Astana, April 27, 2018. Today there was an international conference on "Towards a society without torture: a review of practices and next steps" in Astana. The event was organized on the initiative of the General Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Kazakhstan with the assistance of the European Union project "Improving Criminal Justice in Kazakhstan".
Representatives of the Constitutional Council, deputies of the Parliament, representatives of the Supreme Court and central law enforcement bodies, scientists and lawyers' community, non-governmental organizations, international and national experts took part in the work.
They noted that since the ratification of the Convention against Torture by Kazakhstan in 1998, a number of effective measures have been taken in the country. In particular, the main elements of international acts have been implemented into national legislation, torture has been singled out in a separate article of the Criminal Code, alternative investigative jurisdiction has been introduced in the investigation of this category of cases, criminal liability has been strengthened, independent monitoring institutes have been introduced and etc.
Annually in Kazakhstan about 700 legal claims on torture and violence are registered. Over the past four years, 86 officials have been convicted of torture.
In order to comprehensively address the problems of torture and ill-treatment in the criminal justice field, the General Prosecutor's Office initiated a project "Towards a society without torture" in 2017.
The Project takes into account the best world experience in the fight against torture, the standards and recommendations of the relevant UN Committees, as well as the specifics of the national legal system and legislation. The project is planned to be implemented until 2019.
At present, the General Prosecutor’s Office has drafted a bill on new steps to improve the effectiveness of the prevention of torture. It proposes to introduce a ban on the exemption from criminal responsibility of persons who committed torture in connection with reconciliation with the victim and active repentance.
They also noted that in order to prevent torture, colony equipment is being equipped with video cameras, as well as providing their employees with DVRs.
A new achievement in strengthening guarantees for the protection of citizens at the pre-trial stage was the adoption of the law on the modernization of the criminal process in December last year. The law shortened the terms of detention of persons from 72 to 48 hours, incl. minors up to 24 hours, the boundaries of judicial control in the pre-trial stage have been extended, the court has been given the right to authorize the investigative actions.
Equally important in ensuring the citizens’ rights is the adoption of the Law on the Victim Compensation Fund, which determined the basis for payment of monetary compensation to victims of torture.
In order to prevent torture at the pre-trial investigation stage, law enforcement agencies created 490 special transparent cabinets for interrogations equipped with video cameras. Relatives of the interrogated persons in real time can observe the interrogation in specially designated places.
These measures helped to reduce by a quarter (from 38 to 27 thousand) the number of complaints against actions and decisions of law enforcement agencies, twice the illegal methods of investigation (from 4.7 to 2.6 thousand) and unreasonable delivery of citizens (from 112 to 54 ).
To improve the quality of the investigation of criminal cases of torture on the instructions of the Prosecutor General Kairat Kozhamzharov, the Academy of Law Enforcement has developed a methodology for investigating allegations of torture on the basis of the Istanbul Protocol, which is sent to all law enforcement agencies and specialized universities for study and application in practice
In February and April of the current year the state of legality in the criminal and penal system of the country, incl. measures to combat torture were considered at the meetings of the Coordination Council and the expanded board of the Office, where the Prosecutor General set specific tasks to ensure "zero tolerance" for torture and violence
In the course of the conference, the participants of the event agreed that this work is carried out by the interested bodies consistently with a reference to international standards in the field of protecting human rights and freedoms.
Press Service of the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Kazakhstan