Experts of the Committee against Torture Commend Kazakhstan for Enhanced Legislation, Ask Questions about January 2022 Events and Complaint Mechanisms for Prisoners
The Committee against Torture today concluded its consideration of the fourth periodic report of Kazakhstan, with Committee Experts commending the State’s enhanced legislation on torture, and asking questions on deaths in custody as a result of the January 2022 events, and complaint mechanisms available for persons deprived of their liberty.
Ana Racu, Committee Vice Chairperson and Rapporteur for the report of Kazakhstan, positively highlighted the adoption of the law which introduced the definition of a "person acting in an official capacity" and prohibited conditional sentences for the acts of torture. She said Kazakhstan should be commended for this.
Ms. Racu asked the delegation about the events of January 2022, which were of deep social resonance. Could the delegation update the Committee on the exact number of deaths in custody, and provide information on the deaths of 238 individuals and on the measures introduced to bring to justice all those responsible for deaths, torture and ill treatment, restraint measures imposed on potential perpetrators, and protection measures ensured for victims? How many cases were dropped as a result of procedural agreements with defendants in the form of a plea bargain?
Ilvija Puce, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for the report of Kazakhstan, asked what complaint mechanisms were in place for people in prison? Who received the complaints? How was anonymity ensured? How many investigations were initiated on the basis of those complaints and what were the outcomes? Who initially decided which complaints were related to torture, and subsequently transferred them to the Prosecutor’s office, and which were related to inhumane treatment and sent to police? How did the State act to prevent reprisals against those submitting complaints?
The delegation said following the events of January 2022, 238 people had died, and a full list of names, disaggregated by region, was available on the website of the Prosecutor’s office. Six of these people died as a result of torture. A sentence had been handed down for one of the deaths, where the perpetrator received six years in prison. Criminal charges had been raised on all of the complaints on torture. None of the people condemned for torture had seen their cases suspended. Medical workers were also being charged because they did not report the state of health of the person under arrest. Four crimes had been uncovered, and work was still underway regarding the others.
The delegation said persons serving a prison term had a right to submit complaints under the Criminal Procedural Code, in written form and through electronic documents. To ensure rights were met within the prison system, special electronic terminals were introduced which were connected through a protected government communications system. Currently, in 79 different prisons, 365 terminals were installed with another 243 planned to be installed before the end of the year. Prisoners could use these terminals to submit complaints directly to the centre, rather than through prison management, meaning the complaints could not be censored. Prisoners were able to check the status of complaints they had submitted. The terminals had been used to submit around 10,000 complaints.
Introducing the report, Igor Rogov, Chairman of the Human Rights Commission under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and head of delegation, said the Constitution of Kazakhstan specifically prohibited torture, cruel or inhumane treatment. A large-scale constitutional reform had been carried out in the State, and in 2022, the death penalty was completely abolished in the country. In 2023, the Constitutional Court began its activities, which significantly strengthened the mechanisms for protecting human rights. Another important step was the consolidation of the status of the Human Rights Ombudsman in the Constitution. The role of the Prosecutor was strengthened to undertake judicial actions relating to cases of torture. In 2018, specialised investigative courts were established. The State was committed to providing the highest level of training to law enforcement officers to ensure they followed rules and laws.
In closing remarks, Claude Heller, Committee Chairperson, thanked the delegation for their positive contributions to the dialogue and readiness to reply to all the questions which were put forward.
Mr. Rogov thanked the Committee and looked forward to their concluding observations, which were very helpful.
The delegation of Kazakhstan consisted of representatives from the Human Rights Commission; the Supreme Court; the Prosecutor General’s Office; the Ministry of Internal Affairs; the Ministry of Justice; the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection; the Ministry of Healthcare; the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Judicial Administration; the National Security Committee; and the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan to the United Nations Office at Geneva.
The Committee will issue the concluding observations on the report of Kazakhstan at the end of its seventy-sixth session on 12 May 2023. Those, and other documents relating to the Committee’s work, including reports submitted by States parties, will be available on the session’s webpage. Summaries of the public meetings of the Committee can be found here, and webcasts of the public meetings can be found here.
