In Dialogue with Kyrgyzstan, Experts of the Human Rights Committee Commend Legislation Promoting Freedom of Religious Belief , Raise Issues Concerning Corruption and Detainees’ Access to Lawyers
The Human Rights Committee this morning concluded its consideration of the sixth periodic report of Kyrgyzstan on how it implements the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, with Committee Experts commending legislation promoting freedom of religious belief, and raising issues concerning corruption and detainees’ access to lawyers.
One Committee Expert welcomed that the Freedom of Religion and Religious Organizations Act had been amended to bring it in line with the Covenant. However, joint activity of a group of believers without State registration was currently prohibited. How did the draft law address concerns about current limitations on the freedom of religion? How did the State party ensure dignified burials for the Christian community?
A Committee Expert said that in 2021, Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index ranked Kyrgyzstan 144th out of 180 States, falling 20 places from 2020. How many public officials had been convicted of corruption, and what punishments did they receive? How would the State combat corruption? What measures were in place to ensure transparency regarding Government purchases?
Another Committee Expert said that increased judicial guarantees to ensure access to a lawyer and a doctor for persons arrested or detained were theoretical because there were not enough lawyers, and access to a lawyer was often provided only during the trial. What measures were in place to provide access to a lawyer?
On the draft law on freedom of religion, the delegation said that it was being considered by civil society and various experts. The new legislation would ensure the freedom of religious belief. Guarantees for dignified burials were important. The State was preparing to issue a decree providing for places in State cemeteries.
On corruption, the delegation said that Kyrgyzstan’s new administration was working to fight corruption. Government revenue had been increased by 54 per cent in the first eight months of 2022 through proper administration of taxes. The prosecution service and other law enforcement agencies had sections devoted to combatting corruption. Legislation on combatting corruption had been developed in compliance with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe regulations and international standards.
Regarding access to a lawyer, the delegation said that all detained persons had access to a lawyer before trial. The number of lawyers on the State register had been increased to 469. New legislation on State legal assistance had been drafted to extend legal assistance to victims of domestic and gender-based violence and trafficking. The State was also increasing the number of local coordinators who provided legal aid.
Edil Baisalov, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic and head of the delegation, in closing remarks, said that the State party was pursuing various reforms, and hoped that in four years, it would be able to present the progress of these reforms to the Committee. It would work harder in future to implement the recommendations of the Committee.
Photini Pazartzis, Committee Chairperson, in concluding remarks, said that the dialogue came at a timely moment, shortly after amendments of the Constitution and with legal reforms underway. This gave the Committee the opportunity to assess the compatibility of new legislation with the provisions of the Covenant. The practical way in which rights guarantees were implemented was important, particularly regarding the administration of justice, freedom of expression, and the rights of minorities. In closing, Ms. Pazartzis congratulated Kyrgyzstan on its election to the Human Rights Council.
The delegation of Kyrgyzstan was made up of representatives of the Cabinet of Ministers; Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan; Ministry of Justice; Ministry of Internal Affairs; Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Migration; General Prosecutor's Office; Department of the State Committee for National Security; Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and the Permanent Mission of Kyrgyzstan to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Human Rights Committee’s one hundred and thirty-sixth session is being held from 10 October to 4 November. All the documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, can be found on the session’s webpage. Meeting summary releases can be found here. The webcast of the Committee’s public meetings can be accessed via the UN Web TV webpage.
The Committee has before it the third periodic report of Kyrgyzstan (CCPR/C/KGZ/3).
Presentation of the Report
EDIL BAISALOV, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic and head of the delegation, said since achieving independence in 1991, Kyrgyzstan had developed into the most vibrant democracy in Central Asia, with a free press and a dynamic and active civil society, competitive elections and a democratic Government. Mr. Baisalov said that he had been at the forefront in defending and promoting human and civic rights as a non-governmental organization leader, human rights defender and civil society activist. Current President Sadyr Japarov had been jailed under trumped up charges and sentenced to 11 years in prison. Mr. Japarov served almost four years of his jail term before being liberated through large scale public protests. Since his free and fair election in 2021, President Japarov had led reforms aimed at improving and strengthening democracy in Kyrgyzstan and ensuring the rights and freedoms of citizens.
