Annual Report: Kyrgyzstan 2013

Report
May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Kyrgyzstan 2013

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While arbitrary arrests of mainly ethnic Uzbeks appeared to have become less frequent in 2012, reports persisted of serious human rights violations committed against Uzbeks in relation to ongoing investigations into the June 2010 violence and its aftermath, including torture and other ill-treatment in detention, forced confessions and unfair trials. In his February report, the Special Rapporteur on torture expressed his concerns that “serious human rights violations committed in the context of [these] investigations have continued unabated in recent months”.

Unfair trials

The Special Rapporteur on torture stated that he had heard “testimonies, according to which, in trials relating to the violence of June 2010, judges and prosecutors repeatedly failed to act on information of torture or ill-treatment supplied by defendants or their lawyers”. He cited the 20 December 2011 Supreme Court decision to turn down Azimzhan Askarov's appeal and to confirm his life sentence as an “example of the highest judicial body's failure to act on allegations of torture and ill-treatment”. The government accused the Special Rapporteur of being one-sided and stated that the Prosecutor General's Office had conducted a thorough investigation into all the allegations of torture and forced confessions of Azimzhan Askarov and his co-defendants and had found no compelling evidence to substantiate these claims.

  • Azimzhan Askarov, prominent human rights defender and prisoner of conscience, remained in solitary confinement at the end of the year. According to the October report by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR), his medical condition had markedly deteriorated including his eyesight, his nervous system and his breathing, but he did not receive the necessary medical care, which constituted a form of ill-treatment. Following an examination in January, PHR experts concluded that Azimzhan Askarov showed clinical evidence of traumatic brain injury as a result of torture. In November, his lawyer submitted a complaint to the UN Human Rights Committee.

Impunity

Despite initiatives taken by the authorities in the last two years – often in the face of considerable internal opposition – they failed to fairly and effectively investigate the June 2010 violence and its aftermath in the cities of Osh and Jalal-Abad and provide justice for the thousands of victims of the serious crimes and human rights violations, including crimes against humanity.

The Osh City Prosecutor stated in April that out of 105 cases which had gone to trial in relation to the June 2010 violence, only two resulted in acquittals. Only one of those cases involved an ethnic Uzbek, Farrukh Gapirov, the son of human rights defender Ravshan Gapirov. He was released after the appeal court found his conviction had been based on his confession which had been obtained under torture. However, no criminal investigation against the police officers responsible for his torture was initiated.

By contrast, the first – and, to date, the only – known conviction of ethnic Kyrgyz for the murder of ethnic Uzbeks in the course of the June 2010 violence was overturned.

  • In May, the Jalal-Abad Regional Court quashed the convictions of four ethnic Kyrgyz men charged with the murder of two Uzbeks during the June 2010 violence. Two of them had been sentenced to 25 and 20 years in prison respectively in November 2010. Both had alleged that they had been tortured in detention. The others had received suspended sentences of three years. The first appeal court reversed the convictions of the four men, sent the case for additional investigation and released them on bail. Three of the defendants were fully acquitted and the one sentenced to 25 years by the court of first instance was granted a conditional release.

Despite official directives from the Prosecutor General's Office to investigate every single report of torture, prosecutors regularly failed to investigate such allegations thoroughly and impartially, or to bring anyone identified as responsible to justice. The Special Rapporteur found that “[t]he efforts made by the interim Government to investigate and punish the abuses that resulted from the events of June 2010 have proved to be largely ineffective”.