The Committee has before it the fourth periodic report of Kazakhstan (CAT/C/KAZ/4) .
Presentation of Report
IGOR ROGOV, Chairman of the Human Rights Commission under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and head of delegation, said the Constitution of Kazakhstan specifically prohibited torture, cruel or inhumane treatment. In 2001, Kazakhstan had felt no need to establish a specific law against torture as this was covered in the Criminal Court. However due to recommendations from the Committee, Kazakhstan had introduced an amendment to the Criminal Code. A large-scale constitutional reform had been carried out in the State, and in 2022, the death penalty was completely abolished in the country. In 2023, the Constitutional Court began its activities, which significantly strengthened the mechanisms for protecting human rights. For the first time, citizens could directly apply to the Constitutional Court with individual complaints. Another important step was the consolidation of the status of the Human Rights Ombudsman in the Constitution. Local offices of the Ombudsman’s office had opened and were running in the region.
The role of the Prosecutor was strengthened to undertake judicial actions relating to cases of torture. In 2018, specialised investigative courts were established. Judicial control over the legality of pre-trial proceedings was introduced. The Constitution included a paragraph which stated that the recognition of guilt could not serve as the only evidence for a crime; meaning a confession alone was not enough to find someone guilty. This had done away with the practice to extract a confession by illicit means. The State was committed to providing the highest level of training to law enforcement officers to ensure they followed rules and laws. An international conference was conducted, and Kazakhstan was selected to provide training to law enforcement colleagues from Europe. Kazakhstan would listen attentively to the recommendations from the Committee and would continue to work to uphold the rule of law.
BULAT BEKNAZAROVICH DEMBAYEV, Deputy Prosecutor General, said the January tragedy that had struck Kazakhstan was a great tragedy. Anti-terrorist actions had been taken and 33 people were arrested. Overall, 1,300 people were arrested in connection with the events and each arrest was checked with the Prosecutor. The operation that was the cause of the events, effectively a government coup, was carefully planned. The representatives of the National Security Committee and those involved had been sentenced to prison. Military facilities were also targeted. For the participation in the riots and unrest, a number of people had been arrested and a law on amnesty had been adopted. Those who committed torture or terrorist actions were not given amnesty. People who inflicted torture, regardless of their position, needed to be punished. It was difficult to investigate torture, however, when it was uncovered, punishment was handed down.
The President of Kazakhstan had urged the State to root out torture; these cases were now all investigated by the Prosecutor. It was now ensured that all allegations of torture were registered and investigated in a transparent manner. The work was designed to reach zero tolerance to torture. The tragic events of January had been dealt with at the government level. One of the main goals of the reform was to demonopolize the economy and ensure money was used to solve problems. There was a significant amount of fake news in Kazakhstan. The Committee should use only reliable information, and take into account genuine efforts to implement recommendations and uphold the law
Questions by Committee Experts
ANA RACU, Committee Vice Chairperson and Rapporteur for the report of Kazakhstan, positively highlighted the adoption of the law which introduced the definition of a "person acting in an official capacity" and prohibited conditional sentences for the acts of torture. Kazakhstan should be commended for this. Torture was criminalised in Kazakhstan in 2002 in the Criminal Code. Although the definition of torture in the Criminal Code was in line with the Convention definition, it lacked the word "severe" in the description. How would torture be distinguished from other kinds of ill-treatment that had been criminalised? The wording of the Convention against Torture as translated into Russian had led to a confusion over the application of the exclusion clause in relation to the definition of torture in the national legislation. Could the delegation comment on this?
In November 2022 a constitutional law on the Human Rights Commissioner was adopted, which consolidated the constitutional status of the Ombudsperson and expanded their capacity. What would be the impact of this law? Could information be provided on measures to improve the functioning of the national preventative mechanism, including in accordance with recommendations made by the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture? What specific budgetary or logistical resources had been allocated to the mechanism? How many recommendations related to the prevention of torture and protection of persons deprived of their liberty had been issued by the mechanism?
