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UN Official Says Kazakh Prisoners Tortured, Abused

Manfred Nowak speaks to reporters in Astana.
Manfred Nowak speaks to reporters in Astana.
The UN's special rapporteur on torture, Manfred Nowak, said in Astana that violence and torture exist in Kazakhstan's penitentiary system, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Nowak said he has medical proof of cases in which prison guards beat inmates with plastic bottles filled with sand and placed plastic bags over inmates' heads to simulate suffocation.

He said before Kazakhstan takes over the chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) next year, it should adopt laws prohibiting the use of torture on inmates.

He also said that complaints of torture should be investigated and prisons should be under the jurisdiction of the Justice Ministry, not the Interior Ministry.

Nowak added that medical examinations of alleged torture victims should be held without the involvement of police and the Prosecutor's Office.

His observations will be sent to the UN Human Rights Council.

Meanwhile, five inmates at a maximum security prison in the central Kazakh city of Dolinka self-mutilated themselves on May 13 to protest conditions at the facility, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

The prisoners are demanding more visits by their relatives and that they be allowed an unlimited number of parcels. The prison was visited by Nowak this week along with several others in the region.