Action plan to combat torture in Kyrgyzstan

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

For the second time in less than six months the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Mr. Juan Méndez will return to Kyrgyzstan. He will open up a discussion on the highly sensitive issue of torture and the steps Kyrgyzstan should immediately take to ensure that its long-awaited demise becomes a reality. These pressing questions will dominate a high-profile conference on the subject being co-organized by the APT in Bishkek on 21 May.  

In his highly critical report of the December 2011 fact-finding visit to the country Mr Méndez described torture and ill-treatment as widespread.

During the visit the United Nations expert encountered "multiple allegations of torture that shared the same pattern", including asphyxiation with plastic bags and gas masks, punches and beatings with truncheons, the application of electric shock, the introduction of foreign objects into the anus, or the threat of rape. Persons in police and pre-trial detention were said to be especially vulnerable.

On 21 May the APT and its partners (see below) will co-sponsor a one-day high-level conference to discuss the multiple recommendations found in this report. A draft action plan to combat torture using these recommendations has recently been drawn up by national actors. This will form the basis of the day’s discussion. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture will address this important gathering, which will be one of the largest ever to have taken place in Kyrgyzstan on the subject of torture.

APT Secretary General Mark Thomson stressed that if it really so desires, the Kyrgyz government can swiftly eradicate the blight of torture and ill-treatment from its landscape.

“In the form of Mr Méndez’ report and the emerging draft action plan, it is clear to all what now must be done. Kyrgyzstan should act on these key documents without delay and make Kyrgyzstan a rising example of good practice to others in Central Asia”, he said.

In addition to Mr Méndez, a member of the United Nations Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture will also participate in the discussions. This body is also set to undertake a fact-finding mission to Kyrgyzstan later in the year.  

The visit by Mr Méndez to Kyrgyzstan will take place hot on the heels of a week-long fact-finding mission to neighbouring Tajikistan.

The co-sponsors of the conference include (alphabetically): APT, European Union, Independent Human Rights Group, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Central Asia Regional Office, Open Society Foundations, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Centre in Bishkek, Penal Reform International, UN Office on Drugs and Crime and Voice of Freedom NGO coalition. This project is funded by the Open Society Institute as part of a two-year three-country torture-prevention project. The project covers Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

For more information please contact Matti Pringle: