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Information statement


On 24 February 2017, a number of mass media published a press release issued by the Almaty city prosecutor’s office jointly with the Committee of the Penal Enforcement System of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, to the effect that reportedly based on the results of an inspection conducted by these two bodies, the following was ascertained:
– information on the pressure and threats to life of the arrested Zhanbolat Mamai was proved t be untrue;
– Mr. Mamai has explained, both verbally and in writing, that he has no issues with either the administration of the pre-trial detention unit or other detained persons with whom he is sharing the cell;
– a medical officer of the pre-trial detention unit recorded no injuries on Mr. Mamai’s body, and Mr. Mamai himself has refused to undergo a medical check-up;
– in order to defuse the hype around his situation, Mr. Mamai has been transferred to a general-purpose cell at the same detention unit.

The same narrative was reiterated in a different message by Minister of Information and Communication D. Abaev.

Moreover, the press release makes a reference to criminal liability for dissemination of false information as per Article 242-1 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan which, it appears, concerns the statements made by Zh. Balgabaeva, Mr. Mamai’s attorney, I. Imanbai, Mr. Mamai’s wife and deputy editor of the Tribuna. Sayasi Kalam newspaper, and the Committee for the defence of journalist and public figure Zh. Mamai.

In view of this, we feel it is well prompted to offer a chronology of events and, once again, confirm the information that was contained in our verbal and written statements.

1. Zh. Mamai, who has never been criminally convicted before, who has the status of a suspect and is being kept at Facility LA 155/18 (a pre-trial detention unit), was at the end of last week unlawfully relocated to cell N197 where persons who have been criminally convicted before are held.

2. On 21 February 2017, Mr. Mamai informed his attorney that he had been beaten in the cell and subjected to psychological pressure, of which he personally wrote a statement addressed to his attorney. Any interested party may familiarize themselves with the text of his hand-written statement.

3. On the same day, 21 February 2017, at 12:55 Mr. Mamai’s attorney prepared an application addressed to the administration of the facility, which was accompanied with Mr. Mamai’s statement, requesting a transfer to a safer place, which was filed with the registry office of Facility LA-155/18.

4. On the same day, calls from a mobile phone from the same cell were made to Mr. Mamai’s wife I. Imanbai, demanding a payment of 200,000 tenge. Those phone calls were witnessed by human rights defender E. Zhovtis and journalist S. Duvanov, because Ms. Imanbai was at the office of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law at the time the phone calls were made. The way Mr. Mamai’s sounded on the phone call unequivocally confirmed he was under pressure. Mr. Imanbai’s phone has a call register in which the number of the phone from which the numerous calls were made was recorded. When she met with the head of the Facility LA -155/18, she was advised that a mobile phone was indeed confiscated during a search in cell N197.

5. On the same day, around 18:00, in order to find out the circumstances surrounding Mr. Mamai’s stay at the said facility, his wife and attorney were able to secure a meeting with its head, Mr. B. Baimagambetov, who told them that he had only just received the petition from the attorney and instructed a special-purpose unit to follow up on that petition. He assured them that the situation was under full control and that Mr. Mamai would be promptly relocated to a safe place.

6. On the same day, Zh. Turmagambetova, a member of the Public Council under the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, addressed the head of the Committee for Correctional System of the Republic of Kazakhstan MR. A. Bazylbekov concerning the situation around Mr. Mamai, and received assurances of his safety.

7. Next morning, 22 February 2017, E. Zhovtis on behalf of the Bureau for Human Rights sent urgent messages summarizing the situation:

– to the head of the 7th Department of the Almaty city prosecutor’s office E. Myrzakerov with a request to immediately dispatch a special prosecutor responsible for oversight of detention facilities to the pre-trial detention unit;
– to the Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Kazakhstan with a request to immediately dispatch a group of the National Preventive Mechanism against torture covering the city of Almaty and Almaty province, in order to conduct a check into the information on violations of Mr. Mamai’s rights.

