torture she was subjected to in the courtroom as her family and friends were present. She was sentenced to seven years in prison for “inciting social discord”.

Unfair trials

In addition to the 37 individuals who were detained in Zhanaozen in December 2011 and stood trial in March 2012, security forces detained three political opposition activists based in Almaty in January, and a prominent theatre director and a youth activist in June, and charged them with “inciting social discord” and “destabilizing the situation in the region” in relation to the Zhanaozen events. All but two were released conditionally after several weeks in National Security Service (NSS) detention when they agreed to sign confessions, admitting that they had travelled to Zhanaozen to support the striking oil industry workers.

Prejudicial statements made in state-owned media outlets by high-ranking officials against all those charged in relation to Zhanaozen, as well as numerous procedural violations, such as restrictions on legal access and family visits, precluded them from receiving a fair trial. Lawyers acting for the activists in NSS detention were forced to sign non-disclosure statements, barring them from divulging any information relating to the criminal investigation into their clients' cases.