Annual Report: Kazakstan 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Kazakstan 2010

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  • In June, Dmitri Tian and Oleg Evloev were sentenced to 25 years' and life imprisonment respectively by a court in the capital Astana for the premeditated murders of a woman and her three children. Both men claimed that they had not committed the murders, but that they had been tortured in detention in order to force them to confess. According to observers of the trial, the judge instructed the jury not to consider the allegations of torture. Reportedly, a video tape recorded by the police following Oleg Evloev's arrest, showed him covered in bruises, but it was lost by the prosecution. In November, the Supreme Court turned down the appeals by both defendants. No investigations into the allegations of torture were conducted.
  • Inessa Karkhu, an accountant serving an eight-year prison sentence for fraud handed down in 2007, continued to be denied essential medical treatment for glaucoma, a disease that progressively damages vision. Her condition continued to deteriorate throughout the year and it was feared that she could end up losing her sight if she was not treated as a matter of urgency. She had to rely on medication delivered by her family which became difficult when she was transferred to a prison in Almaty, some 1,000km from the capital Astana. Following international pressure, Inessa Karkhu was examined by an independent ophthalmologist in November, who found that the disease had significantly progressed and that both her eyes were affected. Nevertheless, Inessa Karkhu had not received the recommended medical treatment by December.

Counter-terror and security

The National Security Service (NSS), which carries out special operations relating to national security and corruption, continued to use counter-terrorism operations to target minority groups perceived as a threat to national and regional security. Groups particularly affected were asylum-seekers and refugees from Uzbekistan, and members or suspected members of Islamic groups or Islamist parties, either unregistered or banned in Kazakhstan. Some high-profile political actors targeted in anticorruption operations continued to be held in arbitrary and incommunicado detention.

In May, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture stated that "some groups run larger risks of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment than others", noting that the likeliness for foreigners to be subjected to such treatment seemed to be "higher than average".

NSS officers were accused of routinely using torture and other ill-treatment in pre-charge and pretrial detention centres under their jurisdiction. Public Monitoring Commissions, tasked with inspecting detention facilities, were denied access to NSS detention centres.

  • In September, armed and masked NSS officers conducted a night-time raid on the homes of three refugees and two asylum-seekers from Uzbekistan in Almaty. The officers, who did not identify themselves, detained the men and took them to an unidentified location for interrogation, later identified as the NSS building in Almaty. Allegedly, the men were handcuffed and beaten which resulted in one of them having a broken nose, and plastic bags were put over their heads. They reported that the officers threatened them with extradition to Uzbekistan, allegedly for the murder of a policeman. Several hours later they were released without charge. During arrest, they were refused permission to contact their families, a legal representative or UNHCR, the UN refugee agency. A spokesperson of the NSS later denied any use of excessive force and described the raids and detentions as a mere document check.

Unfair trials

Criminal proceedings continued to fall short of international fair trial standards, undermining the rule of law.