Human rights defenders were denied passes to inspect detention facilities in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

The National center for the prevention of torture was denied permits by the Bishkek Commandant to carry out inspections of places of detention. The Director of the National center for the prevention of torture, Dinara Sayakov, informed ACCA.
According to her, prisoners today are the most vulnerable, as no one is allowed to visit them. This is justified by the serious epidemiological situation. No one can come and check on them, they don’t have phones, and they can’t complain to us. In past, they had contacted the center through lawyers and relatives. Visits were now prohibited. Lawyers were not allowed. The Bar Association has written about this, noting that this is a violation of the right to a defense. It turns out they’re completely cut off, which means they’re at risk. I’m not saying they’re all beaten up. But the risk is huge», – told Dinara Sayakova. The Human rights defender emphasizes that the staff of the center are fully prepared for visiting places of detention. They have special suits, respirators, glasses and personal hygiene.
I’m comfortable sitting at home and not putting myself in danger, but you have to think about how many people are there. They need help. Let me remind you that the right to be protected from torture is absolute. The UN Committee for the Prevention of Torture has sent us recommendations under the optional protocol. They clearly stated that Governments should not prohibit the work of national preventive mechanisms. On the contrary, it should facilitate the fulfillment of their mandates in the period of the Coronavirus pandemic», – added the director of the National Center. The document sets out how human rights officers can deal with the risk of a new coronavirus infection. What to pay attention to and what preventive measures to apply when visiting prisoners.
Now we don’t know what’s going on there. We’re getting information from the media. Recently, it was reported that the State Penal Correction Service staff were carrying out indoor disinfection and providing personal hygiene facilities. But whether that’s true, I can’t say. That’s what our job is. Visit places, check all is respected and inform the public about this», – Sayakov notes. The human rights defender emphasizes that she views the fact that the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Bishkek Commandant denied the National center staff passes as an impediment to the Centre’s activities.
“Perhaps it was done intentionally to hide the facts. I’m not asserting it, but it could be. Otherwise, how can I explain the fact that my staff in Osh and Dzhalal-Abad oblast, where the epidemiological situation is worse, were given passes by two commandants,” she said.
Today, Dinara Sayakova said, all hope is in the media that press reports will influence the situation. After all, she has been unable to get any response from official bodies for almost two weeks.
The Commandant ignores my official communications and communications in messengers and social networks. There is no reply from the Home Secretary either. I sent him a letter ten days ago. On April 6, I addressed our coordinating council, the highest authority of the National Centre, and asked them to address Parliament. They have sent a communication to the Committee on Law Enforcement, Crime Prevention and Anti-corruption. They are still considering the application. So, what we are waiting for», the defender concluded.
The situation for ACCA was commented on by the Coalition against torture in Kyrgyzstan.
“We proceed from the presidential decree and the law “On Emergency Situation”. Article 17 of the law says that the formation of a commandant’s office in the area where the state of emergency has been declared does not suspend the activities of state and local government bodies operating in the said area, unless otherwise provided by presidential decree or parliamentary decree on the state of emergency,” said Coalition executive director Indira Sautova.
According to her, the center is a
 
state body and its activities should not be suspended in Bishkek.

The National Preventive Mechanism should not be suspended because of the introduction of the NP. On the contrary, the presence of people in temporary holding facilities, when the State Security Service refuses to receive State defenders, results in massive violations of rights and risks for both staff and detainees. Visits by relatives and lawyers were also prohibited, investigations were continuing and who would then take preventive measures in closed institutions? People in prisons are forbidden to receive food, lawyers do not visit them, we do not know what happens in closed institutions. Therefore, the state body, whose mandate is directly aimed at preventing these measures, should be granted access to places of detention», she stressed.