Since 2019, the mandate of the national preventive mechanism had undergone significant changes which had extended the mandate to all institutions that provided special social services for children; this was a progressive step made by the Government. On 29 December 2021, the President of Kazakhstan ratified the law removing the death penalty for all crimes stipulated in the Criminal Code and replacing it with life imprisonment. The State party should be commended for this important development.
An important topic of great social resonance was the events of January 2022. On 2 January, a sharp increase in liquid gas prices triggered peaceful protests in the western town of Zhanaozen. In the following days, the protest spread quickly across Kazakhstan, focusing on economic hardship. In some cities, including Almaty, peaceful protests were infiltrated by violent elements and escalated into violent unrest, which the authorities called an attempt to seize power. The security forces put down the unrest, which left 238 people dead, including 9 police and security officers. According to official information, nearly 10,000 people were detained in connection with the January events. According to non-governmental organizations, incidents of torture and inhuman treatment were unprecedented in scale and intensity, including against minors. There were numerous cases of denial of medical care, lack of access to a lawyer, lack of access to the outside world, and failure to inform the relatives of those detained of their fate and whereabouts.
How did the State party guarantee the independence of doctors and other medical staff treating persons deprived of their liberty? Could doctors bring medical reports of injuries suspected of being caused by torture directly to the attention of the Public Prosecutor on a confidential basis? Had the State party enacted a policy to ensure that each detainee’s medical status was documented at the outset of being placed in police detention? What procedure was in place to allow an inmate access to a medical professional of their choice? The Committee wanted more details about the Order of the Minister of Health of June 30, 2022. Did the doctors performing these examinations on admission to a pre-trial detention centre report to a specific health authority? Were there any specific registers for injuries or violent incidents? How many of such cases were reported during the reporting period?
Despite the regular public briefings by the Office of the Prosecutor General and the Ministry of Interior after the January events, information did not appear to be consistent, making it difficult to establish a comprehensive picture of the investigation of torture allegations and its results. Ms. Racu asked the delegation to update the Committee on the exact number of deaths in custody, and to provide information on the deaths of 238 individuals and on the measures introduced to bring to justice all those responsible for deaths, torture and ill treatment, restraint measures imposed on potential perpetrators, and protection measures ensured for victims. How many cases were dropped as a result of procedural agreements with defendants in the form of a plea bargain?
Could Kazakhstan provide updated disaggregated data on all complaints relating to torture and inhuman treatment related to the January 2022 events, as well as information on the number of criminal proceedings that were initiated, subsequent penalties imposed, and redress to victims? The Committee also requested disaggregated data relating to State agents disciplined for excessive force and communications provided to prisoners on their rights to report abuse? The Committee was hopeful that the investigation into allegations related to the January events would be impartial and effective.
What measures were taken by the State party to prevent violent incidents among prisoners, including self-injuries and suicides? What was Kazakhstan’s long-term strategy to tackle the inter-prisoner violence? Could the delegation elaborate on the progress in the implementation of the project “Supporting the Management of Violent Extremist Prisoners and the Prevention of Radicalisation to Violence in Prisons”, which seemed to be a pioneering initiative? Which categories of prisoners were subject to solitary confinement and for how long? Was solitary confinement still applicable to minors and how often?
Bullying, hazing, accidents, and psychological pressure were responsible for a large share of deaths and injuries among conscripts and professional soldiers. In June 2022, amid the news of suicides in the army, President Tokayev ordered the creation of a commission to investigate the causes of the incidents. Could more information be provided about the work of the commission, as well as on the investigation of cases of hazing, self-harm, suicides and deaths?
