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25 February 2020

Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan to review Azimjan Askarov’s case

Update: Appeal hearing of Azimjan Askarov adjourned

On 25 February 2020, the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan adjourned the hearing of Azimjan Askarov’s case until 6 April 2020 pending review of the additional appeal submitted by Askarov’s lawyer. The court hearing was observed by representatives of the OSCE and UN OHCHR, as well as a Front Line Defenders’ Protection Coordinator. Only 13 people were admitted to the small courtroom. Azimjan Askarov was not brought to court.


On 25 February 2020, the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan will review the case of Azimjan Askarov. The human rights defender, who is 69 years old, has been deprived of his liberty since 2010. The appeal hearing at the Supreme Court is Azimjan Askarov’s last chance for justice.

In September 2010, Azimjan Askarov was sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of “organising mass riots, instigating ethnic conflict and complicity in the murder of a policeman”. The investigation and the trial of the human rights defender were marred by numerous procedural and human rights violations. As a result of spending 10 years behind bars and enduring inhumane conditions and cruel treatment, his health has significantly deteriorated.

In March 2016, the UN Human Rights Committee found that, in its treatment of Azimjan Askarov, Kyrgyzstan had violated several articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Committee called for his immediate release. The review of Azimjan Askarov’s case became possible with the amendments to the Criminal Code of Kyrgyzstan which came into force in 2019. On 25 February 2020, the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan will hear the last appeal possible at the national level.

Front Line Defenders continues to call for the release of Azimjan Askarov in accordance with the UN Human Rights Committee’s decision which found that the Kyrgyz authorities had “arbitrarily detained, held in inhumane conditions, tortured and mistreated, and prevented [Askarov] from adequately preparing his trial defence.” Front Line Defenders believes that the criminal conviction of Azimjan Askarov is a result of his legitimate and peaceful human rights work, and continues to call on Kyrgyzstan to quash his conviction and immediately release the human rights defender.