Full statistics have never been made public, and official data remains ‘selective and partially contradictory.
On May 2nd and 3rd in Geneva, the UN Committee Against Torture (CAT) were presented with the latest report regarding the presence of torture in Kazakhstan. The Committee subsequently demanded that Kazakhstani authorities disclose the names, circumstances of death, and other specific data about the victims of the January 2022 events. The CAT further insisted that all statistics regarding the use of torture and the state’s investigations into torture are made public, ‘Radio Azattyk’ reports. The exact number of complaints of torture, as well as the number of investigations launched into such allegations, is still unknown.
Anna Raku, a representative of the UN Committee Against Torture, noted that the published official list of 238 people who died during the January events does not contain information about the time, place, and circumstances of their deaths, nor does it publish the victims’ full names and ages. Raku also pointed out discrepancies in the data, which were presented earlier this year by Kazakhstan’s Anti-Corruption Agency and the General Prosecutor’s Office; both administrative bodies reported their investigations to parliament. However, some reports, according to Raku, include information which ‘appears inconsistent, making it difficult to establish a full picture of the allegations of torture and the consequences of those allegations.’
‘It remains unclear how many allegations of torture were received by the authorities during the January events and how many complaints have been investigated criminally and how many have been prosecuted,’ Raku added.
In addition, the UN CAT called attention to the backlog of investigations into torture cases. Raku also asked that the members of the delegation update the CAT on the number of deaths which occurred in custody, the circumstances surrounding the 238 deaths, and the steps taken to hold those responsible to accountable. The UN Committee representative also asked the Kazakh delegation to report on the number cases that were dropped as a result plea bargains as well as the number of criminal cases, connected to the January events, that have also been dropped.
Meanwhile, the Kazakhstani delegation answered some of the CAT’s questions by repeating previously provided the official information, while some questions were not answered at all. The deputy prosecutor general of Kazakhstan, Bulat Dembayev, explained that ‘corporate solidarity’ has caused ‘foot-dragging’ in investigating the cases of torture. In addition, according to Dembayev, many of those implicated were wearing masks and/or video surveillance tapes had been destroyed, in an obvious move to avoid criminal prosecution for torture. Regarding the discrepancy in the figures between the different investigating authorities, the representatives of the prosecutor’s office explained that the discrepancy occurred when the cases were merged into one proceeding.
The UN Committee is expected to submit its final observations this month. According to the current practice, in the absence of an oral response, the State must send written answers to all questions posed.