Human rights in Kyrgyzstan

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Human rights in Kyrgyzstan improved greatly after the ouster of President Askar Akayev in the 2005 Tulip Revolution and the installment of a more democratic government under Roza Otunbayeva.[citation needed]

The country now faces political uncertainty as it attempts to sustain a democratic system. Corruption and instability continue to be noted, however.

Formerly a republic of the Soviet Union, Kyrgyzstan became independent in 1991. Remaining reasonably stable throughout most of the 1990s, the country's young democracy showed relative promise under the leadership of Akayev, but moved towards autocracy and authoritarianism by the early 2000s, achieving a 5.5 rating from Freedom House in 2000.

In 2004, prior to the democratic revolution, Kyrgyzstan was rated by Freedom House as "Not Free," with a 6 in Political Rights and 5 in Civil Liberties (scale of 1-7; 1 is the highest). This indicated marked regression, from a 4.3 rating ten years earlier in 1994. Although the 1993 Constitution defines the Kyrgyz Republic as a democratic republic, President Askar Akayev continued to dominate the government. Serious irregularities reportedly marred 2003 a national constitutional referendum as well as presidential and parliamentary elections in 2000.


On September 14, 2001 the Kyrgyz Ministry of Interior declared it had implemented "passport control regime" against "pro-Islamic" activists in the southern part of Kyrgyzstan. Following the reelection of President Askar Akayev in 2003, the government reportedly "intensified" harassment of political opposition members, independent news media groups, religious groups and ethnic minorities, according to Human Rights Watch. [1] In advance of elections in February 2005, the Akayev government reportedly increased political restrictions on Kyrgyz citizens, in order, according to some outside observers, to prevent a "democratic revolution" like the recent one in Ukraine. [2] [3]

Human rights under Akayev's regime in 2004 reportedly remained poor; although there were improvements in several areas, problems remained. Citizens' right to change their government remained limited and democratic institutions remained fragile. Members of the security forces at times beat or otherwise mistreated persons, and prison conditions remained poor. Impunity remained a problem, although the Government took steps to address it during the year. There were cases of arbitrary arrest or detention. Executive branch domination of the judiciary as well as corruption limited citizens' right to due process.

The Government occasionally restricted freedom of speech and of the press, and individuals and companies close to the Government used financial means to control numerous media outlets. The Government used bureaucratic means to harass and pressure some independent media as well as non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Although human rights groups were generally allowed to work freely, and a government Ombudsman's Office continued to work actively to advocate for individual rights, the Government continued to occasionally harass and pressure some groups. Violence against women and children was a problem. Child labor and discrimination against ethnic minorities were problems. Trafficking in persons was a persistent problem.

In 2004 the government's human rights record showed improvement in some areas. Prison conditions remained poor but continued to improve during the year. Numerous MVD officials were dismissed or prosecuted for abuses or misconduct. Harassment of opposition groups and independent media, including honor and dignity lawsuits against newspapers, declined considerably, and the Government allowed several independent media outlets to begin operations. Although the Government occasionally restricted freedoms of assembly and association, in October, the Constitutional Court struck down provisions of the law on public assembly that were widely considered vague and too restrictive, while the number of demonstrations disrupted by police declined considerably.

A new Electoral Code signed into law in January was a significant improvement over the previous code and was welcomed by domestic NGOs and opposition parties, although it still fell short of international standards. Citizens' right to choose their government showed some improvement through local elections held in October, which were widely seen as more transparent. The Government took steps to combat trafficking in persons, with prosecutions and convictions of traffickers up significantly from 2003. There has also been a long history of drug-trafficking in the country. This country has the death penalty for drug trafficking.

Andijan incident[edit]

In June 2005, Kyrgyz officials said that 29 Uzbek refugees who had fled to Kyrgyzstan in the wake of the Andijan massacre would be returned to Uzbekistan.[4]

The United Nations and human rights groups criticized this decision, stating the refugees faced possible torture or execution upon their return. However, on June 27, the 439 Uzbek refugees were airlifted to safety out of the country by the UN.[5]

Recent developments[edit]

A move to restrict freedom of assembly - the Law on the Right of Citizens to Hold Peaceful Assemblies 2002, adopted on June 13, 2008 by the government but yet to be signed by the President, was criticized by Human Rights Watch. The law, if implemented, would go against two rulings by the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan, stating that the law is against the constitution.[1]

In a move that alarmed human rights groups, dozens of prominent Uzbek religious and community leaders were arrested by security forces following the 2010 South Kyrgyzstan riots, including journalist and human rights activist Azimzhan Askarov.[2] Following a trial criticized by several international human rights organizations, Askarov was given a life sentence charges including creating mass disturbances, incitement of ethnic hatred, and complicity in murder.[3] Various human rights organizations stated that they believe the charges against him and his co-defendants to be politically motivated.[4] Amnesty International considers Askarov a prisoner of conscience and is currently campaigning for his immediate release and an investigation into his allegations of torture by law enforcement.[5]

On May 18, 2011, the Kadamjay Regional Court sentenced two young men, Iskandar Kambarov (18 years old) and Jonibek Nosirov (22 years old) to seven years in prison on the charge of possessing two DVDs of an extremist Islamic organization. The two men are not Islamic but Jehovah’s Witnesses. They have been held in police custody since their arrest on January 29, 2011.

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