Open Letter to the President of Kyrgyzstan Roza Otunbaeva

16/06/2011
Press release
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Dear President Otunbaeva,

Exactly one year after the tragic events which occured in the South of Kyrgyzstan, FIDH and its member organisations Citizen against Corruption (CAC), Kylym Shamy and Legal Clinic Adilet, call your attention to a number of issues of particular concern regarding the current human rights situation in the Kyrgyz Republic. Six months ago, FIDH President Souhayr Belhassen visited Kyrgyzstan and raised these concerns. The situation has not changed ever since.

First, the need to establish the truth about rights violations in the aftermath of the June 2010 interethnic conflict in southern Kyrgyzstan is still high on the agenda. Ensuring impartial investigations and an effective justice system in order to put an end to impunity is the only way to create a real basis for reconstruction and reconciliation. This has, one year after the events, unfortunately not has been done yet. In this way, it is essential to follow-up on the recommendations issued by the international investigation commission, which are crucial milestones for a legitimate reconstruction and reconciliation work on the part of the authorities.

There is an urgent need to address the shortcomings within the justice system, namely the non respect of the rule of law in prosecuting the alleged perpetrators of the violences and of ill treatment by the police, torture in detention. The impunity prevailing in such cases, and the denial of the right to a fair trial to many individuals in the South of the country seriously hampers the chances of Kyrgyzstan to find its way towards stability.

Kyrgyz authorities should fully associate civil society in the reconstruction and réconciliation work, and particularly to protect lawyers and human rights defenders, who have repeatedly, including in these last weeks, suffered diffamation in the media and accused to be ennemies of Kyrgyzstan, which puts a threat to their work. Moreover, Azimjan Askarov, human rights defender who was investigating the June violences in the South of the country, who was condemned on September 15, 2010 to life imprisonment after a biased trial, although innocence has been claimed by many organisations, including the investigation commission of the ombudsman of Kyrgyzstan.

Investigation commissions on June 2010 events : a thourough implementation of the recommendations is needed

FIDH and its member organisations welcomed the publication of the report of the internatinoal investigation commission (Kyrgyzstan Investigation Commission, KIC) in May 2011. [1]

The implementation of KIC recommendations on conflict prevention and reconciliation, in particular on public safety and security, and on accountability is crucial. It should be central in the mandate of the national commission of implementation which the Kyrgyz goverment announced.

Following the critical comments from the government of Kyrgyzstan on this report, our organisations would like to draw your attention to the fact that it is essential to keep civil society informed of the works and debates of the special Commission for the implementation and monitoring of the discharge of recommendations of the KIC which was mentionned in point 94 of the government’s answers. Clarification should be given about the Commission’s mandate and of the recommendations that are going to be implemented, considering the fact that many recommendations differ between national and international commissions, which had different analysis of the situation.

As far as investigation is concerned, a major issue still needs to be thrown light upon : the responsibility of those who let hundreds of weapons disappear in the South of the country should be assessed urgently through an independent, impartial investigation and the responsible should be brought to justice.

FIDH and its partner organisations regret the fact that the National Commission, in its report published in January 2011, as well as the investigation commissions of the Kyrgyz ombudsman (in its report of January 2011) and of Parliament (in its report of June 2011) provided an ethnically biased analysis, putting the responsibility of the violence on the Uzbek minority, and failing to fully address the human rights violations that occurred during the June events and their aftermath and certainly did not pave the way for national reconciliation and justice.

We also regret the lack of reaction of the Kyrgyz authorities, who did not publicly react after the Kirghiz parliament declared the head of the KIC Kimmo Kiljunen as « persona non grata » on May 26, 2011 as the deputies judged the international investigation commisison’s report to be partial. The reaffirmation of the government’s support of the KIC is central for the legitimacy of the reconstruction and reconciliation policies of the Kyrgyz government.

Fight against impunity : a still extremely weak rule of law

Most importantly, the KIC qualified some of the crimes committed during certain attacks against the mahallas in Osh on 11, 12 and 13 June as crimes against humanity. This includes murder, rape, other forms of sexual violence, physical violence (as an other inhumane act) and persecution against an identifiable group on ethnic grounds. Those crimes must be investigated and brought to justice in priority and special judicial mechanisms must be put into force according to the gravity of the accusation.

Ethnically orientated human rights violations and crimes have persisted in the aftermath of June 2010 violence, up to 2011, although at the lesser scale. Among them, our partner organisations repeatedly denounced the rape and pressure against women of uzbek orgin in the South of the country, who barely have been able to lodge complaints, even less have justice done. FIDH and its partner organisations also repeatedly denounced many cases of ill treatment and torture in detention: the lack of investigation on those cases is very alarming, not to mention the fact that the persons responsible are seldom brought to justice. In its report, KIC particularly points out the fact that in the trials in the aftermath of June 2010 inter-ethnic clashes, 74% of the victims where of Uzbek origin, however more than 85 % of the individual condemned for the violence where of Uzbek origin.

FIDH welcomes the efforts that have been made lately to reform the prison system and to conform with international standards regarding conditions of detention, and recall that these reforms must be completed successfully and efficiently within the given time (2015).

The justice system not only failed to investigate on the cases of ill-treatment and torture by officials and to judge their perpatrators. Many victims of such human rights violates where condemned on what appears to be fabricated charges, with evidences collected under torture. FIDH member organisation Citizen against Corruption (CAC) compiled many cases, for example:

Pahridin Ashirov, born in 1989 and his father Rakhmatillo Ashirov were detained by heavily armed police officers on June 20, 2010 and brought to Osh police department. After Rakhmatillo Ashirov heard his son screaming in the other room, a police officer informed him that his son had confessed to the murder of police chief of Nariman police department. However, witnesses claim that Ashirov Pahriddin was in a completely different place at the time of the crime. 

