Discussion of the EU Human Rights and Democracy Priorities for the EU Human Rights and Democracy Action Plan 2020-2024.

Мар 29.2021

29 March 2021

Bishkek, the Kyrgyz Republic


Discussion of the EU Human Rights and Democracy Priorities for the EU Human Rights and Democracy Action Plan 2020-2024. 

The team and solidarity networks from the local Communities to the global human rights movement Bir Duino-KR thank the European Union Delegation to the Kyrgyz Republic for the invitation and opportunity to discuss the priorities of the EU Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024.

As we know, on 25 March 2020, with this Action Plan the Council confirms the strong commitment of the European Union to continue promoting universal values for all. Respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights will continue to underpin all aspects of the European Union's internal and external policies.

The new Human Rights and Democracy Action Plan 2020-2024 sets out key priorities for concrete action over the next five years in the field of external relations

Bir Duino and partners welcome and support that the EU and its Member States will use the full range of their instruments in all areas of external action to focus and further strengthen the EU's global leadership on the following overarching priorities: how to protect and empower people; create resilient, inclusive environments and democratic societies; promote a global human rights and democracy system; seize opportunities and address the challenges posed by new technologies; and pursue

The EU and its Member States will promote the full enjoyment of human rights, gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls as a priority in all fields of action.

An independent civil society, an enabling civic space and the support and protection of human rights defenders are essential elements for achieving these goals. priorities.


Unfortunately, in the Kyrgyz Republic all the priorities of the EU Action Plan are at risk.

1.Risks, threats and disasters in risk areas where vulnerable groups of citizens live

In Kyrgyzstan, the EU development programmes and first of all the projects aimed at the reclamation of uranium tailings (there are more than 92 of them all over the country, the most dangerous one is Mailuu Suu, included in the ten most dangerous places in Myanmar), have shown low efficiency and isolation from the real needs and requirements of the local communities, when their inhabitants are not aware of them and have no opportunity to study the documents due to the lack of access to information in their native languages.

The representatives of the CS, included in the various National Working Groups (on HR, on protection of rights of women and vulnerable groups) of the national projects, supported by international donors, are located in the central towns and do not work with the people on the ground.   



Within the framework of the grant project funding it is important to start localization of projects from local to national level, as the former practice reinforces gaps in socio-economic development of large cities and regions.  Implementation of new innovative approaches to promoting local communities, localization of EU projects, will allow to bring the voices of regions from local to global level, contributing to the reforms from the bottom up.

EU needs to raise the level of awareness of local communities in the regions about the work of the EU on socio-economic, political issues, using IT technologies;

Development programmes and projects should be primarily focused on cooperation with regions, the design and implementation of which should involve experts and representatives of local communities to make them effective and transparent.  


Business and Human Rights

Why are the effects of mining destroying nature, mountains, lakes, affecting especially the rights of women, youth and vulnerable groups? Why do people leave their homes, adding to the number of refugees and increasing the number of spontaneous migrants?

The lack of respect for human rights and freedoms by business exacerbates gaps and causes citizens to distrust the principles of good governance, as they see the growth of transnational corruption, impunity of officials, and their disregard for the values of democracy, human rights and freedoms in most UN member states.

The increased influence of business has provoked a debate about the role and responsibility of these actors with respect to human rights and has led to the inclusion of the issue of business and human rights on the UN agenda. The Special Representative developed the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, which were unanimously endorsed by the Human Rights Council in June 2011.

The Guiding Principles set, for the first time, a universal standard aimed at preventing and eradicating the threat of adverse corporate impacts on human rights, and continue to be an internationally recognized framework for advancing business and human rights standards and practices. For marginalized groups within indigenous and minority communities, such as people with disabilities, additional important questions arise, such as whether websites are accessible and compatible with assistive technology. It is important to localize them to a community level with women's and human rights organizations


2. Human rights defenders in the Kyrgyz Republic, bloggers, journalists are in danger

In 2008, the European Union Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders were adopted, but so far, its implementation in Kyrgyzstan had a formal character, in critical cases of threats and persecution, human rights defenders were left alone, without real support and protection from the EU.

Human rights activist Azimzhan Askarov, not waiting for freedom and justice, without access to adequate medical care died in prison.

