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Kyrgyzstan Review, 10 years ago

[24.11.23] Kyrgyzstan: New Law Criminalises Torture

"This is a very timely law, but there needs to be a political will [on the part of the government] for its implementation," Emil Aliev, the deputy chairman of the opposition Ar-Namys party, told IRIN from the capital, Bishkek, on Monday, adding that this law existed only on paper. "We have a lot of laws - the law on protection of human rights and the constitution - but they are broken everywhere," he asserted, noting that many ordinary people did not even know about the new law.
Joldoshbek Buzurmankulov, the interior ministry's press secretary, strongly denied that there had been any cases of torture in the country. "There is not and hasn't been torture," he told IRIN from Bishkek, adding that the government expected this law to contribute to regulating relations between law-enforcement bodies and the civil population.
Earlier last week, human rights activists in the country called on the authorities to meet their international obligations on torture. "We hope the Kyrgyz government will have enough political will to abide by this law and by the convention against torture," they said in a joint statement. Kyrgyzstan signed the United Nations convention on torture in 1996.
Buzurmankulov added that the new law would facilitate the job of the law-enforcement bodies. He said there had been numerous examples over the last three to four years when a suspect would give evidence or admit guilt, but when the case was brought to court he would reportedly deny what he had said, claiming that he had acted under duress brought to bear on him by the police.
"Now, if a suspect claims that he gave testimony under torture, then it is possible to file a suit against the person who interrogated him. However, if he fails to prove that, he will be given one more punishment for slander," he said.
Kyrgyzstan, once considered the most democratic nation in ex-Soviet Central Asia, has been strongly criticized this year for its crackdown on opposition figures, human rights activists and independent journalists.
IRIN, November 24, 2003

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