Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Thursday criticized [press release] the Kyrgyz Supreme Court for upholding a guilty verdict in a trial it claims was marred by allegations of torture, violence and threats. In its ruling on December 20, the Kyrgyz Supreme Court upheld a verdict against eight ethnic Uzbeks who were found guilty of killing a policeman and injuring several other officers during mass disturbances in the city of Bazar-Kurgan in June 2010 [Guardian backgrounder]. The eight Uzbek nationals were convicted in September 2010 [JURIST report] on charges including inciting ethnic hatred and complicity in murder. Seven of the defendants were sentenced to life and their sentences remain unchanged. The Kyrgyz Supreme Court reduced the 20-year sentence of the eighth defendant to 11 years. The defendants allege they were tortured while in custody and that their families were threatened. HRW criticized the ruling, arguing that the court should have sent the "case back for re-trial and instructed the prosecutorial authorities to investigate all allegations of torture, ill-treatment, and other violations of Kyrgyz and international law in this case."
The Kyrgyz judicial system has been criticized by rights groups, including HRW, related to the treatment of detainees following the violence of June 2010. In June 2011 HRW and Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] criticized [HRW report; AI report] Kyrgyzstan's lack of judicial progress, marking the one-year anniversary of the June 2010 ethnic violence that resulted in more than 300 deaths and 2,000 injuries. Both reports alleged [HRW press release] that investigations have been conducted through torture and that typically, only confessions given through torture have been recognized as evidence while other, legitimate evidence has been ignored. Earlier this year, the US Department of State (DOS) [official website] also criticized Kyrgyzstan [JURIST report] in its 2010 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices [materials], stating Kyrgyzstan [materials] still faced significant rights issues and ethnic violence despite the overthrow of an authoritarian government and the passage of a new constitution [JURIST reports]. In November 2010 a court in Kyrgyzstan sentenced 19 ethnic Uzbeks [JURIST report] for their involvement in the June 2010 ethnic violence. In July of last year the Kyrgyz government announced that it had opened more than 1,000 criminal cases [JURIST report] stemming from the violence, and that 106 individuals had been detained, with 97 in custody.