It was estimated that more than 400 women died annually in Kazakhstan from spousal violence. There were 49 crisis centres, 39 of which had shelters. The Ministry of Internal Affairs had instituted special inspectors for gender-based violence and reported it had 250 female sex crime inspectors on staff. Could an update on the work of inspectors for gender-based violence be provided? The Domestic Violence Prevention Act was updated in 2020. Since the implementation of the amendments, how many cases of violence against women had been reported? How many cases had been investigated and what was the outcome of these investigations? Could an update be provided on the measures taken to combat the abduction of young girls for marriage and on their effectiveness?
Since the consideration of the previous report, had the State party rejected any request for extradition by another State for an individual suspected of having committed an offence of torture, and started prosecution proceedings as a result? Since the conclusion of the last State party report, had Kazakhstan received any requests for extradition of an individual for the prosecution of the crime of torture?
ILVIJA PUCE, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for the report of Kazakhstan, asked about training. The culture of using torture or ill treatment as a tool by the law enforcement agencies needed to be changed. The national preventative mechanism had received a significant amount of training, which was positive. The turnover of members of the national preventative mechanism was high. How could it be ensured that new people coming in were still trained and knowledgeable about those issues? What training had been received by the prosecutors who investigated cases of torture? What training had been provided to police? What ongoing training was provided regarding the prevention of torture? Was training also extended to medical staff? Did they receive training on the Istanbul Protocol?
What complaint mechanism was in place for people in prison? Who received the complaints? How was anonymity ensured? Could information be provided on the complaint mechanism in psychiatric hospitals? How were people who were stripped of their legal capacity protected? How many investigations were initiated on the basis of those complaints and what were the outcomes? Who initially decided which complaints were related to torture, and subsequently transferred them to the Prosecutor’s office, and which were related to inhumane treatment and sent to police? How did the State act to prevent reprisals against those submitting complaints?
It was known that the prison infrastructure in Kazakhstan was quite old, and there was significant overcrowding. How would the State tackle this issue? What alternative and non-custodial measures were in place? The Committee was very concerned about the situation of access to medical care in closed institutions, particularly for persons with disabilities. What steps would be taken to improve this situation? What were the numbers of medical staff, compared to inmates in prisons? How many psychiatrists worked in prisons? The situation of women in prisons was also a serious concern, especially the prevalence of sexual abuse. Were investigations carried out in this regard and what were the outcomes? Could more information be provided about the situation of those sentenced to life in prison? The Committee was also concerned about the existing informal hierarchy in prisons. What was the cause of this? Was inadequate staff, training or infrastructure contributing?
Could the delegation inform the Committee about the non-refoulment principle in the State? People who were entering Kazakhstan illegally faced a criminal investigation and could be expelled from the country. How was this issue being tackled? How did the border services cooperate with immigration authorities if the person applied for asylum at the border? Could a follow up be provided on cases where the Committee had expressed its view, including on individual communications which had been submitted to the Committee? How did the State react to these conclusions and recommendations?
A Committee Expert asked about the number of deportations and the countries to which they had been deported? What were the plans to bring Kazakhstan’s legislation in line with the Convention to ensure the equal treatment of all asylum seekers and refugees without discrimination? Up to 2,000 stateless persons acquired Kazak nationality each year, which should be commended.
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation said legislation on torture was being brought into line with the Convention. Several factors were taken into account for cases of torture, including medical facts, and anyone in a position of authority to the victim. Liability applied to officials who sought to obtain a confession from somebody, or if evidence was gained through torture. Law enforcement officials were permitted to use force if necessary to restrain individuals which could lead to inflicting suffering.
There was a single registration system for pretrial investigations. The participants of the national preventative mechanism were independent in Kazakhstan. A report was provided on the result of every preventive visit which detailed the visit of the group. From 2014 to 2022, the Human Rights Ombudsman was an independent administrator, administrating their own budget which was around 120,000 dollars annually.
Officers were obliged to record their work by video to cover their activities during duty hours. The video badges, chest cams and other equipment were designed to record events in the vicinity, the acts of people who were detained and of the officers on duty. Video recorders were provided to officers to allow them to carry out their duties. All video and audio recorders were subject to a new protection system to minimise the risk of data loss. Disciplinary actions were currently being undertaken due to events concerning data loss.
