Posted 2010/11/8

Kyrgyzstan: Human rights defender Azimjan Askarov beaten along with other defendants after an appeal hearing

Front Line is gravely concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of human rights defender Mr Azimjan Askarov who was beaten, along with other defendants after an appeal hearing at Nooken Regional Court on 5 November 2010.

Further Information

Mr Askarov is a prominent human rights defender and director of the human rights organisation “Vozdukh” (Air) based in Bazar Korgon, Jalalabad region of Kyrgyzstan.

On 5 November 2010 relatives of the policeman who was killed in ethnic clashes on 13 June 2010 in Bazar Korgon attacked the defendants as they were leaving the courthouse. Local police officers who were present at the court to protect the defendants as they exited, instead began to beat them with batons as the passed through a narrow corridor, and kicked those who fell to the ground.

The appeal hearing began in Tash-Kumyr, situated approximatively 100 km from Bazar Korgon but was relocated to Nooken on 4 November 2010 following a request from the family of the victim. During the trial which took place in Nooken, relatives of the victim systematically insulted and attacked the defendants and their lawyers in the courtroom. Independent observers attending the appeal noted that the atmosphere at the appeal hearing in Tash-Kumyr court was slightly improved from the initial trial hearing in Nooken.

During the appeal hearing at least two defendants alleged that torture was used during the investigation and detention at Bazar Korgon detention facility. One of the defendants said he confessed after being asphyxiated with a plastic bag while another confessed after being beaten for 17 hours.

On 5 November, the lawyers of beaten defendants lodged a request for a medical examination to be carried out on the detainees with Vice Prosecutor of the Bazar Korgon district Ms Jamila Torozhanova. The request however was refused on the basis that the beating took place in Nooken and not in Bazar Korgon.

A similar request was lodged with the Prosecutor's office in Nooken which was refused on the grounds that the detainees were not being held in Nooken but in Bazar Korgon.

To date, no medical examination has been carried out on the detainees. Despite the gravity of the allegations of torture, and the fact that the defendants' lawyers have consistently raised the issue that their clients are being ill-treated, the Kyrgyz authorities have failed to follow up with an adequate investigation.

Front Line is deeply concerned for the integrity of the defendants. On 3 November 2010 they did not receive any food and were not allowed to use the toilet at any stage during the day. Moreover, Front Line fears that the defendants' right to a fair trial is not being respected, a clear violation of international human rights law.

Front Line is also concerned that the court is willing to accept confessions which were allegedly extracted by torturing the defendants, a violation of the UN Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment to which Kyrgyzstan is a party.

For further information on this case please refer to a Front Line press release available at: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/13703