March 7, 2018
The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) is gravely concerned by the case brought against Kyrgyz lawyer Taalaigul Toktakunova, by the General Prosecutor of the Kyrgyz Republic, that appear to align her with charges laid against one of her clients. The charges revolve around perceived attacks on the honour of former President of the Kyrgyz Republic, Almazbek Sharshenovich. Consequently, Ms Toktakunova has been made to pay compensation, and has had her property and assets confiscated.
IBAHRI Co-Chair Ambassador (ret.) Hans Corell commented: ‘The IBAHRI calls on the government of Kyrgyzstan to take all possible measures to ensure that lawyers can carry out their legitimate professional activities without fear of intimidation, harassment or interference, in accordance with international human rights standards. For the rule of law to prosper, it is essential that individuals in Kyrgyzstan, regardless of their political affiliations, be given equal access to legal representation, and that lawyers are not associated with their clients. Lawyers should be free to defend any individual before a court of law.’
In March 2017, the General Prosecutor of Kyrgyzstan made a claim against Ms Toktakunova and her colleague Kanatbek Aziz, among others, based around alleged attacks on the reputation of then President Sharshenovich. The claim came after Ms Toktakunova, a lawyer for the political party Ata Meken, held a press conference regarding the arrest of her client, opposition party leader Omurbek Tekebayev. During the press conference, Ms Toktakunova and her colleague stated that the criminal case against Mr Tekebayev was unlawfully initiated, and that he was arrested due to confidential information he had obtained in relation to illegal activity in which President Sharshenovich had allegedly engaged.
November 27, 2017
The 25th of every month has been designated “Orange Day” by the United Nations Secretary-General’s Campaign UNiTE to End Violence Against Women, to raise awareness and take action to end violence against women and girls. From 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign called “Orange the World” takes place. Justice International together with Lawyers for Lawyers will be highlighting women-lawyers (and human rights defenders) who work to end violence against women and girls around the world.
Ms. Wang Yu started practicing law in 2004 in Beijing. She is a member of the human rights lawyers group of China, set up in 2013. She is by far one of the few female lawyers who have remained steadfast in face of the suppressive environment for lawyer practice in China. Wang began to focus on human rights and public interest cases in 2011 and has been involved in cases of disability discrimination, religious freedom, land rights and illegal restriction of personal freedom by government and law enforcement officials, and activists’ cases.
April 21, 2016
A United Nations Committee has called for Kyrgyzstan to release a human rights defender, Azimjon Askarov, and to quash his conviction, Human Rights Watch said today. In a ruling published on April 21, 2016, the UN Human Rights Committee found that Askarov, who is serving a life sentence, was arbitrarily detained, held in inhumane conditions, tortured, and otherwise mistreated without redress and was not given a fair trial.
“Kyrgyzstan shouldn’t wait another day to release Azimjon Askarov, who has been languishing in prison for six years,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The committee’s decision offers Kyrgyzstan the opportunity to finally right this grave wrong.”
Askarov, 64, is a human rights defender from southern Kyrgyzstan. For years he worked as the director of Air, a local human rights organization, and focused on documenting prison conditions and police treatment of detainees. Askarov also documented violence and looting in the town of Bazar-Korgon during an eruption of violence in southern Kyrgyzstan in June 2010.
Police arrested Askarov that month for “organizing mass disturbances” and “inciting interethnic hatred” leading to the killing of a policeman in Bazar-Korgon. In September 2010, the Bazar-Korgon District Court found Askarov guilty and sentenced him to life in prison. His conviction was upheld on appeal, despite his credible allegations of ill-treatment and torture, as well as attacks on his lawyer and hostility and violence in the courtroom that undermined his right to a fair trial.
November 3, 2015
A Jehovah’s Witness mother and daughter in Kyrgyzstan have been freed from house arrest, having been held since March 2013, in what a judge described as “a fabricated case”, Forum 18 News Service has learned. But NSC secret police and ordinary police 10th Department officers repeatedly illegally tried to stop the two women’s lawyers participating in the appeal hearing, and then invaded the judges’ deliberation room when they realised that the women might be set free. Under international law some of the police should not have been at liberty, as they were involved in torturing other Jehovah’s Witnesses. The two women’s defence lawyers have publicly called for the ordinary police and NSC secret police officers who openly attacked lawyers’ and judges’ independence to be investigated on criminal charges, and if guilty punished according to the law. Officials have refused to tell Forum 18 if these and other official attempts to obstruct the rule of law will be subject to investigation and criminal charges.
June 25, 2015
The International Commission of Jurists today welcomed the decisions by the Kyrgyz Supreme Court declaring illegal the recent government searches of the homes and offices of lawyers, and seizures of their legal files.
In three related cases, the Court upheld the findings of the Osh regional court that the searches of the homes of lawyers Valerian Vakhitov and Khusanbay Saliyev and lawyers’ offices at the NGO “Bir-Duyno-Kyrgyzstan” by officers of the State National Security Committee were contrary to Kyrgyz law.
The Supreme Court also dismissed the attempts by the Prosecutor’s Office to initiate disciplinary action against judges of the Osh regional court as a result of their decision in these cases.
Kyrgyzstan’s National Security Agency (GKNB) on March 27, 2015, searched the Osh office of Bir Duino, a well-known human rights organization and the homes of two of its lawyers, Human Rights Watch said today. The group is well known for its work on religious extremism and torture cases in southern Kyrgyzstan.
The searches were in connection with a criminal investigation involving Umar Farooq, a freelance journalist from the United States who was in Kyrgyzstan working on several stories. During the search the GKNB confiscated computers, flash drives, and other equipment that contained legal documentation in criminal cases the two lawyers, Valeryan Vakhitov and Husanbai Saliev, had been working on.
A Kyrgyz court on September 15, 2010, sentenced a human rights defender to life in prison for his alleged role in the June violence in southern Kyrgyzstan, following court hearings marred by violence and threats against the defense. Human Rights Watch urged the Kyrgyz government to guarantee a fair and public retrial for the rights defender, Azimjon Askarov, and his co-defendants and to free him pending the retrial.