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UN Official Says Torture Still Used By Kyrgyz Police

Juan Mendez, the UN's special rapporteur on torture
Juan Mendez, the UN's special rapporteur on torture
BISHKEK -- The UN's special rapporteur on torture has said in Bishkek that police, investigators, and prison guards in Kyrgyzstan still use torture during interrogations, RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service reports.
Juan Mendez said some investigators use plastic bags to partially suffocate suspects in order to get answers or confessions. He said electric shocks, gas poisoning, and severe beatings are used by some police, especially in the first several hours after an arrest or during informal questioning by guards in prisons.
Mendez also said that in the first 10 months of 2011, eight criminal cases have been launched against law enforcement officers for using abuse or torture and only two of them have faced trial.
No verdict has been pronounced in any of the eight officers' cases.
Mendez said the introduction of fully independent medical and forensic labs could help improve the situation. He expressed surprise that no one has ever been sentenced for torture in Kyrgyzstan when there is evidence proving that torture is present in the country's prison system.
Mendez said the conditions in jails and detention centers in Kyrgyzstan are very poor.
He also expressed hope that the case of the prominent Kyrgyz human rights defender of Uzbek origin, Azimjan Askarov, will be retried in court.
Askarov was found guilty in September 2010 of organizing deadly ethnic clashes and of involvement in the murder of a policeman during those clashes, which broke out in southern Kyrgyzstan in June of last year. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. The Supreme Court is considering his appeal.
The Mendez-led UN delegation came to Kyrgyzstan on December 5. Since then the delegation has visited several penitentiaries, detention centers, psychiatric clinics, and talked to people who say they experienced torture. They have also met with human rights activists and top politicians.
Mendez's full report regarding torture in Kyrgyzstan with recommendations on how to eliminate it is due to be presented to the Bishkek government within one month.

Read more in Kyrgyz here

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