“Life imprisonment: legal regulation and execution in the Kyrgyz Republic”

The round table on legal regulation and execution of life imprisonment took place in Park Hotel, Bishkek, on 10th September 2019. The event was organized by Ombudsman of the Kyrgyz Republic and the Coalition against Torture in Kyrgyzstan.
 Participants: deputies of Jogorku Kenesh (Parliament), representatives of state bodies, of the Supreme Court of KR, of international organizations, and representatives of civil society organizations. Participants discussed features of legal status of sentenced for life imprisonment, and how the rights of this category are respected; also, they discussed existing problems on execution of life imprisonment in practice. 
 According to the legislation of the Kyrgyz Republic, life imprisonment is the type of punishment for committing a criminal offence, that is defined by the court’s decision for indefinite period. That is to say, a convicted is held in prison until his biological death.
 Life imprisonment is only for committing especially serious crimes against life, public health, public security, and sexual integrity of minors who are under fourteen years old. 
 All owners of life imprisonment are men. This type of punishment does not apply to women, people under 18 years old, and to those who turned 60 years old by the time of the court’s sentence. The legislation does not indicate age limit for imprisonment. 
 Sentenced for life imprisonment are living in special treatment facilities, which envisage increased degree of supervision over their behavior and complete isolation from society.   it is believed that this category of prisoners pose an increased social danger compared to other prisoners, therefore, they are monitored during day and night times.  
 For today, we have 347 people who were sentenced to life imprisonment. The country has only one functioning colony with special regime, Institution No. 19, which can contain 128 people. The majority of sentenced are allocated not in the specialized facilities.
 According to the annual reports of the Kyrgyz Republic National Center on Prevention of Torture, the living conditions and treatment for life imprisonment prisoners often turned out to be much worse than for other category of prisoners, and they do not meet international human rights standards.  
One of the specific disadvantages of life imprisonment in our country is the development of penal practice which focuses on ultimate isolation and creates the number of right limitations for prisoners.  
This trend of ultimate isolation came from the consideration that this category of prisoners poses a special danger to the rule of law in facilities, the safety of prisoners, staff, and other people nearby. Excessive security measures are also applied to the other aspects of life imprisonment execution.  
In addition, it is important to emphasize the issue of how prisoner communicate with outside world. Family preservation is very important for prisoners of life imprisonment, and they care more about it than other category of prisoners. Nevertheless, issues of communication with family members, namely, conditions for providing and conducting meetings are not satisfactory. According to the opinions of prisoners, limitations on communication with the outside world is one of the biggest problems.

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