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Waiting for justice

Human rights activist Azimzhan Askarov set a precedent. Will other prisoners follow his example?

Sentenced to life imprisonment Azimzhan Askarov turned to the UN Committee on Human Rights. International structure, having studied the materials, gave domestic Themis 170 days to review the verdict.

Eighteen independent international human rights experts, coming to the conclusion that Azimzhan Askarov was "arbitrarily arrested, kept in inhumane conditions, subjected to torture and ill-treatment, unable to adequately prepare arguments in his defense" urge Kyrgyzstan to release the activist immediately.

According to the Committee, the state has violated several articles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights against the human rights defender.

According to the committee, Kyrgyzstan is obliged to release Azimzhan Askarov, if necessary, conducting a new trial "respecting the principles of a fair hearing, presumption of innocence and other legal safeguards." The Supreme Court responded to the Committee's conclusion four days later. Statement of the Supreme Court of the KR said that the Supreme Board is ready to review the verdict.

The Constitution, namely its Article 41, obliges the Supreme Court to do so. By the way, according to presidential adviser Busurmankul Tabaldiyev, it threatens national security, undermines the foundations of the state and allows other countries and international institutions to impose their will. "In accordance with the criminal procedure legislation, the decision of the UN Committee on Human Rights is the basis for renewed consideration by the Supreme Court of the criminal case under the new circumstances," chairperson of the Kyrgyz Supreme Court Ainash Tokbaeva said and added that under Articles 93 and 94 of the Constitution, justice in the country is fulfilled only by the court and any interference in its activities is prohibited. "The court will make a decision on the results of the study of the case, including the arguments of the United Nations Human Rights Committee," she said.

Role Model

"So the domestic Themis can't disobey the decision of committee, but it reserves the right not to change the sentence against Azimzhan Askarov, if it doesn't find sufficient grounds after repeated study of materials. Another point: Askarov's appeal set a precedent in the jurisprudence of Kyrgyzstan, and now other prisoners may follow it, especially those who held political offices. I'm talking about the figurants of April case, former high-ranking officials, commanders of special units. They may appeal," the analyst Anvar Nagoev said.

Another contender to challenge the decision of the Supreme Court of the Kyrgyz Republic in the Human Rights Committee - the former Bishkek mayor Nariman Tuleyev. He was released on amnesty on May 7. He reimbursed the state damages in the amount of 61 million soms and now craves justice. First, the ex-mayor is going to return the confiscated property through the international courts. And after, using the UN Committee, he will make a Kyrgyz court to withdraw all charges against him. It should be noted that the amnesty doesn't involve rehabilitation, it is a sort of forgiveness granted to criminals by the state.

In conclusion

All these cases in our judicial practice may ricochet not only to the judicial system, but also to other branches of government. The state which judgments are called into question and after are appealed against in the highest international institutions, won't be taken seriously on the world stage. The proof: our partners willingly provide asylum to politicians, fleeing the country from punishing, but the blunt sword of domestic Themis.