In April 2021, a new Constitution was adopted that ensured that Parliament was now composed of national representatives who were directly elected. The Parliamentary elections that took place a year ago ensured that Parliament was now vibrant, composed of 90 members representing six political parties. This Parliament, along with a free and active civil society and media, ensured accountability and transparency of all Government action.
Mr. Baisalov said that the State adhered to the highest standards and norms of United Nations treaties and conventions. Some of the issues that would be discussed concerned the period in which the current Government was not in power, and many members of the current Government had voiced their opposition to these past practices. The State party was in the process of reviewing a number of cases and issues raised by the Human Rights Committee and hoped to appropriately address them.
Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert noted positive changes in the 2021 Constitution, such as the placement of human rights and freedoms in the overall framework and the re-establishment of the Constitutional Court. Article six of the Constitution regulated the place of international law in the domestic legal system. What was the status of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights? Could individuals claim a violation of the provisions of the Covenant before domestic courts?
Kyrgyzstan had made significant progress in addressing statelessness. In July 2019, Kyrgyzstan became the first country in history to resolve all known cases of statelessness on its territory. The Committee was concerned, however, about amendments to the 2016 Constitution and the Law on Citizenship Deprivation which allowed for the deprivation of citizenship on several grounds not consistent with international human rights standards. How did the State party ensure that these processes were compliant with human rights standards?
The Expert welcomed that a manual on international human rights standards for judges had been developed and trainings had been held for the judiciary in 2020 and 2021. Did the State offer training courses on specific provisions of the Covenant? The Expert also called for information on measures taken to implement the Views previously adopted by the Committee regarding the State party’s violations of the Covenant. What steps had been taken to widely disseminate those Views?
Further, the Expert called for information on the application of counter-terrorism legislation in practice, including relevant, disaggregated statistics regarding prosecutions and convictions for terrorism and extremism offences. The Expert welcomed the State party’s efforts to repatriate nationals detained in Iraq and Syria. Around 450 Kyrgyz nationals, mainly women and children, were still waiting for repatriation. How many nationals had been repatriated? What measures were in place to repatriate citizens detained as suspected family members of fighters of the so-called Islamic State? How did revisions to the law on countering terrorism comply with international human rights standards? Did the State have safeguards to prevent the arbitrary use of counter-terrorism measures to restrict legitimate exercises of rights and freedoms?
Another Committee Expert said that in March 2021, a Council of Europe and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe joint opinion noted that Kyrgyzstan’s Ombudsperson’s competencies, terms of office, and provisions for dismissal were unclear. How would the State party ensure legal clarity in the Ombudsperson’s competencies, term of office, and dismissal? A new draft law governing the Ombudsman was being developed to comply with the Paris Principles. What were the causes for the delay in the development of this draft law? Was civil society consulted on this draft? Why was the State considering merging the Ombudsperson and the National Centre for the Prevention of Torture? How would the State ensure that both institutions operated independently and effectively?
In April 2020, the President declared a state of emergency in multiple Kyrgyz provinces in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Was this emergency declaration warranted? When did the State party plan to end the state of emergency? The orders in Osh province were only available in one language, which was Kyrgyz. Linguistic minorities were unable to understand the rules and were disproportionately fined and arrested. Kyrgyzstan was revising the 2018 Civil Defence Act, which covered state of emergency rules. How would revisions bring emergency measures in line with the Covenant?
In 2021, a law on false information allowing Internet censorship without a judicial decision was adopted using an accelerated procedure. What measures had Kyrgyzstan taken to ensure expedited laws such as this complied with human rights obligations under the Covenant?