To date, the authorities have not provided a credible conclusion about the causes of his death and have not tried to return to the UN Human Rights Committee's Views on the case of the famous prisoner of conscience Azimjan Askarov (after his death), although the human rights activist, his wife Khadicha Askarov and her lawyers Bir Duino demand the restoration of justice.


 Considerations of the UN Committee on other victims of torture are not implemented by the Government of KR.

Reforms of closed and special institutions where vulnerable groups of prisoners are held are still ignored, including threats of the third wave of the pandemic. The head of the UN, Mr. Guttkres, has repeatedly called on the heads of UN member states to treat the prison population through humane instruments, using the Mandela principles by releasing or providing alternatives for categories of seriously ill prisoners, women with children, juveniles, the elderly and persons with disabilities.


 A new joint efforts to promote the gender dimension and gender equality through independent media

The negotiated EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024 was adopted during the COVID-19 period, but included strategic actions to prevent the risks of human rights violations and the narrowing of political space due to the influence of religious fundamentalism.

The pandemic has exposed the world to systemic unresolved problems, especially in transit countries like Kyrgyzstan, which is adjacent to China and Central Asian countries. More than ever, women, young people and vulnerable groups of citizens have felt, from the family to the global level, new challenges, risks and threats.

A key threat is the rise of religious fundamentalism on the deterioration of the rights of women, youth, and vulnerable citizen groups, especially ethnic groups.

Using religion or culture as an excuse, conservative groups promote reactionary laws and traditional practices that worsen the situation of women and contribute to the avoidance of punishment for criminals.

Ethnic and religious minorities, as well as the LGBTI community, are the primary targets of conservative groups. As conservatives and nationalists deepen their influence, states become more authoritarian, militarism grows in scope and depth, threatening and attacking those who oppose discriminatory practices, deliberately reducing opportunities for dissenting voices. Fundamentalist belief systems are based on a denial of the principles of equality and universality of human rights that are essential to the realization of women's cultural rights, making the unwavering defense of these principles the touchstone of a gender-responsive human rights response.

This is a real threat to security, peace and sustainable development, as there is a growing threat of the destruction of the architecture of the UN Declaration on Human Rights, infringing on the right of citizens to Freedom of Association and Association. This is the basis of the failures of many countries to implement the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

This is a unique time to increase the responsibility of UN member states to implement the UN, EU and OSCE Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders, with a key focus on supporting and protecting women human rights defenders on the ground.



- The EU should actively use GSP+ leverage against countries that violate human rights, restrict the political space of NGOs, independent trade unions and journalists, human rights defenders, especially women human rights defenders;

- Supplement the presented Action Plan, or adopt a complementary document, reflecting a strategy, on EU leverage mechanisms to prevent violations of human rights, especially the rights of minorities and vulnerable groups, to stop the narrowing of political space, given the new risks and challenges posed by the pandemic

- Use existing mechanisms of engagement with the states to ensure the effectiveness and transparency of government and other public bodies in using foreign aid, donations to combat coronavirus and other crises in the future

- The EU to work with states to develop contingency plans for the emergency release of prisoners in line with the N. Mandela principles and to prevent the spread of CV-19 in closed institutions;

- The EU to promote UN and international recommendations during the coronavirus pandemic to reduce the number of prisoners and other detainees through early, provisional or temporary release of those for whom it is safe to do so;

- Work with governments to prevent forced vaccination, especially in closed, child and psychiatric institutions, including vaccination against coronavirus, which could otherwise amount to torture and ill-treatment; work with states to ensure that monitoring bodies (external inspections) and human rights defenders have access to prisons to prevent human rights abuses in closed institutions;

- To promote new and effective programs and tools to prevent gender-based and domestic violence against women and children during the pandemic and possible future crises and quarantines; gender equality or the gender dimension should be promoted with the participation and extensive reporting by independent media.

