The Civic Solidarity Platform's Working Group on the Fight Against Torture presents its second Index on Torture

Июн 29.2021

The Civic Solidarity Platform's Working Group on the Fight Against Torture presents its second Index on Torture

In 2020, the Working Group developed the Index and conducted the first pilot measurement in 8 countries of the OSCE region. The Index was calculated for each country based on a series of measurements reflecting the State's performance in areas such as torture response mechanism, judicial review, anti-torture provisions in domestic legislation, procedural guarantees designed to prevent the use of torture, torture prevention mechanisms and methods available in the country and the State's adherence to international standards on the prohibition of torture.

Following the pilot measurement, the Working Group held a series of consultations to review the Index parameters for a more comprehensive approach to assessing the situation in each country. As a result, a number of methodological adjustments were made, e.g. certain indicators were added or refined and criteria were balanced to reflect both the regulatory framework and the law enforcement practice. In addition to this, a new section was added in which the effectiveness of torture investigation is assessed based on surveys of relevant experts, such as lawyers, prosecutors, judges, criminal investigators and human rights defenders.

Here, we present the 2020 Index measurement results from eight countries of the OSCE region: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Poland, Russia, and Ukraine.

                        2020               2019

Belarus           -70.1               -94.2

Russia             -27.97             0.81

Kyrgyzstan    23.08              9.45

Kazakhstan    27.25              -3.04

Poland           82.67              -

Armenia         104                 93.77

Moldova         122.21           121.26

Ukraine          161.1              107.83

It is worth mentioning a significant increase in the Index value for certain countries. The first and most obvious reason for such increase is the review of the Index, which included reformulation of certain parameters and introduction of new ones. In particular, according to Belarusian experts, the updated definitions make certain indicators more flexible and allow the researchers to address both the positive and negative aspects of relevant laws and enforcement practices and thus to acknowledge useful legal provisions as well as omissions; in particular, the experts attribute the country's higher Index score with the review and addition of indicators in the sections on the investigating authority and torture criminalization in Belarusian law: while the Criminal Code does not explicitly prohibit torture, the Constitution contains a definition and a prohibition of torture which are in line with the international standards; however, there is no punishment for the use of torture. The significant growth of the Index for Kazakhstan was primarily due to a change in the situation with the openness of data on the number of torture complaints. For 2019 Index the experts noted the absence of such data, for current Index they indicated that the data can be provided upon request to state bodies.

Second, certain countries have reported substantive changes in the situation with the prohibition of torture. For example, according to Ukrainian experts, the country's law enforcement agencies have recently focused more on the proper recording, use, storage and access to CCTV footage and on the procedural safeguards granted to detainees – such as allowing a phone call to relatives, informing Centers of free legal aid and when placed in temporary detention facilities asking about any health complaints – where detainees report health problems, the police call  ambulance to decide whether further detention or hospitalization is possible. This was facilitated by the activities of the National Preventive Mechanism and the newly created special department for combating torture in the structure of the Office of the Prosecutor General, which over the past year has realized the problem and strengthened the mechanism for responding and prosecuting those responsible for the facts of torture.

Russia is the only country which saw a drop in its Index score by almost 30 points since the previous year. The change happened because of the clarification of parameters in the Judicial Review and National Regulations/Criminalization sections.  While back in 2019, at least some statistics on sentencing were available upon request to human rights defenders, currently, the authorities either refuse to provide such statistics or give meaningless and formalistic responses instead. Thus, the introduction of additional indicators to measure effective protection and safety of torture victims caused Russia's aggregated Criminalization indicator to drop significantly. This means that although Russian law does contain criminal sanctions for torture, its victims are poorly protected from pressure, abuse and retaliation in the form of prosecution for allegedly false accusations, while domestic courts refuse to properly address such situations.

The overall distribution of the Index scores across countries remains similar to the one reported in the previous year. Moldova left the position of the leader in the Index. For several refined indicators, in particular, the provision of procedural guarantees, the indicator of this country has increased, but then in the section concerning the provision of video recording and the availability of publicly accessible information on the regulation of video surveillance, Moldova dropped to the second place, since the country does not have publicly available information on regulating the use of video monitoring.

Just as before, the main challenge faced by human rights defenders in compiling the Index is a lack of comprehensive, clear and regularly updated information on these issues in the public domain, while attempts to obtain this information by sending inquiries to relevant authorities tend to be futile in a number of countries. For example, in Russia, no statistics were provided in official responses to such inquiries, while in Kazakhstan, the responses received from different departments contained different data on the same indicators.

Therefore, certain parameters of the Index for six countries were not included in the aggregated Index. More specifically:

  • No clear and coherent statistics is available on the number of torture complaints, criminal investigations opened, and torture cases brought to court in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Poland and Russia;
  • The workload faced by criminal investigators is impossible to estimate with any degree of accuracy in almost all countries covered by the Index, due primarily to the absence of data on the number of investigators working on torture cases. The only exceptions are Armenia (8-9 cases per investigator) and Ukraine (34 cases per investigator);
  • No clear and consistent information is available either in the public domain or upon request on the number of torture complaints, criminal cases initiated and criminal cases investigated and brought to court in Belarus, Kazakhstan, Poland and Russia. The lack of such information makes it impossible to assess how many torture investigations have been completed and whether the investigating body is competent to go ahead with the investigation where the victim does not report torture or withdraws the report.


Working Group members from the following eight countries contributed to the Index preparation:

Promo-LEX Association, Moldova

Association of Ukrainian Human Rights Monitors on Law Enforcement , Ukraine 

Helsinki Citizens' Assembly-Vanadzor, Armenia

Voice of Freedom, Kyrgyzstan

Committee against Torture, Russia

Human Rights Movement Bir Duino, Kyrgyzstan

Human Rights Center Viasna, Belarus

Kadir Kassiyet, Kazakhstan

Public Verdict Foundation, Russia

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Poland


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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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