The 2021 Code of Criminal Procedure contained provisions to deny extradition requests when there were “grounds to believe that torture may occur”. What did such grounds constitute? Individuals had reportedly been extradited despite the risk of torture, including a Kazakh blogger, an Uzbek journalist and a Turkish educator, each critical of their government. Why had these persons been extradited? How would remedies be provided to their families? The Human Rights Plan 2022–2024 included an “extradition control mechanism” and a mechanism for the challenging of expulsion decisions. When would these mechanisms be established, and how would they be operated?
Another Committee Expert said that many forms of discrimination were prohibited in the 2021 Constitution. However, there was no comprehensive anti-discrimination law, and the Constitution did not mention discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Further, there were no laws on hate speech or hate crimes. What progress had the State party made on developing such legislation? What remedies were available to victims of discrimination, and how many complaints had been lodged? What awareness campaigns on the elimination of discrimination had been carried out?
During the reporting period, the State party had taken a series of legislative measures to create conditions for women’s equal representation in the national parliament. The Expert commended that, since 2011, elections had 30 per cent quotas for female representation. As of June 2022, around 37 per cent of representatives in local parliaments were women. However, the proportion of female members in the national parliament was still 21 per cent. What measures had the State party taken to promote women’s participation in the national parliament, and in decision-making processes in various fields, including education, healthcare and the private sector?
One Committee Expert asked about measures taken in response to large numbers of Internet articles inciting discrimination and hatred based on sexual orientation and gender identity? There were 258 such articles in 2020. How many training sessions had been conducted for State agents on discrimination? There were reports that State agents had committed discriminatory acts based on sexual orientation and gender identity. How many investigations had been carried out into those, and how many agents prosecuted and sanctioned?
What activities had the National Referral Mechanism for Victims of Trafficking carried out since its creation in 2019? What training was provided to magistrates related to trafficking in persons? How many State-sponsored shelters for victims of domestic violence were currently operating, and what budget was provided for these shelters? Which organizations were working to prevent domestic violence? How many reports of domestic violence were received each year? How did the State ensure access to justice for victims?
How many investigations were being carried out concerning the sexual exploitation of children? What measures did the State party have in place for the protection of the rights of migrant children? How many convictions had been issued concerning trafficking of children? What measures had the State party taken to combat forced and early marriages, which according to some reports persisted after their prohibition?
Another Committee Expert asked for information on measures implemented to fight against impunity related to cases of torture. What penalties had been issued to persons who committed torture, and what compensation was provided for victims? Why would the National Centre for the Prevention of Torture be dissolved? What mechanisms were available to judges who found that confessions had been extracted by force? Torture was reportedly used in juvenile detention centres, and military and psychiatric institutions. What measures were in place to prevent torture in these institutions and provide repatriation for victims? Since 2014, repatriation had been granted for only four victims of torture.
Ethnic discrimination, including stigmatisation of Uzbeks, Turks, Uyghurs, Mugats and Tajiks; hate speech; and ethnic profiling by the police, were reportedly common. However, the National Agency for Local Authorities and Inter-Ethnic Relations had received few complaints related to such discrimination. Why was this? What measures were in place to prevent ethnic discrimination and stereotypes? How did the State ensure the representation of minorities in positions of responsibility? Minorities were under-represented in the National Agency. What measures would the State party take to strengthen the Agency and the Policy Paper on strengthening the unity of the people, which reportedly did not address all ethnic groups?
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation said that several drafts of the current Constitution had been considered. The drafts had been discussed by Government agencies and civil society in the Constitutional Council. The current Constitution prohibited the removal of citizenship. The Constitution was fully in line with the Covenant and other international treaties. The Constitution included provisions on the State’s obligation to provide education free of charge and social welfare. Under the Constitution, every person had the right to report violations of their rights and pursue compensation.