- During a pandemic, attention to respect for human rights in combating extremism and terrorism to avoid restricting the rights and persecution of religious citizens; activists and bloggers

- Pandemics and quarantines should not be used by governments as a mechanism to limit the freedom of expression and activities of independent journalists and media outlets

- Pandemics and quarantines must not be used by states to restrict the activities of human rights institutions and human rights defenders, in particular to conduct monitoring, preventive visits to closed institutions to prevent human rights violations;

- EU local representations should systematically engage and meet with civil society and government representatives to discuss and promote the protection of human rights defenders and the adaptation of the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders in countries such as the Kyrgyz Republic

- Localise EU programming from local to global, through gender equality, involving independent media outlets

- Implement the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, unanimously endorsed by the Human Rights Council in June 2011, from community to global level

- Bring the status and role of the Ombudsman Institution of the KR National Centre for the Prevention of Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in line with the international Paris Principles


The Human Rights Movement “Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan” team

Email: birduinokyrgyzstan@gmail.com


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Feedback from our focus groups



Experience should be attached to a law degree

Shakhboz Latipov, 24 y.o., young lawyer: “When I came to BDK for an internship, I had no experience in legal and human rights activities. Together with experienced senior colleagues, I began to attend trials, studied documents. Gradually my supervisor Khusanbai Saliev began to trust me the preparation of documents, carefully checked them and gave practical advice. Experience comes with time and cases you work on. Every day dozens of people who need help come to us, many of them are from socially vulnerable groups: the poor, large families, elderly citizens. A lawyer in a human rights organization sometimes acts as a psychologist, it is important for him to be able to maintain professionalism and show empathy. At the end of 2019, I successfully passed the exam to get the right to start working as attorney and now I work on cases as an attorney. I turn to my colleagues for help on complex issues, they always give me their advice. This is one of the strengths of the organization: there is support and understanding here.”



Organization unites regions

Feruza Amadalieva, social worker, leader, teacher: “TOT from BDK is a great opportunity to get acquainted with participants from different regions, we continue to communicate on social media and when we meet at events, as close friends, we have such warm relations! At the events, I improved my knowledge, systematized it, clarified how to apply it in practice. I really like the training modules and the way the system of training and practice is built: role-playing games, theory, discussions. Each person expresses himself/herself. I have become a leader for other vulnerable women, I try to help them and engage them in such events.” Feruza Amadalieva is a regular participant of many BDK events, she invites the BDK lawyers to provide legal advice to vulnerable women.



I became confident

In summer of 2019, Nuriza Talantbek kyzy took an active part in conducting regional screenings of documentaries, helped with organizational issues during the campaign dedicated to the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, participated in trips, and did the TOT on women's leadership. She used to be a migrant, worked for an NGO in Osh, and now works in Bishkek in the service industry. She calls her participation in the TOT “an invaluable experience”: “I first attended such an event, and received exactly the information that I needed, for which I am sincerely grateful to the facilitators. I experienced very difficult issues in my life, and thanks to that knowledge, I was able to overcome them, I persevered! After the TOT, I became more confident, began to better understand the essence of human rights, and learned to defend my interests.”



The defendant has passed away. The work on his rehabilitation continues.

The case of Shukurullo Kochkarov shows that work on complex cases continues for many years. After the torture he was subjected to in 2010, he became disabled. We managed to get acquittal on one of the charges; the work is ongoing on achieving his rehabilitation and recognition as a victim of torture in order for compensation to be paid. Trials continue without Shukurullo Kochkarov - he died on 2 August 2019. His interests are represented by his father, Saidaziz Kochkarov, who also has a visual disability. “For many years, we have been supported by the employees of BDK, they have been handling the case of my son, they brought him to court because he couldn’t walk on his own, they constantly help our family: my wife and I underwent rehabilitation, they have helped my son by providing him with medicines, they provide all kinds of help”.



Comprehensive support for victims of torture

Resident of the Kara-Suu district, Dilyor Jumabaev, has extensive experience in dealing with law enforcement agencies. In 2010, he was accused of possessing firearms, and thanks to the work of lawyers, he was acquitted. Two years later, his house was first searched in order to find materials of an extremist nature, but nothing was found. In 2014, he was accused of possessing extremist materials. In court, the prosecutor requested 15 years in prison; the court sentenced him to 6 years. A few years later he was released on parole. “I am grateful to the lawyers of BDK for their expert legal assistance. I participated in a rehabilitation program for victims of torture. When I encounter violations, I recommend contacting this organization.”


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