Pahriddin Ashirov, who was repeatedly subjected to torture, was also charged with participation in mass riots and participation in the murder of Chief of Karasu district police. Despite the absence of evidence of guilt except for confessions obtained under torture, the Karasu district court under chairing Judge B. Usubaliev sentenced him on October 29, 2010 sentenced Fahridin Rakmatillaevich Ashirov to life imprisonment with confiscation of property. Afterwards, the trial in appeal of Osh regional court diminished the verdict to 25 years’ imprisonment. An appeal to the supreme court is being prepared.

On July 2, 2010 at 6:00 AM the police captured from his home Nematillo Kasymov, without even letting him time to dress up. Officers returned at 9 am and conducted an unsanctioned search, and planted bullets in the victim’s coat. Nobody witnessed the scene.
Nematillo Kasymov was repeatedly tortured and was forced to pay a large bribe.
On December 14 Osh city court ruled to sentence Nematillo Kasymov to life imprisonment.
Although the defense sent an appeal to the Osh regional court, no date of proceeding has so far been given.

Finally, our organisations wish once again to draw your attention to the well-known case of Azimjan Askarov, human rights defender of Uzbek origin who had been documenting police ill-treatment of detainees and monitoring the human rights situation in the province of Jalal-Abad, who was condemned to life imprisonment on September 15, 2010 for having attacked police officers causing the death of one of them after being denied the right to a fair trial. His case has been suspended two times by the Supreme Court, first on February 8 until April 12, then sine die on April 7. In December 2010, as FIDH President Souhayr Belhassen was about to visit him in prison, Kyrgyzstan ombudsman M. Akun declared that his investigation commission had clearly reached the conclusion that Mr. Askarov was innocent of the crime he had been condemned for.

FIDH had already denounced [2] the fact that on November 3 and 4, 2010, during the hearings in the trial in appeal against Mr. Askarov held at Tash Kumyr City Court in Nooken, the defendants were reportedly discriminated against by the judge under ethnic grounds, who repeated some of the discriminatory words formulated in the room by the relatives of the victims. Furthermore, the principles of equality of arms and right of presumption of innocence were not respected.

It is also alleged that Mr Askarov was reportedly tortured and beaten during his interrogation by the police, and forced to sign false evidence, in violation of Article 15 of the UN Convention Against Torture to which Kyrgyzstan acceded on September 5, 1997, and which provides that “any statement which is established to have been made as a result of torture shall not be invoked as evidence in any proceedings, except against a person accused of torture as evidence that the statement was made”.

The second suspension sine die of Mr Askarov’s appeal by the Supreme Court on April 7, 2011, on the grounds of a national investigation of detention conditions, sends a very negative message to the international community on the will to reestablish the fairness of the Kyrgyz justice.

FIDH and its partner organisation call Kyrgyz authorities to:

- Open a new, impartial investigation on Askarov’s case and announce a new date for the resuming of his trial;

- Implement the recommendations of the international investigation commission and set an efficient monitoring mechanism in this view;

- Clarify the mandate of the Commission for the monitoring and implementation of KIC’s recommendations;

- Prosecute the persons responsible for the most serious crimes committed in relation with June 2010 events;

- Implement the rights of victims to justice in an independent and fair manner;
- Provide basic urgent help to victims, in accordance with Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power (UN Resolution 40/34, 29/11/1985) ;

- Carry an impartial review of the verdicts that were issued in connection with June 2010 in order to identify violations of the right to a fair trial, and cases of ill-treatment and torture and insure that these cases are reopened and that the rule of law is fully respected;

- Investigate on the allegations of torture and ill-treatment by law-enforcement officials and bring the responsible to justice;

- Ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court and amend the Kyrgyz Criminal Code so that there is no prescription concerning crimes against humanity, genocide and war crimes;

- Investigate the crimes that are considered as crimes against humanity by the KIC and violations of international human right law in relation with June violence and bring their perpetrators to justice;

- Guarantee independent investigation of sexual violence and bring their perpetrators to justice;

- Monitor conditions of detentions and insure that they are in compliance with Kyrgyzstan’s international obligations;

- Secure weapons so that they do not fall again into the hands of the population and establish the responsibility of those who let them disappear from their storage in June 2010 through an independent, impartial investigation and judge them in a fair and equitable way;

- Guarantee the respect and protection of human rights defenders and lawyers involved in these cases;

- Insure that measures are taken to fight against discrimination, in all the spheres of public and political life.

The international community, to:
- Endorse the conclusions of the KIC report;
- Set a monitoring mechanism of the implementation of the KIC’s recommendations by Kyrgyz authorities;
- Assist Kyrgyz authorities in the training of competent, independent, and impartial justice and investigation professionals of balanced ethnic origins in order to guarantee the rule of law.

Thanking you for your attention, we remain at your disposal to provide any additional information.

Sincerely,

Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President

Tolekan Ismailova, Director, Citizen against Corruption (CAC)

Aziza Abdirasulova, Director, Kylym Shamy

Cholpon Djakupova, Director, Legal Clinic Adilet

Copy to the Speaker of the Kyrgyz Parliament Akhmatbek Keldibekov


One year after the dreadful ethnic clashes in southern Kyrgyzstan: see the retrospective in pictures :

http://www.fidh.org/One-year-after-the-dreadful-ethnic-clashes-in

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