Last year, around 79 children were evacuated from Iraq and Syria. The State intended to respond to the humanitarian needs of its citizens abroad.
In 2021, the new Parliament elected the first female Ombudsperson, the delegation said. The Government was working to bring the draft law on the Ombudsperson in line with the Paris Principles. The draft law was being consulted on with civil society and international organizations. There was a duplication of duties between the National Office on the Prevention of Torture and the Ombudsperson. These two institutions would be merged after the Ombudsperson was brought in line with the Paris Principles. This would strengthen responses to allegations of torture and other human rights issues.
The delegation said the state of emergency was declared in March 2020 before a case of COVID-19 was reported, and was fully lifted in December 2021. However, an emergency situation had been declared in one area due to aggression from Tajikistan. The State would consider revising legislation on emergency situations to bring it in line with the Covenant.
Several laws were currently being amended, including the law on non-profit organizations. This law made the activities of non-profit organizations more transparent. Under this law, non-profit organizations reported to the State on their expenditure of funds. The State had compiled a list of over 200 laws that required amendments. There had been 16 new laws adopted by the new Government.
The Constitution established legal frameworks concerning the right to privacy, as well as protections for the independence of the media. Journalists could report on issues without prohibition or censorship.
Kyrgyzstan had ratified eight of the nine international human rights conventions. It was currently implementing the recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.
The Human Rights Action Plan of 2019 to 2021 had a 68 per cent implementation rate. The 2022 to 2024 Action Plan would address areas that could not be fully implemented under the last Plan. It included measures to promote the right to a healthy environment and to promote corruption. The Plan would be adopted in the next few weeks.
Civil society had previously expressed concerns regarding the Criminal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code, and the Infractions Code. An inter-ministerial working group had been created to assess this legislation in 2020, and this working group had drafted new versions of this legislation that had subsequently been adopted. Ineffectual fines were removed from the new legislation; and provisions allowing for the arrest of perpetrators of domestic violence and clear definitions for court procedures and the appeals process were included. A system of juvenile justice was also implemented under new legislation, allowing for cases where minors were in conflict with the law to be assessed outside of courts. The new Criminal Procedural Code provided for the decisions of treaty bodies to be considered as reasonable grounds for reopening criminal cases.
The Prosecutor decided on whether to extradite a foreign citizen who committed a crime in the State. Extraditions were conducted in line with international human rights standards, and could be appealed. Foreign States were obliged to provide Kyrgyzstan with all necessary documents related to trials of extradited persons. In the extradition cases mentioned, the persons involved had been provided with fair trials and protections from torture. The Uzbek blogger in question had been released following his extradition. Regarding the case of the Turkish educator, negligence by border authorities was being investigated.
Kyrgyzstan had signed and ratified the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. All complaints of torture were duly investigated. Cases of torture were examined by prosecution authorities, who were committed to implementing the Istanbul Protocol. All medical and detention centres communicated to relevant authorities regarding suspected cases of torture. Compensation had been paid in four cases related to torture.
The Government had reformed various sections of the Ministry of Interior. The Ministry aimed to strengthen the partnership between society and the police. The Ministry had created a new section within the police to prevent domestic violence. Standards for preventing and sanctioning domestic violence had been developed, and support centres for victims had been established, which provided medical, legal and other support.
The Ministry of Interior carried out raids to prevent child labour. Members of ethnic minorities had an equal right to take up positions in public and private institutions. The Ministry had worked to increase the representation of ethnic minorities and women within Government agencies.
To respond to the issue of human trafficking and sexual exploitation, a law on the prevention of trafficking and transnational organised crime had been developed in 2017. This law introduced mechanisms for preventing trafficking, identifying victims, protecting their confidentiality, and supporting their rehabilitation. To increase capacities, training sessions on trafficking were held with the support of international organizations. Information campaigns were also carried out on identifying and preventing trafficking.