An employee of the Bureau for Human Rights, A. Smirnova, reached the department of special prosecutors and received assurances that a special prosecutor would be dispatched to the detention unit.

8. On the same day, a member of the Committee, journalist R. Yesergepov, met with first deputy prosecutor for the city of Almaty B. Zhuiriktaev and raised the issue of Mr. Mamai’s safety.

9. In the morning of the same day, 22 February 2017, the attorney met with Mr. Mamai and discovered that he was still kept in the same cell N197, and that only two out of six persons were relocated to another cell.

10. At the same time, while meeting with the attorney and wife of Mr. Mamai, B. Baimagambetov made an attempt to substantiate the fact that Mr. Mamai was kept in the same cell with persons who have been criminally convicted before by the fact that Mr. Mamai himself had been held criminally responsible before. Indeed, according to Article 32 of the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On the procedure and conditions of keeping persons in special facilities ensuring temporary isolation from the general public” persons who have never been accused of a criminal offence must be kept separately from persons who have been previously convicted. However, according to the same article suspects must be kept separately from other suspects as well as other persons who have been previously convicted on charges of grave and especially grave crimes. According to the same law, suspects and accused persons must be placed in cells with due account to their psychological profile and compatibility with each other. It is obvious that placing someone who has never been accused or convicted of a criminal offence with those who have been convicted on multiple occasions, including for serious crimes, creates additional security risks for such persons. Finally, when security risks are apparent, which Mr. Mamai’s petition made absolutely clear they were, the administration of the detention unit had an obligation to take all measures to ensure his safety, as they are fully responsible for his life and health; however no such measures were taken as of noon of 22 February 2017.

11. On the same day, 22 February 2017, the special prosecutor arrived at the detention unit and together with the representatives of the Committee of Penal Enforcement System had a conversation with Mr. Mamai. As a result of this conversation, Mr. Mamai wrote (in his own words) a petition stating that he does not wish a criminal case to be initiated against his cellmates.

12. On the same day, during the afternoon meeting with his attorney, Mr. Mamai wrote a statement that any petitions he makes in the absence of his attorney must be considered invalid. Any interested person may familiarize themselves with the text of his hand-written statement.

13. On the same day, the medical official at the detention unit and the special prosecutor conducted a check-up of Mr. Mamai and, in his own words, found clearly visible brushes and bruises on his body—which according to the press release neither the prosecutor’s office or management of the detention unit had chosen to pay attention to or duly make a record of.

14. Next day, on 23 February 2017, a group of the National Preventive Mechanism against torture visited the detention unit and recorded brushes and bruises on Mr. Mamai’s body, although they were not as clearly visible as the day before. The following information was published on the same day on the website of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law: “In the course of a preventive visit conducted by the members of the NPM, and following the interviews with Mr. Mamai and other persons kept at the detention unit as well as his attorney Zh. E. Balgabaeva, it was found that indeed, his personal safety was not assured properly at the said detention unit. In particular, he was subjected to psychological and physical pressure from his cellmates who turned out to be the persons who had been convicted on multiple occasions on criminal charges before… In the course of their visit to the pre-trial detention unit, the NPM members found out that Mr. Mamai’s attorney had indeed requested that the management of the said unit take measures to assure his safety, however no such measures had been taken prior to the visit.” The NPM group stayed at the detention unit until Mr. Mamai had a chance to be relocated to a different cell, and would not leave until they made sure he was.

15. On 22 February 2017 interrogating officer G. Sovetkan issued a ruling of a forensic medical examination of Mr. Mamai which was being delayed this whole time, and the Almaty city department of internal affairs began a pre-trial investigation the results of which we are still unaware of.

We believe that these facts directly or indirectly point at the elements of a crime that has been committed against Mr. Mamai, and we express our regret that in this situation the Almaty city prosecutor’s office, instead of providing assistance in protecting Mr. Mamai’s right to freedom against torture and cruel treatment and personal security, seems to be doing the opposite, by helping the management of the pre-trial detention unit and Committee for Correctional System in their attempts to misrepresent the actual situation.

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