One of the issues in investigating torture was “corporate solidarity”, and there had been a loss of data in association with the January events. There had now been joint instructions published so that not all data was able to be accessed. Sometimes in Kazakhstan, obsolete terms were used within the legislation, including the term “opening a case”. This could be the reason for discrepancies within several criminal cases. This information would be rechecked and confirmed.
The Constitutional Council was an active legal body which considered the law criminalising prisoners for self-harm to be non-constitutional. This was because any person had the right to dispose of their own life, and this therefore also applied to prisoners. Self-harm should be considered as a form of expression by prisoners. Therefore, criminal liability would jeopardise their freedom of expression. In the new code, there was new language and a new position, including that malicious intent had to be established.
The delegation said solitary confinement could be applied for up to four months; prior to 2021, this was up to six months. This was only applied to convicts who deserved this measure, due to their behaviour. If a prisoner committed a crime such as smashing a camera, they were put in solitary confinement for up to a month. The numbers of those placed in solitary confinement were slowly falling, and minors were not allowed to be placed in solitary confinement. The main causes of suicide in prison were long stretches of imprisonment, family situations, and psychological complaints. Creative events including poetry, drawing and prose competitions were organised for prisoners at risk of suicide.
The delegation said the measures adopted by the Government were aimed at creating a climate of zero tolerance for torture. The State had been undertaking sweeping reforms of the criminal law and since 2015 a new Criminal and Criminal Procedural Code had been enforced. The detection of any violence or complaints warranted an immediate investigation into allegations. Within three days there needed to be a response to such allegations, and a report drawn up. Since 2021, there had been a three-tiered level of criminal proceedings: the investigative bodies; the collection of evidence; and the submission of evidence. The punishment itself was overseen by the judges. The arrests of a suspect as well as explanations for reason of arrest, and access to a lawyer, were all guaranteed. The new Criminal Code ensured none of the parties to criminal proceedings could be subject to torture or cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment. Any evidence obtained through torture was deemed inadmissible. Without a court order, a suspected person could not be held for more than 48 hours.
Several legal amendments had been adopted which strengthened the role of lawyers. Defendants could request legal expertise and it was a requirement that lawyers be allowed to be acquainted with the case file. The number of troops who had committed suicide had fallen. In May 2021 Kazakhstan established a commission following the suicides of several service men. A step-by-step approach had been followed to ensure that servicemen were aware of the preventative measures in place, and several educational units had been established. New methods of psychological diagnosis had also been established. Regarding the “Save your Lives” programme, this encompassed all armed forces in the country and focused on preventing the loss of life in the armed forces. In all barracks there was psychological assistance, and close communication between sergeants, soldiers and leaders.
As preventive measures for domestic violence in Kazakhstan, there were 63 crisis centres and many of them had a shelter. These centres offered comprehensive assistance to victims of domestic violence and human trafficking. More than 300 individuals who needed assistance had turned to these shelters, and the hotline at the centres received more than 5,000 calls per year. Representatives of civil society recommended that the aggressors, as well as the victims should be reintegrated into social life. A pilot project would be carried out in the larger regions of the country. It was expected this would yield a reduction in cases of domestic violence and enable a swifter response system. Women who were victims of violence had the right to legal defence. A national commission had been created on women and family affairs.
Overall, when there was the kidnapping of a woman, which resulted in forced marriage, this was considered a criminal offence and the legislation saw a punishment of up to 12 years in prison. Seven cases of this nature had been referred to the courts this year. The overall share of these crimes took place in southern Kazakhstan, where a large portion of the population followed traditional rituals. Kidnapping brides was a genuine tradition in these areas. For each complaint received, a timely and comprehensive investigation was undertaken. A centre for training experts had been created on preventing human trafficking, and over 2,000 police officers had received training. Later this year, Kazakhstan would carry out training to police officers and border guards in the entire Central Asian region.