The Constitution included provisions promoting gender equality, and legislation on gender equality had also been developed. Within the national parliament, there were currently 19 female deputy ministers; 43 per cent of public administrative posts were occupied by women. The electoral committee planned to strengthen the capacity of female candidates and encourage further increases in women’s participation in politics.
The State was working to identify children involved in child labour. It provided social and rehabilitation services to affected children, as well as psychological support. A hotline for reporting child labour had been established. There were 18 crisis centres for victims of domestic violence. Budgets for these centres had been increased.
Questions by Committee Experts
A Committee Expert called for more information on the reintroduction of “pre-investigation” procedures for domestic violence cases. How were the rights of suspects protected during the seven-day detention period?
The Expert took note of increased judicial guarantees, including provisions to ensure access to a lawyer and a doctor for persons arrested and detained. However, these guarantees were theoretical because there were not enough lawyers and access to a lawyer was often provided only during the trial. Medical examinations were very superficial, and sometimes performed by persons who did not have medical training. The arrest, interrogation and detention of children was carried out without the presence of parents or guardians. Delays in proceedings often hindered detainees’ ability to challenge the legality of their detention. What measures were in place to provide access to a lawyer and a professional medical examination; to provide adequate and effective protection to children deprived of their liberty; and to provide substitutions for pre-trial detention?
Overcrowding in prisons remained a problem, as did the conditions of detention, particularly for persons sentenced to life imprisonment. The suicide death rate remained alarming. Conditions in psychiatric hospitals were also reportedly poor. How would the State ensure effective investigation of deaths in prison, including those by suicide? What alternatives to detention were offered for persons with a poor state of health? How was disability treated in prisons? What was the status of the investigation on the death in prison of human rights defender Azimjan Askarov in July 2020?
Two civilians had died during a police operation in 2015. What protocols were in place to regulate the use of weapons by law enforcement agencies, and to prevent the excessive use of force?
Another Committee Expert said that the National Centre for the Prevention of Torture was reportedly working well. How would merging the institution with the Ombudsperson strengthen its functions?
In March 2017, President Sadyr Japarov was imprisoned for kidnapping a local government official. In October 2020, he was freed from prison by protesters.
Within weeks, his conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court. Fair trial procedures were reportedly not followed in his appeal. How would the State ensure that the judiciary was free from political pressure, including in high profile political cases?
The 2021 Constitutional amendments granted the President power to appoint members of the judiciary, giving him more direct control over the judiciary than he previously had. Presidential power was reportedly eroding judicial independence, as demonstrated by the appointment of Zamirbek Bazarbekov, the President’s lawyer in 2012, as the Chair of the Supreme Court. How did the State ensure the independence of the judiciary?
A majority of Kyrgyz lawyers reportedly felt unsafe and found institutional safeguards insufficient. Certain lawyers were threatened by police many times during their work representing political prisoners, and one lawyer had criminal charges filed against him in retribution for defending individuals who had been tortured. What protections would the State provide for lawyers? How was the harassment of lawyers investigated and addressed?
In 2021, Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index ranked Kyrgyzstan 144th out of 180 States, falling 20 places from 2020. How many public officials had been convicted of corruption, and what punishments did they receive? How would the State combat corruption? A 2022 draft bill appeared to make asset declarations of public officials private. Would this not be detrimental to corruption investigations? What measures were in place to ensure transparency regarding Government purchases? Reports noted that judicial corruption was also a problem in Kyrgyzstan, especially bribe taking. What measures had the State party taken to address corruption in the judiciary?
All prisoners were deprived of the right to vote. What measures were in place to allow at least some prisoners to vote?
One Committee Expert said that Elders’ Courts, which were elective and autonomous public bodies formed on a voluntary basis, performed judicial functions, deciding on disputes between citizens. The Committee was concerned that members of these courts did not have sufficient legal knowledge, particularly relating to human rights. How many Elders’ Courts were in practice? What measures were in place to ensure fair trials and non-discrimination in these Courts?
