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UN Rights Chief: Kyrgyz Security May Have Used Torture

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay (file photo)
The UN's human rights chief says she has information that Kyrgyz security forces committed abuses such as torture and arbitrary detention in southern Kyrgyzstan, the scene of deadly ethnic violence in June.

In a statement today, High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said, "Large numbers of people -- most of them young men, and virtually all of them Uzbek -- have been arbitrarily detained in ways that not only demonstrate flagrant ethnic bias, but also break many of the fundamental tenets of both Kyrgyz and international law."

Pillay added that her staff in Kyrgyzstan have received information from a range of sources suggesting that "local authorities are routinely turning a blind eye to illegal arrests, torture, and ill-treatment of detainees leading to forced confessions."

Pillay's office was in close touch with authorities in Osh, who say they have received very few complaints of torture and mistreatment, which makes it hard for them to take action, spokesman Rupert Colville said.

"But we believe that's precisely because the victims and their families are afraid of reprisals," he told reporters.

Clashes between ethnic Kyrgyz and ethnic Uzbeks in Kyrgyzstan's Osh and Jalal-Abad regions last month left more than 300 dead and displaced another 400,000.

compiled from agency reports