UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay [official website] Tuesday issued a warning [press release] about ongoing human rights violations in Kyrgyzstan following the recent ethnic violence [Guardian backgrounder] in the country. According to Pillay, security forces in the southern part of the country have been arbitrarily detaining large numbers of Uzbeks in violation of both Kyrgz and international laws. Pillay cited cases of torture and intimidation leading to an "increasing climate of fear" within the country, including reports of repeated beatings, detainees being forced to confess to crimes they did not commit and detainees being forced to pay bribes in order to be released. She also noted reports of security forces attempting to influence victims seeking medical attention, causing doctors to refuse treatment to victims of torture. Pillay emphasized the importance of holding those responsible for the violations accountable stating that, "accountability for past crimes and redoubled efforts at fighting impunity, while respecting the rights of all in Kyrgyzstan, are necessary to ensure protection, respect for the rule of law and to avoid a repeat of ethnic violence." She also noted the need for an independent investigation into the ethnic violence.
Last week, Kyrgyz interim President Roza Otunbayeva [Telegraph profile] established a commission [JURIST report] to investigate the recent ethnic violence against the country's Uzbek population. The commission is comprised of 30 former government officials [VOR report], human rights activists and professors, headed by former parliament speaker Abdygany Erkebayev. It will consult with government and international experts and present its findings [AP report] on the causes and repercussions of the violence in September. Earlier this month, the Kyrgyz government announced that it has opened more than 1,000 criminal cases [JURIST report] stemming from the recent violence. Regional officials in Osh, an area in southern Kyrgyzstan, announced that 106 individuals had already been detained [ITAR-TASS report]. The violence resulted from a clash between the Kyrgyz majority and the Uzbek minority and official estimates place the death toll at 309, with an additional 2,000 reportedly injured. Property damage estimates exceed $71 million.