[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday urged [press release] the government of Kyrgyzstan [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] to ensure the protection of human rights and the rule of law. Pillay mentioned that one of the obstacles the country has to overcome is corruption, which affects every aspect of society, undermining the “rule of law, the police, the judiciary, and trust in both local and national authorities.” She added that corruption has also a negative impact on ordinary citizens related to their social and economic rights. Pillay noted that the continued torture used by authorities and the failure of the government to address the problem should be resolved immediately. Officials at every level who use torture and inhumane punishment should be brought to justice and held responsible for their actions, according to Pillay. Another area Pillay mentioned during her press conference was discrimination, especially against minority groups. She urged the nation’s president to implement human rights laws and reforms and noted that diversity should and is the core element of economic development:
If the Government can demonstrate its commitment to implement a comprehensive plan of action on human rights and the rule of law—an action plan that has a real impact on the day-to-day work of key professions such as the police and the judiciary—I believe this would have great support from the whole UN system, as well as from the donor community. The goodwill of some Government authorities and the determination of civil society organizations, including the Ombudsman’s office, to bring about positive change make me hopeful that – despite all the daunting challenges—together we can map out a path that will make a real difference to the people of Kyrgyzstan, and act as a positive example to other countries in the region and beyond.
Pillay began [UNOG report] her mission to Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] when she arrived in Kyrgyzstan last Sunday. She is expected to start her visit to Kazakhstan on Wednesday where she will stay until Thursday.
Kyrgyzstan has been criticized in the past for its failure to protect its citizens’ human rights, especially the nation’s judicial system. In December of last year, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] criticized [JURIST report] the Kyrgyz Supreme Court for upholding 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] that resulted in more than 300 deaths and an additional 2,000 injuries. The rights group stated that the entire legal proceeding was marked with numerous flaws. The eight Uzbek nationals were convicted [JURIST report] in September 2010 on charges of murder, fomenting ethnic hatred, instigating violence and organizing public unrest. In June 2011 Amnesty International [advocacy website] joined in criticizing the nation’s judicial system for its lack of judicial progress. It was reported that most of legitimate evidence related to the June 2010 ethnic violence were ignored by the court while evidence obtained through torture are acknowledged. In May 2011 the Kyrgyzstan Inquiry Commission that was established [JURIST report] by Kyrgyz President Roza Otunbayeva [BBC backgrounder] discovered [JURIST report] that Kyrgyz security forces participated in the violence that killed hundreds of Uzbeks.