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U.S. Department of State: Official impunity remains a problem in Kyrgyzstan

The U.S. Department of State has published a report on human rights in Kyrgyzstan for 2019.

It outlines both the current achievements of the republic in the field of human rights and the main problems of the Kyrgyz Republic in this area:

  • Law enforcement and security services’ use of torture and arbitrary arrests;
  • Harsh and life-threatening prison conditions;
  • Political prisoners;
  • Significant problems with the independence of the judiciary;
  • Severe restrictions on free expression, the press, and the internet, including site blocking and criminal libel in practice;
  • Significant acts of corruption;
  • Trafficking in persons;
  • Crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex persons (LGBTI);
  • Use of forced child labor.

As it is stressed in the report, while the government took steps to investigate and prosecute or punish officials known to have committed human rights abuses, especially those involved in corrupt activities, official impunity remained a problem.

The law prohibits torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment in Kyrgyzstan. Nevertheless, physical abuse, including inhuman and degrading treatment, reportedly continued in prisons.

The U.S. Department of State

Police abuse reportedly remained a problem, notably in pretrial detention. During the year NGOs reported that courts regularly included into evidence confessions allegedly induced through torture.

Prison conditions were harsh and sometimes life threatening due to food and medicine shortages, substandard health care, lack of heat, and mistreatment.

The constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary, but judges were subject to influence or corruption.

The U.S. Department of State

Numerous sources, including NGOs, attorneys, government officials, and private citizens, asserted that some judges paid bribes to attain their positions. Many attorneys asserted that judges ubiquitously accept bribes.

The constitution and law provide for freedom of expression, including for the press, and the government generally respected this right, the report says.

NGO leaders and media rights advocates acknowledged a more relaxed press environment under the Jeenbekov administration, noting a clear drop in libel lawsuits against independent media outlets and the withdrawal of existing cases launched under the previous administration.

As in earlier years, some journalists reported intimidation related to coverage of sensitive topics, such as interethnic relations, religious extremism, or the rise of nationalism.

The U.S. Department of State

In recent years the government, security services, and oligarchs attempted to prevent independent media from operating freely in the country. The government continued its tight controls over news content on state television.

The U.S. Department of State noted the inability of the Kyrgyz government to effectively implement the law on criminal punishment of officials convicted of corruption.

«Officials frequently engaged in corrupt practices with impunity. Civil society and media reported numerous incidents of government corruption during the year. The practice of officials in all levels of law enforcement accepting the payment of bribes to avoid investigation or prosecution is a major problem,» the report says.

While the law specifically prohibits domestic violence and spousal abuse, violence against women and girls remained a significant yet underreported problem.

The U.S. Department of State

Many women did not report crimes against them due to psychological pressure, economic dependence, cultural traditions, fear of stigma, and apathy among law enforcement officers.

As for the child abuse, according to NGO and UN reports, child abuse, including beatings, child labor, and commercial sexual exploitation of boys and girls continued to occur.