Head of government Daniar Usenov (replaced Igor Chudinov in October)
Death penalty abolitionist for ordinary crimes
Population 5.5 million
Life expectancy 67.6 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f)49/42 per 1,000
Adult literacy 99.3 per cent
There were further restrictions on freedom of expression. Three human rights defenders were deported. Security forces used torture and other ill-treatment in the fight against terrorism.
Counter-terror and security
In September, the Head of the National Security Service (NSS) openly advocated public executions, compulsory re-education and separate prison facilities for members of banned Islamic groups and Islamist parties, such as Hizb-ut-Tahrir. June and October saw clashes between security forces and armed groups allegedly affiliated to the banned Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and trying to infiltrate the south of the country.
- In May, the Supreme Court turned down the appeals of all 32 individuals sentenced in November 2008 to prison terms of between nine and 20 years for calling for the overthrow of the constitutional order. The sentences of a 17-year-old boy and two women were reduced. The group had been accused of membership of Hizb-ut-Tahrir and of participating in violent protests in the town of Nookat after the authorities cancelled celebrations at the end of Ramadan in October 2008. The Supreme Court did not order an investigation into allegations that the defendants had been tortured. According to reports, the women had their heads shaved and were forced to stand in freezing water, and the men had their beards set on fire, were stripped naked, tied to metal beds and beaten on the soles of their feet. Families reported that they were threatened by security officers to stop them lodging complaints about the torture allegations.
Human rights defenders
- In February, Vitaly Ponomarev, director of the Central Asia department of the Russian NGO Memorial, was deported to Russia shortly after his arrival in Kyrgyzstan to present a report on unfair trial and torture allegations linked to the Nookat protests (see above). He was banned from re-entering the country for five years.
- In November, Bakhrom Khamroev, a Russian human rights defender of Uzbek origin, was arbitrarily detained by NSS officers while he was conducting research for Memorial on developments relating to the Nookat protests. He was detained incommunicado for over 18 hours and interrogated about his research and his alleged links to banned Islamist groups. Following international pressure he was released and deported to Russia.
- In December, Nigina Bakhrieva, a Tajikistani human rights defender, was banned from entering Kyrgyzstan for 10 years, reportedly for highlighting violations in relation to the Nookat protests during an international human rights training seminar in Bishkek in September.
Freedom of expression
There was an increase in violent and sometimes fatal attacks, some by masked men, on independent journalists, including stabbings, beatings and shootings.
The authorities condemned these attacks and ordered investigations, but denied any link to articles or investigations by the journalists into corruption and organized crime, among other issues.
- In August, a former police officer confessed to the October 2007 murder of ethnic Uzbek journalist and editor Alisher Saipov, but reportedly later withdrew his confession in court, claiming that he had been tortured. The Court of First Instance decided to send the case for investigation but in December the Supreme Court overruled this decision.