Law does not violate human rights in detention conditions, says Kazakhstan Human Rights Commissioner

NUR-SULTAN – All issues of violation of detainees’ human rights: ill-treatment, absence of lawyers and psychological pressure will be thoroughly investigated and dealt with accordingly, says Human Rights Commissioner of Kazakhstan , Elvira Azimova, in her appeal to Kazakh citizens on January 11. 27.

Human Rights Commissioner of Kazakhstan, Elvira Azimova.

From 13 to 24 January, regional groups of the National Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture and Ill-treatment visited and carried out independent monitoring of 81 places of detention, including remand centers, temporary detention centers and holding cells in 16 regions of Kazakhstan.

At the end of the visits, 39 requests for rights violations have been received. In total, the prosecution received 109 complaints about unlawful, unwarranted investigative methods detention, disagreement with court decisions on administrative sanctions, lack of medical care and non-admission of lawyers. Following the assessment of the requests, 21 criminal cases were initiated.

During her visit to Atyrau, she spoke with residents detained in a sports center used as a place of temporary detention. The Atyrau Sports Center has come to public attention due to allegations of torture and unlawful beatings of inmates posted on social media platforms and in the media.

“Citizens who were detained in this room have reported beatings, ill-treatment and other degrading acts and said they were coerced into signing court documents under pressure, and were denied access to lawyers, clean water and food, medical care related to their injuries, Azimova said.

The investigation into this case began under the direct control of the Internal Security Service of the Ministry of the Interior. Azimova asked the attorney general’s office to review all complaints about the matter, including social media posts and anonymous posts, and to use video recordings of law enforcement premises if necessary.

“We must remember that the law does not abolish the requirements of respect for human rights in the conditions of detention,” she added. Azimova pointed out that “all evidence obtained under duress is invalid”.

Complaints about the poor quality of legal services will also be handled according to Azimova. She said courts and investigators should take into account that many citizens did not have access to information about their lawyers and contact details.

The protection of witnesses in criminal cases is another issue that should not be overlooked. “We must eliminate harassment and pressure on citizens who have decided to give statements to the media and to the prosecutor’s office,” Azimova said.

Azimova also urged prosecutors to expedite the process of reviewing detention orders for citizens whose validity of detention is in doubt, those who need constant monitoring and treatment due to injuries, chronic diseases and women with young children.

“There were two women in Kyzylorda remand center, one had a breastfed baby and the other had a four-year-old child. Based on our appeal, the prosecutor’s office changed the sentence and the women are now at home with their children,” Azimova said.

According to her, timely medical treatment should also be provided to all imprisoned citizens. “This is not just a requirement of national law. This is a requirement of the United Nations regarding the detention of prisoners,” she said.

As of January 25, 63 arrested citizens had suffered gunshot wounds. Twenty-nine of them have been sent to hospitals for treatment, 12 are in the medical section of the isolation ward. The remaining 29 people are under outpatient treatment and have been regularly visited by civilian doctors.

Replacing a fine with a warning should be considered for socially vulnerable categories of citizens, such as pensioners, unemployed and people with disabilities, Azimova said.

She also suggested considering lenient penalties for citizens involved in criminal charges related to mass riots for a first offense. “I ask to take into account not only the seriousness of their actions, but also their character and their sincere repentance,” she said.

Alternative sentences for these detainees could include agreements not to leave the place of residence, house arrest and personal guarantees.

All measures to guarantee human rights aim to establish a standard around peaceful assembly. Azimova drew attention to the fact that unresolved socio-economic and political issues were the reason for mass gatherings in the country, as President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev stated in his January statement Majilis (a chamber bass of Parliament).

“The participation in mass gatherings of many citizens was dictated by the desire to publicly express their opinion on the situation. However, such a measure does not justify those who have used violence, weapons and deliberate attacks. »

“It is necessary to include all procedural mechanisms, taking into account a fact recognized by the State: that peaceful assemblies took place before the riots”, she added.

As of January 25, 9,257 administrative cases were under consideration related to the January events, 4,584 of them were assessed without further sanction – people received a warning from the court.

Addressing the outlook, Azimova said that “with civil society and lawyers, we need to start a lot of work to discuss the problematic issues we have encountered.”

“They include the issues of strengthening the rapid response to mass riots, improving legislation and practice in terms of humanitarian actions in a state of emergency with the participation of citizens and non-governmental organizations, as well as the provision of free legal, social and psychological assistance during these periods, ensuring the safety of civilians and strengthening guarantees for the protection of the rights of citizens who find themselves implicated in criminal proceedings”.

This is the Commissioner’s second statement on the human rights situation in relation to the January events. The first statement was made on January 13 following his visit to 34 detention centers in 11 regions with representatives of civil society and groups from the National Preventive Mechanism (against torture).

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