Kazakhstan failing to prevent torture of detainees: rights group

[JURIST] Kazakhstan's government is failing to curb torture [press release] by law enforcement officers, according a report [text, PDF] released Monday by Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website]. The report, which tracks Kazakhstan's progress in the area of human rights from the period of its adoption of the Convention Against Torture [text], is critical of several practices that seem to run counter to the goals of that convention. Under Kazakh law [AI report], all detentions must be registered within a three-hour time period in order to keep a suspect in pre-trial detention. AI claims that this law is rarely enforced, and most torture allegations arise from the practice of unacknowledged detentions. AI also expressed concern about the scorecard nature of assessing judges, which places pressure on judges to maintain a high conviction rate and makes them less likely to acquit or order greater investigation of allegations of torture. According to the report:


despite the good intentions shown by the measures noted above and the extensive education, reform and training programmes for law enforcement forces and the judiciary often run in conjunction and in cooperation with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international governmental organizations (IGOs), it has become evident that torture or other ill-treatment of individuals deprived of their liberty, whether formally detained or in de facto unacknowledged detention, continue to be routinely used.

The report concluded with a series of recommendations, including the formation of an independent agency to assess allegations of abuse at the hands of police.

Kazakhstan has come under increased scrutiny as the first former Soviet republic to chair the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) [official website], a role it assumed at the beginning of 2010. In February, Kazakh NGOs asked [submission, PDF] the UN Human Rights Council [official website] to address instances of torture and the use unlawful evidence obtained through torture during trial. In August, Reporters Without Borders [advocacy website] condemned a Kazakh high court decision upholding the conviction [JURIST report] of a journalist charged with publishing state secrets. In December, Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] said that the former Soviet nation is falling short [JURIST report] on reforms promised in advance of their assumption of the OSCE chairmanship.


 

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