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Kazakhstan Introduces Color-Coded Uniforms For Prisoners

Samal Ghadylbekova of the Kazakh Justice Ministry's Committee to Control Penitentiaries
ASTANA -- Kazakh authorities have introduced new color-coded uniforms for prison inmates which they say will make it easier to catch escaped convicts, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Samal Ghadylbekova of the Justice Ministry's Committee to Control Penitentiaries (KUIS), told RFE/RL on September 7 that according to a decree issued by the government in February, all inmates in minimum-security labor camps will have a green uniform, those in maximum security will have a blue uniform, and those in so-called "extremely strengthened" security will wear black uniforms.

Ghadylbekova said that this week the new uniforms were distributed among inmates in the central Qaraghandy and North Kazakhstan Oblasts. She said the different colors will make it easier to locate inmates who escape from jail.

"The new uniform also has special light-reflecting components to clearly indentify a convict in the night if he or she escapes out of his/her labor camp," Ghadylbekova said.

Anastasia Miller of the Human Rights Center in the northern city of Qostanai told RFE/RL that she hopes the old practice of putting three huge letters -- "PLS" for "Sentenced to Life in Jail" -- on the back of inmates' backs will be stopped.

Kazakh human rights activist Vadim Kuramshin told RFE/RL that the introduction of uniforms in jails will add to the stress and depression of inmates. He said when he served a jail term several years ago the inmates were allowed to wear different types of clothes, including athletic wear.

"It was very important to feel like normal people wearing normal clothes then as it helped us to remain human," he said.

Read more in Kazakh here