The Expert called for more information on corporal punishment occurring in family, school and other care facilities, and on investigations, prosecutions, convictions and penalties imposed concerning family violence against children since 2014. Were criminal sanctions effective in decreasing incidences of corporal punishment?
In June 2021, the Parliament passed legislative amendments to the Law on Non-Profit Organizations which imposed financial reporting requirements on these organizations. Failure to comply with the new reporting obligations could result in serious penalties, including the closure of organizations. The new requirements were reportedly overly burdensome for small organizations. How did the State party ensure that civil society organizations could seek, receive and use domestic and international funding without prior authorization or other undue obstacles? Had the State party consulted with civil society on the amendments to this legislation? What progress had been made in amending the law on trade unions?
Another Committee Expert said that out of 57 Views issued by the Committee on Kyrgyzstan, the State had provided compensation in only four cases. The Expert called on the State party to expedite processes to respond to these Views. Why had a low amount of compensation been paid for grave human rights violations compared to defamation cases? How did the State party publicly disseminate Views?
There were no indications that the Government was taking concrete steps to repatriate women and children from conflict zones, particularly Syria and Iraq. The Expert called for information on the actions taken in this regard.
The involvement of civil society in the development of national legislation and policies had reportedly decreased. How did the Government plan to engage more with civil society? The period of public discussion on draft laws had been reduced to one week. Was this sufficient?
The Expert welcomed that the Freedom of Religion and Religious Organizations Act had been amended to bring it in line with the Covenant. However, joint activity of a group of believers without State registration was currently prohibited. How did the draft law address concerns about current limitations on the freedom of religion? Did it remove barriers to the registration of organizations of smaller religious minorities? Which institution was responsible for registering religious organizations? Kyrgyz journalist Zulpukar Sapanov had received a four-year jail sentence for allegedly “inciting hatred between religious faiths” in a book about pre-Islamic beliefs. What measures were in place to protect from such violations of freedom of religious beliefs? How did the State party ensure dignified burials for the Christian community? What measures had been taken to prevent religious xenophobia?
What measures had the State party taken to promote the participation of ethnic minorities in political life? Had ethnic quotas for political parties been introduced? The Expert called for data disaggregated by ethnicity on the representation of ethnic minorities in the judiciary, prosecution and police. The number of Uzbek schools had almost been halved in recent years. What measures were in place to facilitate education in minority languages?
What steps had the State party taken to vaccinate the population, given the low rate of vaccination? About three million doses had been administered, with a population of about 6.5 million. Certain districts had failed to provide information on COVID-19 in minority languages. How were restrictions imposed on freedom of expression and assembly in response to COVID-19 consistent with obligations under the Covenant and the Optional Protocol?
A Committee Expert asked the delegation to respond to reports that journalists, human rights defenders, lawyers and politicians had been victims of intimidation, harassment and persecution as well as attacks. What measures were in place to investigate these acts, prosecute and punish their perpetrators, and provide reparations to victims? How many journalists had been prosecuted for social media posts? What was the legal basis for these lawsuits? What was the status of the draft law on the right to access information? What measures had the State party taken to ensure media freedom under the new media law?
The Expert also asked for a comment on allegations that authorities took a discriminatory approach to dispersing protests based on their motives. How many protesters had been detained between 2020 and 2022? How did the State party ensure that civil society organizations could operate without interference?
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation said that the National Centre for the Prevention of Torture continued to fulfil its functions. A debate was ongoing about whether this Centre should be merged with the Ombudsperson.
A special Presidential Commission had been established to investigate deaths in prison. Members of the families of the victims, members of parliament, human rights defenders and other Government officials had met and examined State detention centres. The Commission had concluded that suicides had taken place. The State was planning to dedicate funds to reforming the penitentiary system to improve standards in detention centres.
