Tag Archives: Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan: Rights lawyer gets reprieve in high-profile case


The persecution of Kamil Ruziyev drew attention to the impunity enjoyed by law enforcement.

A human rights defender in Kyrgyzstan whose work exposed widespread police torture and official indifference to domestic violence has been acquitted in a case that hung over him for more than two years. 

On August 8 the state prosecutor asked a court in the city of Karakol to sentence lawyer Kamil Ruziyev to five years in jail on charges of forgery, but allow him to walk free under a government amnesty.

That the judge decided instead to acquit Ruziyev on August 12 is notable and likely a result of the local and international attention that had built around the case. Acquittals in Kyrgyzstan’s justice system are vanishingly rare. 

Ruziyev has been scrapping with law enforcement for much of his career. His laser-like attention to pretrial abuses of detainees earned him no shortage of enemies in the police and security forces.

One of his most aggressive opponents, a police investigator who has since left the force, even held a gun to his head during a heated argument inside a police headquarters.

Ruziyev filed a complaint over that incident but the investigator was not punished.  

In May 2020, representatives of the state national security committee arrested Ruziyev and held him in a cell without access to his lawyer for three days before putting him before a judge.






The rights lawyer who dared challenge Kyrgyzstan’s security services


Kamil Ruziyev took cases nobody else would and made plenty of enemies along the way.

Last month a photograph circulated on Kyrgyz social media showing a woman’s entire face swollen, with bruises that enclosed both eyes and blood speckled around her mouth.   

The woman in the photo, Aizat Usenbayeva, told Eurasianet that it was the eighth time her husband had beaten her. 

This time, as he rained down blows on her in the street outside her house, she believed he would finally follow through on his threat to kill her. 

Luckily, he was interrupted by a passerby. 

Usenbayeva, who is disabled, summoned the strength to phone police in the provincial city of Karakol later that day. Officers took her husband in for questioning, but he was released the same day. 

Police only held him overnight several days later after Kamil Ruziyev, a crusading lawyer who has been facing jail time for the last two years, publicized the case by posting the photo online and giving interviews to the media. 

“I met Kamil Ruziyev out of chance. Probably God sent him to me to keep me alive,” Usenbayeva told Eurasianet.

The life of a rights defender in Central Asia is rarely free of complications. 

For all the words of gratitude from clients on one side of a crooked justice system, there are threats and worse from its enforcers, who don’t like seeing their impunity challenged. 

State scrutiny is particularly intense for small-town advocates, whose support networks tend to be thinner than those of their colleagues in major political centers.

The most obvious example is the tragic fate of Azimjan Askarov, who was in 2010 convicted to life imprisonment, ostensibly for the murder of a policeman during ethnic unrest in the south of the country, among other charges.

Supporters of Askarov, an ethnic Uzbek, called the case revenge for his campaigning on behalf of citizens who suffered at the hands of police in the town of Bazar-Korgon, where he lived.

Askarov died in jail in July 2020. He was 69.

The accusations against Ruziyev took shape a few months before Askarov’s death and have persisted despite a change in the nation’s leadership.





Kyrgyzstan: Release Wrongfully Detained Lawyer Nurbek Toktakunov


IPHR [International Partnership for Human Rights] is seriously concerned about the detention of well-known lawyer Nurbek Toktakunov in Kyrgyzstan following critical remarks he made about the judicial system in connection with a peaceful protest against the war in Ukraine, which was dispersed by police. We call on the Kyrgyzstani authorities to immediately and unconditionally release the lawyer, to safeguard the rights to freedom of expression and assembly in accordance with their international obligations, and to allow lawyers, activists and other citizens to peacefully speak up on issues of concern to them without fear of repercussions.

On 24 March 2022 Pervomaisky District Court of Bishkek found Nurbek Toktakunov guilty of petty hooliganism (under article 126 of the Code of Offenses) and ruled to detain him for five days because of his allegedly insulting remarks about judges in Kyrgyzstan. The following morning, police detained Toktakunov outside his home, reportedly using disproportionate force, although the lawyer did not put up any resistance. He is currently serving his sentence in a police detention facility in the capital, where he has reported being held in substandard conditions with his cell lacking light, toilet and a place for sleeping. He has appealed against the ruling in his case.

