Our Ref. 39
29 April 2020
Mr. G.D. Nurdauletov
General Prosecutor of the Republic of Kazakhstan
The Kazakhstan NGOs Coalition Against Torture has received a complaint regarding a situation that has arisen around the Dungans who reside in the Kordai district. Regretfully, we have been advised that the practice of people being arrested and torture being used against them by the law enforcement officers still continues.
Based on the information in the complaint, the detained individuals are subjected to sophisticated torture, for instance by putting plastic bags over their heads; people are tortured by suffocation using hands, or beaten with sticks. Arrests, searches and interrogations of the families of those detained individuals have been a continued practice veiled as law-prescribed activities—however according to the accounts of the detained people, all those actions are unlawful.
We also have been informed that the authorities continue to conduct searches in the residential areas of Bular Batyr and Sortobe villages, based on warrants that judges were issuing without sufficient substantiation, and people, among them elderly, being subjected to detentions. The interrogations are carried out at night, without an advocate in attendance, for up to 14 hours at a time, without breaks. According to the complaint, the interrogations with simultaneous torture are being conducted by groups of 5-8 investigators; in most cases, when people are detained, no document are produced to them, for instance police certificates.
We have been informed that the detained individuals are subjected to moral and psychological pressure, are forced to confess to crimes they have not committed. One of those people is Aydir Masanov, who was arrested early in the morning, with no official papers presented to him, handcuffed and, once delivered to the Kordai district police station, subjected to a beating and intimidation. He was being forced to confess to a murder of a resident of Kasyk village, and threatened to be put in prison for a long time. Mr. Masanov was beaten by a group of five police officers, and was released only at 10 P.M, still being threatened not to tell anyone about the beatings and torture.
The Coalition is concerned that such acts still continue to occur to this day; we have learned from the complaint that the investigators have been searching for suspects in the murder of Mr. Abdukerim Darkhan.
At present, namely on 28 April 2020, a search has been underway since 12 P.M. in the house of Seishanlo Dvumar, a resident of Bular Batyr village. The relatives of the detained individuals are terrified, with one female resident having a sudden bout of stress and fainting due to a high pressure over the concerns for her husband’s arrest. She was lucky to have survived, as opposed to Mrs. Tsunder Khuzova who had died over the fears and concerns for her son.
Based on the foregoing, the Kazakhstan NGO Coalition Against Torture urges you to sanction a prompt, impartial and effective inquiry into this high-profile case and, should any violations of the law be found to have been committed by the law enforcement officers, have a criminal case registered in the Unified Register of Pre-Trial Investigations into the responsible police officers, under Article 146 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
We urge you that particular attention should be paid to recording all bodily injuries inflicted on the detained individuals.
Moreover, the Coalition draws your attention that when the pre-trial investigation was being conducted, the law-prescribed “METHODOLOGY GUIDELINES on criminal investigations involving torture based on the Istanbul Protocol standards,” which have been adopted by the Law Enforcement Academy under the General Prosecutor’s Office, were not followed as a matter of mandatory process. The Istanbul Protocol requires that a state must ensure effective investigations into complaints and reports of torture and cruel treatment, and inform all interested stakeholders of any and all investigative and procedural actions.
In addition, over the course of an investigation the victim(s) and suspect(s) must be subjected to a forensic psychological examination to establish their individual perceptions and assessment of events that take place during the investigation, and find out if they have any proclivity to lying, fabricating stories, or projecting false memories. A forensic medical examination, a combined psychological and psychiatric examination, or other examination, must be carried out to establish whether the victim(s) has (have) suffered any physical or moral damage.
Based on the foregoing, guided by Articles 14 and 17 of the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Article 12 of the United Nations Convention against Torture, the Istanbul Protocol, and Articles 24 and 109 of the Criminal Procedural Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, we request that:
- any violations of the right to freedom from torture committed against the above-mentioned individuals and their law-protected interests, be rectified;
- an effective criminal investigation be carried out, with all individuals who had committed the violations being held criminally responsible.
Moreover, the Coalition draws your attention that it will present the information on the situation in Kordai to the United Nations Special Rapporteur against Torture.
The Coalition also reminds you that Kazakhstan is soon scheduled to report to the UNHRC and the United Nations Committee against Torture.
The Coalition considers it necessary to remind you that the UN Subcommittee against Torture issued its recommendations on 25 March 2020, which Kazakhstan must comply with, as a country that has made the relevant commitments under the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT) and the Optional Protocol thereto.
Coordinator of the Kazakhstan NGO Coalition against Torture,
Deputy Director, Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law,
Member of the Expert Council of the Commission on Human Rights under the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan,
Member of the Expert Council under the Human Rights Commissioner of the Republic of Kazakhstan,
Member of the Coordinating Council of the NPM under the Human Rights Commissioner of the Republic of Kazakhstan,
Member of the Working Group on the review of facts of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment under the Human Rights Commissioner of the Republic of Kazakhstan,
Member of the Coordinating Council under the Administration of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the development of recommendations for Kazakhstan human rights reports