Up to 2021, many penitentiary buildings did not meet State requirements, and subsequently 26 remand jails had been closed, and 19 suspended; 11 new remand centres had been built and repairs across several others were being conducted. After 2028, there were plans to build six modern remand centres, which would ensure international standards in the conditions for prisoners. The number of prisoners had increased by 20 per cent because of recent amendments to the law. In instances where there was an overpopulation of convicts, they were transferred to prisons where there were less prisoners.
Under the Criminal Procedural Code, those condemned to prison terms for life were housed in special cells. Prisoners serving life terms were there for particularly grave crimes. They had the right to walk outside for one to two hours and had an allocated budget for food and basic necessities. Since 2018 the right to telephone calls had been allocated to convicts. Since 2021 convicts on life imprisonment had the right to seek work. Six convicts were currently working on a salary for sewing. Those on life sentences also had the right to work with psychiatrists and psychologists, who assessed the suicide risk of each convict. There had been work done with life prisoners which included their preparation for early release.
Persons serving a prison term had a right to submit complaints under the Criminal Procedural Code, in written form and through electronic documents. To ensure rights were met within the prison system, special electronic terminals were introduced which were connected through a protected government communications system. There was no connection to the internet meaning the terminals could not be used for criminal or fraud activity. Currently, in 79 different prisons, 365 terminals were installed with another 243 planned to be installed before the end of the year. Prisoners could use these terminals to submit complaints directly to the centre, rather than through prison management, meaning the complaints could not be censored. Prisoners were able to check the status of complaints they had submitted. The terminals had been used to submit around 10,000 complaints. Measures had been taken to eradicate the criminal subculture within prisons.
In July 2022, the medical services in prisons were transferred from correctional establishments to the public health system. Inmates had the right to receive qualified and timely diagnosis and preventive measures. Free medical services were provided as well as social security. Screening was mandatory for tuberculosis and HIV. Prisoners who arrived were inspected for bodily harm, and in cases this existed, a report was written up. Any traces of psychological or physical abuse were recorded. The electronic health system could only be accessed by workers from the public health services. There were five trainings provided to medical workers on this system and over 100 workers had been trained. Currently the overall number of medical workers who provided services to inmates amounted to more than 1,500. In 2019, Kazakhstan adopted a plan to improve the lives of persons with disabilities. There were now 52 medical services within the penitentiary system.
Since 1 January 2022, the responsibility for migrants and refugees had been transferred to the Ministry of Social Protection and activities were carried out with local governments. Work done with refugees was now in line with international standards. If a person had applied for refugee status, according to the law, when they crossed the State borders, they had the right to appeal to the border guards with a written petition to allow them to be granted refugee status. Over 900 petitions had been received, including from citizens of Ukraine, Afghanistan and the Russian Federation who were seeking asylum.
According to the law on refugees, asylum seekers and refugees needed to leave Kazakhstan on a voluntary basis with their families 30 days after their request had been denied. If they did not leave on a voluntary basis, extradition was carried out. Over the past year and a half there had only been one case of extradition from Kazakhstan. The delegation said that last year, the deaths of several minors had been uncovered, and they had been subject to bodily harm. Criminal liability was engaged for three hospital workers who were subsequently found guilty.
During the tragic events of January, more than 5,300 crimes were registered, including murder and participation in terrorist acts. Prison terms were handed down to less than 3,000 people, and due to subsequent amnesty law, many people were released. The courts reviewed nearly 10,000 cases on administrative liability, and just over 3,300 led to arrests, while 1,270 led to fines; 238 people had died, and a full list of names, disaggregated by region was available on the website of the Prosecutor’s office. Six of these people died as a result of torture. A sentence had been handed down for one of the deaths, where the perpetrator received six years in prison. Criminal charges had been raised on all of the complaints on torture. None of the people condemned for torture had seen their cases suspended.
