Kyrgyz court ready to revise ruling against jailed rights activist


BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Court on April 25 said it is ready to revise its ruling against jailed human rights defender Azimjan Askarov.

The Supreme Court’s chairperson, Ainash Tokbayeva, said that the Court’s decision in December 2011 to uphold Askarov’s conviction by a lower court can be revised in order to comply with a call from the UN Commission on Human Rights.

On 21 April 2016, the UN Human Rights Committee urged Kyrgyzstan to immediately release Askarov, overturn his conviction and provide him with compensation for violations of his human rights, after finding he had been subjected to arbitrary detention, torture, ill-treatment, and violations of his fair-trial rights.

Askarov, a human rights defender who has documented human rights violations by the police and prison authorities in his hometown of Bazar-Korgon for more than 10 years, was arrested on 15 June 2010 in the aftermath of ethnic violence in southern Kyrgyzstan. He was found guilty of instigating ethnic hatred, inciting disorder and being complicit in the murder of a police officer who died during the unrest, and given a life sentence.

On April 22, Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), welcomed the UN Human Rights Committee’s decision on Askarov’s complaint, calling on Kyrgyzstan to release Askarov and overturn his sentence.

“I call on the Kyrgyz authorities to release Mr. Askarov as recommended by the UN Human Rights Committee, in line with its OSCE commitments and obligations under international human rights law,” said Director Link. “Observers of his trials, including from ODIHR, have reported violations of fair-trial standards.”

“Kyrgyzstan now has an opportunity to correct this injustice, restoring both Mr. Askarov’s rights and its national human rights record in this regard,” Link said. “Freeing him will also send a strong signal to law enforcement and judicial actors in Kyrgyzstan that the rule of law must be upheld equally for all citizens.”