Physicians, psychologists, medical personnel and forensic experts play an important role in the process of proving the facts of torture and other forms of ill-treatment. They provide detection of traces of torture and the collection of necessary information for an effective investigation. The objectives of medical personnel on the effective documentation of torture are set out in the Istanbul Protocol.
Since 2011, the Coalition against Torture has been actively involved in the implementation of the principles of the Istanbul Protocol in the work of physicians and psychologists in Kyrgyzstan. This work carried out in a partnership with the Ministry of Health of the Kyrgyz Republic and the Soros Foundation-Kyrgyzstan. As a result of the efforts made, in 2014 the MH KR issued Order No. 649 on the implementation of the principles of the “Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment in the Kyrgyz Republic“.
One of the important areas of the Coalition is the direct training of the medical personnel in effective medical documentation of the facts of violence and torture. So, 363 specialists were trained in 2015 – 2016. The Coalition against Torture cooperated with the Kyrgyz State Medical Institute for the Retraining and Upgrading of Teachers. 107 teachers were trained to conduct training on the effective documentation of torture and other forms of ill-treatment.
In Kyrgyzstan, in most cases (more than 90%) the prosecutor’s office denies allegations of torture, the cases in the courts are unreasonably prolonged and softer punishments for the use of torture and ill-treatment applied, up to application of conditional criminal sentences. These factors lead to conditions of impunity and create conditions for widespread use of torture.
One of the key reasons for this impunity is the existing system for investigating the facts of torture. It does not provide a guarantee for the protection of victims of torture from procedural arbitrariness and subsequent protection against violations of substantive law. The lack of an effective investigation mechanism leads to a lack of adequate punishment and, accordingly, compensation.
The Coalition against Torture is actively involved in the implementation of the practice of investigating the facts of torture in accordance with international standards. What does it mean? The investigation of the facts of torture must be effective, independent, thorough and timely. During such investigations, victims of torture should be provided with access to basic procedural safeguards, legal assistance and a fair trial.
Investigations that comply with these principles can be a mechanism to prevent further violations of the law, encourage compliance with the rule of law and increase the level of public confidence in the law enforcement and judicial systems as well as public authorities at large. The mechanism of the investigation should contribute to the eradication of impunity, and therefore make the offenders accountable for their actions.
In order to promote effective investigation mechanisms in 2016, a substantial work has been done by the Prosecutor General’s Office of the KR and the Coalition. The Prosecutor General’s Office established a special department for the supervision of the observance of the rights of citizens in the pre-trial stage of the criminal process, a methodical manual on tactics and methods for countering torture and its investigation was developed and introduced into the curriculum of the Prosecutors’ Training Center.
Strategic litigations mean the method by which one can fight for human rights. Such litigations allow achieving lasting changes in judicial practice or law. The Coalition against Torture, realizing the importance and effectiveness of strategic litigations in the fight against torture, illegal detentions, imprisonment, ineffective documentation and investigation of cases of torture, initiated four court cases.
After the initiation of these litigations more than one year has passed. The proceedings are delayed and postponed by the courts because of the absence of defendants at court hearings, represented by state bodies (the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Prosecutor’s Office). The reasons for such refusals, according to lawyers, are violation of the principles of impartiality and independence of judges. Lawyers noted some cases when judges call lawyers asking them to withdraw their claims because the judge does not know how to consider such claims or cannot consider such claims, where the respondent is a state body. The reasons for such refusals, according to lawyers, are violation of the principles of impartiality and independence of judges.