The charges levelled against Toktakunov concern remarks he made in connection with a peaceful picket against the war in Ukraine held outside the Russian embassy in Bishkek on 17 March, when he criticised as unconstitutional a controversial court-sanctioned blanket ban on holding assemblies outside the embassy and in other central areas of the capital from 11 March to 11 April 2022. With reference to this decision, police claimed that the peaceful protest was not allowed and detained three participants, namely human rights defenders Aziza Abdirasulova, Dinara Oshurakhunova and Ondurush Toktonasyrov.







https://april.kg/ru/article/pravozashhitnik-nurbek-toktakunov-arestovan-na-5-sutok (KYRGYZ)


Uzbekistan/Kazakhstan/Kyrgyzstan etc: Majlis Podcast: Lawyers In Central Asia — Defending Clients And Themselves


A court in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, where lawyers often come under fierce pressure from the authorities. (file photo)
A court in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, where lawyers often come under fierce pressure from the authorities.

January 24 was the Day of the Endangered Lawyer and an opportunity to remember the many problems some Central Asian attorneys have to face.

In Central Asia, defendants have a right to an attorney, but state-appointed defenders have a reputation for half-hearted work or, in some cases, even supporting the prosecution in convicting their clients.

Being an independent lawyer willing to defend people who for some reason or another are looked upon as a nuisance or threat by the governments of the region is a hazardous occupation.

Some of these attorneys are intimidated or threatened, some are attacked, and some are imprisoned.

On this week’s Majlis podcast, RFE/RL media-relations manager Muhammad Tahir moderates a discussion on the plight of lawyers in Central Asia.

This week’s guests are: Madina Akhmetova, the director of the Dignity public association based in the Kazakh capital, Nur-Sultan; Jasmine Cameron, who is originally from Kyrgyzstan but is now a senior staff attorney at the Human Rights Center of the American Bar Association; from California, Steve Swerdlow, a longtime Central Asia watcher, recently returned from Uzbekistan, and human rights lawyer who is currently an associate professor of human rights at the University of Southern California; and from Prague, Bruce Pannier, the author of the Qishloq Ovozi blog.



EU: Bring Human Rights to the Top of Central Asia Agenda


European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in Brussels, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020.

The European Union (EU) should set consequences if Central Asian governments fail to meet more ambitious human rights goals, Human Rights Watch said today. The EU’s response to political turmoil, such as in Kyrgyzstan, or to challenges created by the Covid-19 pandemic, should prioritize respect for human rights and the rule of law.

On November 17, 2020, EU top diplomat Josep Borrell will meet remotely with foreign ministers from each of the five Central Asian countries, KazakhstanKyrgyzstanTajikistanTurkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, for the 16th EU-Central Asia Ministerial meeting. It is the first such gathering since Borrell took office in December 2019.

“Central Asian countries’ responses to this year’s crises would have been more effective if they had lived up to their pledges to respect rights,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The EU should be clear that greater support to the region is tied to genuine human rights reforms.”

The new EU strategy for Central Asia, adopted in 2019, equipped the EU to advocate for upholding human rights standards in the region. The strategy is based on the premise that democracy and the rule of law are necessary to make public institutions more responsive and accountable to their citizens.


Until the end of April, Tajikistan denied the existence of Covid-19 in the country. Those documenting the spread of the disease faced retaliation. Over 150 political opponents, critics, or their lawyers remain behind bars for lengthy prison terms on political grounds. Prison conditions remain abysmal; activists report widespread torture and ill-treatment in detention. Critics in exile face attacks and abusive extradition requests, and their families and relatives at home are harassed and detained. Violence against women and girls remains a serious concern.





https://golosadvokata.ru/ (RUSSIAN)

Kyrgyzstan: IBAHRI concerned over Kyrgyzstan lawyer Taalaigul Toktakunova punishment for discharging legal duties

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.





http://www.idhae.org/OBSAV-fr-wewskirg180301.htm (FRANCAIS)

China/Egypt/Kyrgystan: Orange the world Wang Yu, China

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.




Kyrgyzstan: UN Calls for Activist’s Release

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.


KYRGYZSTAN: Will government defend judges, lawyers and residents from police?

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.


Kyrgyz Republic: Supreme Court decision protects the role of lawyers and the independence of the judiciary (ICJ)

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.