Demonstrators protested at corruption and accused the state of collusion with organized crime. Edil Baisalov, leader of a human rights organization and member of the For Reforms opposition coalition, was attacked by an unidentified assailant in April, days after he had helped organize a demonstration protesting at the election of Rysbek Akmatbaev, a suspected criminal leader, to his late brother's parliamentary seat. Rysbek Akmatbaev was later killed by unidentified gunmen in May.
Following tensions between parliament and government over constitutional reform, protesters at a week-long For Reforms demonstration in Bishkek in November called for the resignation of the President and Prime Minister. A new Constitution drafted by both sides was adopted by parliament and signed into law in November.
The new Constitution abolished the death penalty. Repeal of death penalty provisions in the criminal code was still pending at the end of 2006. A 1998 moratorium on executions was extended.
Deaths in suspicious circumstances
There were no investigations into the circumstances surrounding killings by the security forces during counter-terrorism operations.
Five people were killed during a July counter-terrorism operation in Jalalabad by the security police (SNB). The SNB alleged they were members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) armed opposition group and the Islamic Hizb-ut-Tahrir political party, both banned.
Independent Kyrgyzstani imam Muhammadrafik Kamalov from Kara-Suu was shot and killed by security forces in August. Killed with him were two suspected IMU members accused of an armed raid on the border with Tajikistan in May in which at least a dozen security officers and armed men died. In October three men were sentenced to death for their part in the raid. The SNB initially accused imam Kamalov of being an IMU member, and then suggested that he could have been used as a human shield. His death and burial sparked peaceful demonstrations in Kara-Suu.
In September an Uzbekistani national suspected of being an IMU leader was reportedly shot and fatally wounded by SNB officers when he refused to surrender. SNB sources said his wounds were not fatal and that he had died of heart failure in hospital. The SNB had linked him to the May border incident and to the death of imam Kamalov.
Refugees from Uzbekistan at risk
Of more than 500 asylum-seekers who fled Andizhan in Uzbekistan in May 2005 when security forces fired on mainly unarmed demonstrators, killing hundreds of people, five were extradited to Uzbekistan, many were detained, and a number appeared to have been subjected to enforced disappearance.
In August the authorities extradited four refugees and one asylum-seeker to Uzbekistan without giving advance notice to UNHCR, the UN refugee agency. The four refugees, detained in Kyrgyzstan since June 2005, had been recognized as refugees by UNHCR, but lost appeals against the Kyrgyzstani authorities' decision not to recognize their refugee status in June. Uzbekistani asylum-seeker Faez Tadzhikalilov, detained since September 2005, was still awaiting the outcome of a government review of his asylum application when he was extradited. In Uzbekistan, the five were reportedly held incommunicado and charged in November with the murder in May 2005 of the Andizhan city prosecutor.
Uzbekistani nationals in hiding in Kyrgyzstan were reportedly among hundreds of people arbitrarily detained by Kyrgyzstani and Uzbekistani security forces.
Gulmira Maksudova was arrested in July and charged with terrorism and counterfeiting documents. She is a daughter of Akram Yuldashev, the alleged leader of the Akramia opposition group imprisoned since 1998, who has been accused of masterminding the Andizhan events from prison. In September, Osh regional court acquitted her and ordered her release after it found no evidence of terrorism.
In August, UNHCR and human rights organizations expressed concern at the apparent enforced disappearance of Uzbekistani refugees and asylum-seekers in south Kyrgyzstan. At least two were subsequently reported to be in pre-trial detention in Andizhan in Uzbekistan.
UNHCR said Kyrgyzstani officials had failed to respond to inquiries about the enforced disappearance of at least five named Uzbekistani refugees, among them a secular democratic opposition activist reportedly abducted in July by Uzbekistani security services. Because the safety of the refugees could not be guaranteed in Osh, UNHCR moved all registered refugees to Bishkek with a view to resettling them permanently in a third country.
Excessive force and torture
In August special troops were sent in to a temporary detention facility in Jalalabad after riots reportedly broke out following a violent altercation between an inmate and a guard. Officials subsequently admitted that officers had kicked, punched and beaten detainees with batons. Detainees told human rights activists that they had been beaten by up to seven officers while handcuffed and made to wear gas masks with the air supply turned off. They said beatings and torture were routine in the severely overcrowded facility, and that they had no bedding, sanitation or exercise and inadequate ventilation. No officers responsible for torture or other ill-treatment were brought to justice.
According to detainees, in July a senior official at the facility severely beat a female detainee with mental problems to force her to reveal her husband's whereabouts. Her husband, a suspected IMU member, gave himself up to prevent further ill-treatment of his wife. Reportedly, the woman subsequently had a miscarriage, and was transferred to a psychiatric hospital.
In June, two human rights organizations, Spravedlivost (Justice) and Vozdukh (Breath of Air), complained of harassment by regional law enforcement officers after they took up the cases of two women allegedly tortured in police custody.
In January a pregnant witness in a theft case was reportedly hit and threatened and called a prostitute while being questioned by a Department of Internal Affairs officer. The woman was subsequently hospitalized for 10 days for a threatened miscarriage. She complained to the regional prosecutor's office, but no action was taken. When Spravedlivost publicized her allegations in February, the officer filed a criminal suit for defamation against both. The defamation trial, which started in June, was postponed when the witness became ill. She had been insulted and threatened in court by the officer's supporters. The trial resumed in November.
In June, Internal Affairs officers reportedly beat a woman arrested at her home in Bazar-Kurgan. Her family were denied access to her in detention. Detained twice before, in 2003 and 2005, she had previously alleged torture, including repeated rape, in custody. Azimzhan Askarov, an activist with the Vozdukh human rights organization which took up her case, was reportedly threatened with criminal defamation charges by an officer accused by the woman of beating her and inserting needles under her fingernails in 2005. The district prosecutor said that Azimzhan Askarov's articles incited social, racial or ethnic hatred and that his office would in future censor them before publication. In July the woman was sentenced to five years in prison for theft, subsequently suspended on appeal. She and her family were reported to be under pressure from Internal Affairs officers to withdraw the torture allegations. An appeal to the Supreme Court was pending at the end of 2006.
AI country reports/visits
Europe and Central Asia: Summary of Amnesty International's concerns in the region, January-June 2006 (AI Index: EUR 01/017/2006)
Commonwealth of Independent States: Positive trend on the abolition of the death penalty but more needs to be done (AI Index: EUR 04/003/2006)
AI delegates visited Kyrgyzstan in November.