Cases of corporal punishment by schoolteachers had shocked society. The society in Kyrgyzstan did not tolerate physical violence against children. In all cases, teachers had been removed and received disciplinary action. Until April this year, teachers had been underpaid. Since April, teachers’ salaries had been raised by 80 per cent. Average class sizes were now at 50 children in some schools due to the high youth population. There was a need to increase the number of teachers to help this overwhelmed system.
The additional requirements in draft legislation on non-governmental organizations to report finances were not excessive, and were comparative to measures implemented in other countries. This law had not yet come into force. The delegation denied the existence of a law on “foreign agents”. It was not excessive for the Government to know what kind of funding was received by non-governmental organizations and religious organizations.
The rate of vaccinated persons was around 35 per cent. This rate was low because two-thirds of the population were children and young people. The State would continue efforts to vaccinate citizens and provide information in languages accessible to ethnic minorities.
Stigmatisation of minorities through articles was evidence of the State’s active and vibrant civil society and free press. Such debate was useful for removing taboos around minorities. The Government would not enforce norms related to stigmatisation until the society was ready to accept them. However, the Constitution did provide protections for these groups from discrimination and hate speech.
The Government was committed to expanding State funding of shelters for women and children 10-fold next year.
There had been cases of violent acts against journalists and human rights defenders. However, in all cases, police had stepped in and brought the perpetrators to justice. Some journalists had instigated hate speech and inter-ethnic strife. It was necessary for the State to protect public peace and prevent violations of peace.
Court proceedings were impartial and guided by the law. A mechanism to assess the effectiveness of the judiciary was being developed. The State aimed to simplify and improve the transparency of proceedings. The procedure for appointing judges followed pre-determined rules. The representation of women judges was at over 30 per cent in all State courts.
Medical inspections were carried out in specialised medical institutions, in line with the Istanbul Protocol. Administrative detention was imposed only after a medical examination. After 48 hours of detention, persons deprived of liberty were required to be brought before a court. This period could not be extended. Minors were not questioned without the presence of parents or guardians and a lawyer. Each case of detention was registered in a database. If persons were not given access to a lawyer, no action could be filed against them. All detained persons had access to a lawyer before trials. Any administrative detention was handed down only through a judicial decision.
The use of firearms by police was judicially regulated and assessed. Police were prohibited from using weapons against pregnant women or minors.
The Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code were drafted by lawyers, academics and civil society. These codes were based on the Constitution and the standards of international treaties. The codes guaranteed that the rights of all participants in the judicial process were upheld. Persons could be detained for a considerable length of time and bank accounts’ frozen under past legislation, violating the rights of detainees. Current pre-trial legislation fully respected citizens’ rights. Questioning only occurred when a lawyer was present. Arrest, detention and freezing of property could only occur when it had been found that a crime had been committed. There were three alternatives to detention: bail, house arrest, and a ban from leaving the country.
When deaths in custody occurred, they were investigated to determine the reason for the death. In the case of Azimjan Askarov, it had been found that the cell mate was responsible for the death, and the cell mate was duly prosecuted.
Kyrgyzstan ensured that torture did not occur after extraditions through agreements with destination States.
Lawyers’ allegations of threats by police were fully investigated. When it was found that rights were violated, perpetrators were brought to court. If guilt could not be determined within one year, the persons deprived of liberty were freed. A pilot programme on pre-trial detention facilities was in place. Under this programme, detainees’ faces were scanned and registered to prevent unlawful detention.
The prosecution service and other law enforcement agencies had sections devoted to combatting corruption. Legislation on combatting corruption had been developed in compliance with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe regulations. This legislation incorporated international standards.
A centre for State legal aid coordinated legal assistance from local authorities and civil society. Such assistance had been given to 70,000 individuals since 2017. The number of lawyers on the State register had been increased to 469. New legislation on State legal assistance had been drafted to extend legal assistance to victims of domestic and gender-based violence and trafficking. The State was also increasing the number of local coordinators who provided legal aid.
