Every 5 years, Kyrgyzstan submits its National Report for the UPR to the UN member states, in which it reports on achievements and challenges in different areas in terms of respect to human rights.
The final event was held on 20 January 2020 - the State delegation of Kyrgyzstan submitted its National Report as part of the 35th session of the UPR Working Group. The delegation included representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Labor and Social Development, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Supreme Court, Prosecutor General’s Office, the Human Rights Council under the government of the KR, and the Permanent Representative of the Kyrgyz Republic to the UN in Geneva. During the interactive dialogue, 89 UN member states submitted 232 recommendations on identified areas to address existing problems and strengthen the State’s capacity in the field of human rights.
The State delegation takes the floor: the State abides by its commitments
The head of the delegation, First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kyrgyz Republic, Nuran Niyazaliev stated that the report was prepared with the support of civil society and OHCHR and added that the country had “a strong and active civil society with which the government has established constructive and useful interaction”. The State fully abides by its obligations. Kyrgyzstan has acceded to the 8 core UN international human rights treaties and regularly reports on their implementation.
He mentioned "the steady development of the level of freedom of speech and the media in Kyrgyzstan". One of the important achievements of the country is the adoption of new codes for the purposes of humanization and decriminalization. There is an active Business Ombudsman in the country. Kyrgyzstan is a member of the Open Government Partnership.
The implementation of the Gender Equality Strategy has contributed to the advancement of women in the economy and politics, social entrepreneurship is gaining momentum in the country. The plan to achieve gender equality for 2015-2017 has covered 70% of the recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and Girls, including measures to eliminate early marriage.
The Judge of the Supreme Court of the Kyrgyz Republic, Keneshbek Toktomambetov said that the country's national legislation established the appointment of judges in an open competition held by the Council for the Selection of Judges. Introduction of act.sot.kg portal is a positive development as well. Audio and video recording of the hearings has been introduced in 80 courtrooms out of 150, the software for the information system has been implemented - this has been done to automate judicial work.
The Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Development, Janyl Alybaeva, cited the following data: in 2019, 27 committees to prevent domestic violence were created at the local level, it is planned to create them in each rural district, and there are 453 such districts in the KR. There are 14 crisis centers in the country, and in 2020 it is planned to create two more crisis centers.
What the representatives of the State delegation did not speak about
In general, speakers representing the government agencies spoke about the results achieved in the field of human rights in the country. They didn’t focus on serious problems related to violations and facts of discrimination or touched upon them in a superficial manner.
The representatives of the delegation did not give an overview of the actual situation in the area of observance of every person’s right to freedom of peaceful assembly, which is closely linked to the right to freedom of speech. Only the norms of legislation guaranteeing the observance of the said rights were mentioned - the Constitution of the Kyrgyz Republic and the Law on Peaceful Assemblies adopted in 2012.
Human rights violations in Kyrgyzstan due to fighting against religious extremism, as well as the issues of prevention of torture remain relevant in Kyrgyzstan. Lack of clear definitions of terms leads to the fact that law enforcement agencies and judicial experts, while assessing the materials of the so-called "extremist nature", are guided by their personal beliefs and concepts. This practice leads to a broad interpretation of the legislation on countering extremist activity, which often results in violations of human rights.
Human rights activists stated that the problem of torture remains relevant. In particular, this concerns the lack of independent experts, the safety of witnesses and victims, as well as unreasonable prolongation of investigation of cases of torture for a long time. Cases of death of convicts in places of detention are not rare. This fact also indicates the problems with provision of medical care and the release of seriously ill persons from prison.
Recommendations to Kyrgyzstan
In the course of the interactive dialogue, 89 States voiced 232 recommendations to Kyrgyzstan. Each speaker had 1 minute and 15 seconds. All recommendations were based on the data of the alternative UPR submitted by the civil society of Kyrgyzstan in December with the active assistance of the HRM “Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan” PA. It was obvious that many representatives of different States showed a keen interest in the situation in Kyrgyzstan.
Austria and Denmark officially recognized the positive result of human rights protection, i.e. canceling the adoption of the draft Law on Foreign Agents by the Jogorku Kenesh. At the same time, it was stated to be important for the KR to adopt in the future the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court to further promote the rule of law.
The delegations of Finland, Iceland and Georgia gave a recommendation on the need for the Ombudsman institution to comply with the Paris principles. The delegation of Spain recommended that international norms prevail over national ones.
The representatives of the States expressed their concern about the situation in the area of the rights of women and girls and recommended to strengthen the efforts to ensure protection against domestic violence and prevent early and forced marriages. The representative of Algeria pointed out the need to work on reduction of child and maternal mortality by improving access to medical care. The representative of Afghanistan made a statement about the need for strict compliance with the UN Security Council Resolution No. 1325 regarding the role of women in maintaining peace and stability in society.
The States recommended Kyrgyzstan to ensure access to quality, multilingual and inclusive education, especially for children with disabilities and children affected by migration. They also recommended combating child labor more effectively.
Several States expressed their concern about the pressure on civil society through adoption of a law on foreign agents, which should not be allowed. The delegation of Armenia made a recommendation regarding the advisability of promoting public non-profit organizations in Kyrgyzstan and providing support to civil rights defenders.
Many States noted that Kyrgyzstan should step up its exercising the right to freedom of speech and expression, and protection of the media. They noted the existing pressure on investigative journalists and cases of filing multi-million dollar lawsuits against the media, stating it was unacceptable. France mentioned the importance of ensuring the protection and safety of journalists.
Brazil, Canada and Chile stated it was important to conduct thorough investigations, as well as strengthen measures to prevent torture. Objective recommendations were received from Belgium: to pay compensation to the victims of the tragic events of 2010, as well as create the necessary conditions for upholding the rights of minorities. Kyrgyzstan should pay attention to improving the conditions for people held in detention. Several States, in particular the United States, Finland and Ireland, reminded Kyrgyzstan that the human rights activist Azimzhan Askarov should be released from prison for humanitarian reasons (on health grounds).
The recommendation received from Fiji deserves special attention: to follow the principles of the international Sendai Framework in order to prevent global risks, emergencies, disasters and threats among local communities.
In their turn, Bulgaria, Egypt, Estonia, France, and Georgia emphasized the ratification by Kyrgyzstan of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. At the same time, the necessity was mentioned to further adhere to the norms of the specified regulatory legal act.
Also, there was a significant quantity of recommendations on the adoption of anti-discrimination legislation (including legislation on religious, gender, ethnic, sexual identity and LGBT). The Netherlands recommended the prohibition of discrimination at all levels. The delegation of Oman stressed the need to eradicate racial and religious discrimination.
The States recommended bringing national legislation in the field of combating extremism and terrorism in line with international standards. The delegation of Lithuania emphasized that strategies to prevent violent extremism should be based on international standards.
Quite often, the recommendation to adopt the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance was repeated. Portugal recommended to ratify the Global Compact for Migration.
At the end of the interactive dialogue, the head of the delegation, Nuran Niyazaliev stated that he could not immediately respond to all the recommendations, adding that he worked closely with international human rights institutions. “We are working to fill some gaps”, he said.
The UPR submission was an important event to further ensure the promotion, support and protection of human rights in practice.