UN torture prevention experts urge Kazakhstan to focus more on prisoner rehabilitation

UN torture prevention experts urge Kazakhstan to focus more on prisoner rehabilitation
The UN’s torture prevention body has urged Kazakhstan to focus more on the rehabilitation of prisoners rather than punishment, as part of efforts to protect people deprived of their liberty against torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

The call came at the end of the first visit to Kazakhstan by the Sub-Committee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT), when the delegation presented its confidential preliminary observations to the Kazakh authorities.

“We note that Kazakhstan has significantly reduced the number of people deprived of their liberty and improved conditions of detention, but the prison system continues to overemphasize restrictions and punishment, rather than reintegration and rehabilitation,” said Victor Zaharia, who headed the SPT delegation.

“We welcome the fact that we were granted prompt access to information and documents, as well as to places of detention where we were able to conduct private interviews with persons deprived of liberty,” Mr Zaharia said.

The SPT, which visited Kazakhstan from 20 -29 September, highlighted the importance of granting similar access to the national independent monitoring body, known as a National Preventive Mechanism (NPM).

“Full access to all places where people are or might be deprived of their liberty is key to the effectiveness of the NPM, and hence preventing the torture or ill-treatment of detainees,” Mr. Zaharia added.

Among the places the experts visited during their 10 days in Kazakhstan were prisons, prison camps, remand centres, police stations, guardhouses, correctional rehabilitation centres, psychiatric and forensic institutions and other detention facilities.

Members of the delegation carried out private and confidential interviews with law enforcement officials, medical staff and persons deprived of their liberty. The SPT delegation also met government officials and representatives of civil society, and held discussions with the Human Rights Commissioner of the Republic of Kazakhstan, which the Government has designated as a National Preventive Mechanism.

Following the visit, the SPT will submit a confidential report to the Government of Kazakhstan, containing its observations and recommendations on prevention of torture and ill-treatment of persons deprived of their liberty. As with all other States, the SPT is encouraging Kazakhstan to make this report public.

The SPT delegation was composed of Victor Zaharia (Head of Delegation), Arman Danielyan, Marija Definis-Gojanovich and Paul Lam Shang Leen.

ENDS

For media inquiries and additional information, please contact Armen Avetisyan: +41 22 917 9227/ aavetisyan@ohchr.org or Liz Throssell +41 22 917 9466 / ethrossell@ohchr.org.

Background:

The Optional Protocol on the Prevention of Torture has, to date, been ratified by 82 countries. The SPT communicates its recommendations and observations to States by means of a confidential report and, if necessary, to National Preventive Mechanisms. However, States parties are encouraged to request that the SPT makes these reports public.

The SPT is composed of 25 independent and impartial experts from different regions of the world. For more information on the mandate of Subcommittee, please visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/OPCAT/Pages/OPCATIndex.aspx

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