Kazakhstan will report to the United Nations (UN) Committee against Torture on measures taken after the events of bloody January (Qantar) 2022. This is according to the Deputy Chairwoman of the International Bureau for Human Rights, Roza Akylbekova, who added that information on urgent recommendations, which primarily concern Qantar, should be provided no later than May 12th, 2024 "This is information about what happened, how many people were affected, and, of course, about deaths in closed institutions and how Kazakhstan is investigating them," Akylbekova said at a news conference at the office of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law. In addition, according to the human rights activist, the Ministry of Defense of Kazakhstan will have to prepare information on the deaths of conscripts. It has been 25 years since Kazakhstan joined the UN Convention against Torture, since which time the Coalition of NGOs of Kazakhstan against Torture and the National Preventive Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture have been established created. Furthermore, Kazakhstan added an article on torture to the criminal code and opened up a path for individual appeals regarding torture directly to the UN Committee. At the same time, however, torture remains a pressing problem in the country. According to the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law, 200-250 people apply to the Coalition of NGOs against Torture every year. In 2022, 190 appeals were received in connection with the January events, and another 88 episodes that had no connection to the mass riots of that year. Since Qantar, the number of complaints has not fallen, with 283 appeals in 2023, during which year over 20 systemic recommendations were issued to Kazakhstan. Earlier this year, the European Union (EU) funded a three-year project by Kazakhstani human rights defenders that aims to eradicate torture. As part of this project, the Kazakhstan NGO Coalition against Torture and the Prison Reform International (PRI) office will analyze individual cases of criminal prosecution for torture which do not reach trial. However, these cases are difficult to identify and prosecute. "In Kazakhstan such crime as torture is adjacent to other articles of the Criminal Code: in addition to 'torture,' the concepts of 'ill-treatment' and 'abuse of power' are used. Therefore, the official statistics on those prosecuted for 'torture' (Article 146) do not give an understanding of how many cases are actually hidden behind the lighter articles. At the same time, Article 146 itself has been divided into two parts: 'torture,' which will be investigated by the prosecutor's office, and 'cruel and inhuman treatment,' which is left to the Interior Ministry, whose employees are most often the beneficiaries of torture," the press service of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law reported. The UN Committee against Torture was established in January 1987. It consists of 10 independent experts, who currently represent the United States, Turkey, China, Japan, Russia, France, Morocco, Moldova, Latvia, and Mexico. They monitor the implementation of the Convention...
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A well-known Kazakhstani businessman and a relative of former President Nazarbayev has returned another $98.5 million to the state's coffers. This money was returned as part of the criminal case against Kairat Satybaldy, according to the Anti-Corruption Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan. "At present, the funds have been sent to the republican budget on account of compensation for damage caused to the state," said the head of the agency, Askhat Zhumagali. Satybaldy - a nephew of the first president of Kazakhstan - is a well-known businessman and former politician. He held positions in the Akimat of the capital, the National Security Committee, and developed business in the oil and gas industry, banking, the services sector, and trade. Satybaldy was detained in March 2022, accused of abuse of power and embezzlement on a large scale at both JSC Kazakhtelecom and JSC Center of Transport Services. In September of that year, an Astana court found Satybaldy guilty and sentenced him to six years imprisonment, replete with the confiscation of property and deprivation of the right to hold office for ten years. In addition, he was relieved of the title of Major General of the National Security Committee (KNB) and other state awards. In total, since the beginning of 2022, the Anti-Corruption Agency has returned $2 billion of illegally withdrawn assets, of which almost $1.5 billion belonged to Satybaldy. These include a stake in state company, Kazakhtelecom, companies in the railroad and telecommunications sectors, as well as jewelry worth more than $200 million. Additionally, as part of the criminal case, the state repossessed a stake in the Baisat Market, which had belonged to Satybaldy's son. The Agency noted that other investigations into Nazarbayev's nephew on cases related to non-payment of taxes and the laundering of proceeds from criminal activities are ongoing. At the same time, in order to preclude the withdrawal of embezzled budget funds abroad, the anti-corruption service intends to introduce digital technologies, including mechanisms for "coloring" money, and the use of digital tender to fully track how state funds are spent. "Long-term construction projects [and] untimely and low-quality construction are often associated with either embezzlement or withdrawal of money for further kickbacks to officials and other offenses,"Zhumagali stated. "Digital tenge as a tool will help us realize the [plan for] 'coloring' money. And if this money is allocated for salaries, it will not go in other directions. This whole procedure of money movement allocated from the budget becomes transparent, and all transactions must reach their goal; each tenge must be spent for a specifically envisaged purpose." In Kazakhstan, corruption continues to be one of the main factors hindering the country's economic development. In 2023, the country ranked 93rd out of 180 states on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index with a raw score of 39 out of 100. However, this saw an improvement on the ranking of 101st registered on the 2022 index, and following the resignation of the government, on February 7th President Tokayev targeted stamping out corruption as a...
BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan’s Interior Ministry on December 27 formally informed Deputy Chairperson of the Social Democratic Party of Kyrgyzstan (SDPK) Kunduz Joldubayeva, Parliament members Asel Koduranova and Irina Karamushkina, and SDPK member Meerbek Miskenbayev that they are suspected of attempt of forceful seizure of power, 24.kg news agency reported. Continue reading
DUSHANBE (TCA) — A court in Tajikistan has sentenced a senior Dushanbe police officer and three other officers to time in prison after they were found guilty of torturing a man who was being held for drug charges, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reported. Continue reading
BISHKEK (TCA) — Kyrgyzstan’s former President Almazbek Atambayev has been charged with killing a security officer during a two-day standoff between security forces and supporters of the former head of state in August, RFE/RL reports. Interior Minister Kashkar Junushaliev said on December 13 that Atambayev had been formally informed that he is suspected of lethally shooting Colonel Usenbek Niyazbekov, a father of six, during the raid on Atambayev's compound in the village of Koi-Tash near Bishkek on August 7. According to Junushaliev, ballistic tests revealed that Niyazbekov was shot in the chest by a sniper rifle registered to Atambayev. Atambayev himself told journalists on August 8 that he was the only one in the compound who had guns and that he was the only one who shot firearms during clashes between riot police and Atambayev's supporters. Security officials were sent to Atambayev's compound after he refused to obey three subpoenas calling him to the Interior Ministry for questioning in an investigation over his alleged involvement in the illegal release of a jailed organized-crime boss in 2013. Atambayev was arrested on August 8 after he surrendered to police following a violent two-day resistance. He was charged with using violence against representatives of the state, organizing mass unrest, masterminding a murder attempt, hostage taking, and corruption. The resistance by the former president and his supporters resulted in the death of the 47-year-old Niyazbekov and injuries to more than 170 others, including 79 law enforcement officers. In other news, ex-deputy of the Parliament of Kyrgyzstan Ravshan Jeenbekov was detained in Bishkek late on December 12, 24.kg news agency reported with reference to the press service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The ministry said that the former parliament deputy is suspected of taking hostages as well as organizing mass riots in Koi-Tash village during the detention of former President Atambayev in August.
NUR-SULTAN (TCA) — On 18-19 November in Nur-Sultan, the European Union and Kazakhstan held their 17th Subcommittee on Justice and Home Affairs and 11th Human Rights Dialogue. This year the annual meetings took place at a time of political change for Kazakhstan and a pivotal moment for EU-Kazakhstan bilateral relations with the ratification by all EU Member States of the EU-Kazakhstan Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA), the Delegation of the European Union to Kazakhstan said. Continue reading