The cases of the police officers who beat up protesters which led to their deaths were being investigated. Regarding the deaths of two victims, investigations had been carried out and would be referred to court. Officers were being indicted due to inflicting bodily harm on these people, however, the cause of death was being investigated. Medical workers were also being charged because they did not report the state of health of the person under arrest. They were being held to account for failing to fulfil their professional duties. Four crimes had been uncovered, and work was still underway regarding the others. Instructions had been developed in accordance with the Istanbul Protocol regarding the investigations and practices and methods for cases falling under the category of torture.
A large reform was carried out in the electoral system, and elections were held last March. Now any citizen could stand for election; previously they had needed to be a member of a political party. The reforms were aimed at further democratising Kazakhstan. The political will of the leaders was clear and the State was on its way to becoming a new society. Kazakhstan was working to respond to any case of violence to torture with efficiency, and to create systemic measures aimed at presenting these violations.
Questions by Committee Experts
ANA RACU, Vice Chairperson and Rapporteur for the report of Kazakhstan, said the Committee was hopeful that there was will from the Government to prosecute acts of torture and provide redress for the victims. Kazakhstan’s legislation had evolved significantly in recent years which was positive. How many complaints of torture were sent for so-called “checking”? How many were dismissed following this? What were the main obstacles in investigating torture complaints in relation to the January 2022 events? What were the specific numbers regarding those accused of abuse of power? Could information on the number of hazing, self-harm suicides and deaths within the army be provided? Did Kazakhstan plan to extend national preventative mechanism mandates to all places of detention, including the military barracks?
Could more information be received around inter-prisoner violence, including the number of violent incidents, self-harm cases and suicides? What were the proceedings in place for the investigation of violent incidents? Were there specific registries for injuries in pre-trial detention units? What were the results of reported cases of violence? Did Kazakhstan plan to investigate violations by medical professionals during the events of 2022?
Ms. Racu said the State had made significant progress in combatting trafficking, including through the anti-trafficking plan and the establishment of the compensation fund for victims. What was the progress in the identification and investigation of victims of trafficking? What shelters were in place for victims? What were the number of prosecutions for gender-based and domestic violence over the reporting period? How many investigations had there been into bride kidnapping? The Committee hoped the investigation into the January events and other violations would be impartial and effective.
ILVIJA PUCE, Committee Expert and Rapporteur for the report of Kazakhstan, asked if article 146 was explicitly applied during the state of emergency? How were victims of torture compensated? How many cases of compensation had there been and how much money had they received? Did they receive social and psychological services and aid? What were the other kinds of punishment for torture? What were the reasons that one fifth of the cases received another kind of punishment?
Responses by the Delegation
The delegation said cases of torture were immediately registered with the Prosecutor’s office and investigations were conducted. Torture was a serious crime with serious punishments. It was not possible to get a plea bargain or negotiate a suspended sentence. Figures on suicide, self-harm and the criminal hierarchy would be sent in writing. In 2022 there were 29 suicides among the special contingent of prisoners, and 18 in 2021. There was a log kept in remand centres for all cases of bodily harm.
Only the Ombudsman for Human Rights and the representatives in the region received a salary for their work. The Rights of Child Ombudsman worked on a voluntary basis, meaning obligations could not be imposed on them. The delegation said people who had changed their gender were provided with psycho-social services in their region. Social services had been provided to 168 victims of human trafficking. There was no specific crime of “bride kidnapping”; this fell under the umbrella of general kidnapping.
The delegation said 217 soldiers had died over recent years, and 56 of these deaths were the result of suicide. The goal of the victims’ fund was to provide preliminary assistance prior to the trial. The law stipulated payments to the victims. The activity of the fund had a positive impact on restoring the rights of victims at the initial stage of recovering from a crime.
CLAUDE HELLER, Committee Chairperson, thanked members of the delegation for their positive contributions to the dialogue and readiness to reply to all the questions which were put forward. He hoped the constructive relationship could be maintained and that the concluding observations would be beneficial to the State party.
IGOR ROGOV, Chairman of the Human Rights Commission under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and head of delegation, thanked the Committee and looked forward to the concluding observations, which were very helpful. The State would do its best to implement them and looked forward to further constructive cooperation.
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