Kyrgyzstan begins selecting NPM members

Monday, February 18, 2013

Kyrgyzstan takes first steps to establish its National Preventive Mechanism, as the issue of torture is examined by the UN anti-discrimination expert body in Geneva.

A small, albeit important step forward was taken in Bishkek today, as the first phase of the process of selecting the members of the country’s NPM got underway. On 18 February a joint national and international recruitment panel began examining applications from civil society to the 11-person Coordination Council for the Prevention of Torture. The Coordination Council, along with the National Centre for Monitoring and Analysis, form the country’s NPM.

While the latter will undertake preventive work of the NPM, the Coordination Council has the vitally important role of spearheading the NPM’s advocacy and policy work and acting as its interface with the authorities. It is therefore imperative that independent, well-qualified and highly regarded civil society representatives are chosen for this task ahead. The final selection process will take place on 27 February 2013.   

Anti-discrimination body to raise issue of torture

The issue of torture in Kyrgyzstan is also expected to raise its ugly head in Geneva today and tomorrow, when the country comes under examination by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Among other matters, the UN Committee is likely to raise questions about the alleged use of torture and ill-treatment by police officers, particularly of ethnic Uzbeks in the context of the June 2010 ethnic violence in the south of the country. According to various reports, ethnic Uzbeks were tortured by police to elicit confessions revealing their supposed participation in the violence, which was later used in court to secure their convictions.

The high-profile plight of the imprisoned ethnic Uzbek human rights defender, Azimjan Askarov, is a very good case in point and one taken up by a range of international organisations, including the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. In the past Mr Askarov had also actively participated in various APT round-table events in Bishkek aimed at the ratification and implementation of the OPCAT torture prevention treaty.

In this same connection, the question of Kyrgyzstan’s NPM will also be broached by the UN Committee in Geneva today and tomorrow. It is hoped that by the time the Committee closes its overall session on 1 March, Kyrgyzstan will have successfully instituted one major part of its NPM.