There were around 1,500 people currently in pre-trial detention centres. Women were held in separate facilities to men, and minors were separated from adults. The total penitentiary system housed 16,000 inmates. There was no overcrowding in penitentiary facilities. The State had established measures to relocate four institutions and create new high-security prisons in the south of the country. A hospital for inmates was also being constructed. The budget for upgrading facilities had increased by 30 million som.
The draft law on trade unions had been adopted by the Parliament, but the President had returned it to the Parliament three times with objections. These indicated a need for consultations with trade unions and the International Labour Organization to ensure compliance with international commitments. A new, revised bill had undergone social negotiation and was ready to be submitted to the President. If approved, it would be brought before the Parliament for consideration.
A working group was continuing to discuss reforms to legislation to give prisoners the right to vote.
The draft law on freedom of religion was being considered by civil society and various experts. The new legislation would ensure the freedom of religious belief.
Freedom of the media was one of the State’s major achievements. There were no obstacles to registering a media organization, and no State censorship. Concerns about proposed amendments to the media law had been raised by media representatives, and these amendments were subsequently withdrawn.
Elders’ Courts were introduced in the 1990s to provide relief to the judiciary system. These courts considered minor demeanours. Several Government agencies were calling for issues such as domestic violence to not be handled by these courts. The Government would consider how to strengthen these Courts and regulate the scope of their work.
The law on transparency of property for public officials had been functioning for 17 years. The demands of this law were very specific, and far stricter than similar laws in Western States. The law had not helped the State to prevent corruption, as many Government ministers simply chose to not report their assets. The Government was reviewing the legislation to ensure that it functioned and served its purpose. The new administration was working to fight corruption. Government revenue had been increased by 54 per cent in the first eight months of 2022 through the proper administration of taxes. Officials accused of corruption had been asked to contribute financially to the Government.
There was a need to review the dangers faced by persons after extradition, and to review legislation on whistle blowers.
The delegation denied that the number of schools providing tuition in Uzbek had decreased. These schools now provided education not only in Uzbek but also in Russian to help school graduates to find employment.
Guarantees for dignified burials were important. The State was preparing to issue a decree providing for places in State cemeteries.
In response to a follow-up question on whether the draft law on non-governmental organizations would restrict these organizations’ activities if they received foreign funding, the delegation said that non-governmental organizations would continue to operate freely, even when they received foreign funds.
In response to a follow-up question on measures to protect the right to life for persons affected by the conflict with Tajikistan, the delegation said that there were violations of the right to life and a great number of damages suffered after the violent attack by Tajikistan, and the Government was working to support those affected.
EDIL BAISALOV, Deputy Chairman of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic and head of the delegation, thanked the Committee for its advice and for the friendly atmosphere of the dialogue. He also thanked civil society for submitting over 25 alternative reports, which would inform the Government’s future work. Kyrgyzstan looked forward to receiving the Committee’s recommendations. It was pursuing various reforms, and hoped that in four years, it would be able to present the progress of these reforms to the Committee. It would work harder in future to implement the recommendations of the Committee.
PHOTINI PAZARTZIS, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for participating in the dialogue. The dialogue came at a timely moment, shortly after amendments of the Constitution and with legal reforms underway. This gave the Committee the opportunity to assess the compatibility of new legislation with the provisions of the Covenant. The practical way in which rights guarantees were implemented was important, particularly regarding the administration of justice, freedom of expression, and the rights of minorities. The Committee had raised important questions concerning the national human rights institute and the implementation of the Views of the Committee. It was happy to note increased engagement with civil society. In closing, Ms. Pazartzis congratulated Kyrgyzstan on its election to the Human Rights Council.
Produced by the United Nations Information Service in Geneva for use of the information media;
not an official record. English and French versions of our releases are different as they are the product of two separate coverage teams that work independently.