UN torture prevention body urges Kazakhstan to enhance prisoner rehabilitation

View of downtown Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan. Photo: World Bank/Shynar Jetpissova

3 October 2016 – The United Nations’ torture prevention body has urged Kazakhstan to focus more on the rehabilitation of prisoners rather than punishment, as part of efforts to ensure that people deprived of their liberty are protected against torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

“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 a first visit to the country by the Sub-Committee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT), in a news release.

According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) the SPT delegation presented its confidential preliminary observations to the Kazakh authorities at the end of the 20 -29 September visit. Among the places the experts visited were prisons, prison camps, remand centres, police stations, guardhouses, correctional rehabilitation centres, psychiatric and forensic institutions and other detention facilities.

“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 in the release.

Highlighting the importance of granting similar access to the national independent monitoring body, known as National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), he added that “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.”

SPT members carried out private and confidential interviews with law enforcement officials, medical staff and persons deprived of their liberty. The delegation also met Government officials and representatives of civil society, and held discussions with the country’s Human Rights Commissioner, who has been designated to function as a national preventive mechanism.

The SPT will submit a full report to the Government, 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 other members of the delegation were Arman Danielyan, Marija Definis-Gojanovich and Paul Lam Shang Leen.


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