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Human Rights Watch sends recommendations to President Sadyr Japarov

Recommendations that the government can take in to account to improve the human rights situation were sent to the President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov. They are listed in the official letter of Hugh Williamson, Executive Director of Europe and Central Asia Division of the international human rights organization Human Rights Watch.

As it is noted, following the contested parliamentary elections in October 2020, a period of political uncertainty unfolded in Kyrgyzstan. So, it is critical for the government of the country to commit to ensuring rule of law in political processes as a matter of urgency.

The current caretaker parliament should refrain from considering or passing far-reaching legislative reforms such as the proposed draft constitution.

«As a caretaker parliament, its focus should be on discharging essential governance functions in line with the established rule of law until the will of the people is expressed in a free and fair election. We thus urge you to ensure that new parliamentary elections are held as soon as possible to facilitate a speedy return to rule of law in political processes in the country. We also call upon your government to ensure the organization of the Constitutional reform process is in accordance with standards set out in the Constitution and that any proposed changes to the Constitution comply with international human rights treaties that Kyrgyzstan has ratified,» the letter says.

In addition, Human Rights Watch notes, while significant changes to the electoral legislation have been made since the last elections in terms of voter registration and preventing voter fraud, there were still reports of widespread abuse of administrative resources, as well as involuntary rallying of staff at government-affiliated institutions and universities. Kyrgyzstan should commit to working with OSCE/ODIHR to address these shortcomings and follow up on its recommendation to review relevant legal provisions especially as other elections and a referendum are planned in 2021.

The organization reminds that the COVID-19 pandemic has posed acute human rights challenges globally, including in Kyrgyzstan, and resulted on occasions during 2020 in unfounded bans on peaceful assemblies, and threats of criminal sanctions or investigations for spreading «false information» about the virus against doctors and others who raised concerns about the Kyrgyz government’s response.

«We urge your government to continue prioritizing human rights in your responses to the pandemic, for instance in providing access to healthcare for all and ensuring steps taken to protect the public are proportionate and non-discriminatory. The media should be allowed to report on developments linked to the pandemic and ensure the public is fully informed about the spread of the virus and steps the government is taking. Healthcare workers should be free to report working conditions without the threat of sanction by law enforcement or their employers,» Hugh Williamson says in the letter.

During the COVID-19 related lockdown measures in 2020, reported cases of domestic violence increased in Kyrgyzstan. However, life-saving services for survivors of violence faced operational constraints and many women struggled to gain access to shelters and other essential protections. So the government of Kyrgyzstan is urged to ensure that pandemic-related measures do not inhibit women and girls facing domestic abuse or the risk of such violence from seeking help.

We also encourage you to ensure all children and young people have access to educational resources as the pandemic unfolds.

Human Rights Watch

Sadyr Japarov is asked to acknowledge and address the injustices, abuse, and torture committed disproportionately against ethnic Uzbeks during and in the aftermath of June 2010 events.

«While southern Kyrgyzstan is no longer a site of open ethnic conflict, until there is accountability for past abuses, there will always be legitimate concerns about the prospect of long-term stability in the region,» the human rights defenders believe.

They also remind that it has been more than six months since Kyrgyzstan’s prison administration opened an investigation into the circumstances of Azimzhan Askarov’s death, yet there has been no discernable progress in bringing to justice those responsible for his wrongful imprisonment, denial of medical care, or his death.

«We call on you to commission an independent, impartial investigation into Askarov’s wrongful imprisonment, denial of adequate care, and death in custody. Kyrgyzstan should not only provide accountability for Askarov’s death in custody, but also ensure his legal rehabilitation and that his family is compensated,» Human Rights Watch writes, urging to make Askarov’s case one of the priorities of work in reforming the judicial system.

The President is urged to reaffirm the importance of civil society in the democratic development of Kyrgyzstan and to bring an end to any undue interference or efforts to limit the important work of human rights defenders in the country, including interference with their rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. The organization also calls on Japarov to lift restrictions on foreign human rights workers’ access to Kyrgyzstan.

Human Rights Watch calls on Sadyr Japarov to ensure guarantees of freedom of expression and free access to information.

The head of state is urged to condemn any unfounded attacks on the media and on free speech, and to guarantee that critical media outlets and journalists can carry out their important work without fear of harassment or retaliation.

In addition, the government is urged to ensure inclusive education for children with disabilities, to make combating domestic violence a priority, to respect citizens’ labor rights and not to harass trade unions.

Full text of the Human Rights Watch’s letter can be found here.