Kyrgyzstan: A tarnished human rights record
Under the leadership of President Askar Akayev, Kyrgyzstan has enjoyed a reputation for having an open and democratic society. However, within the past two years there has been increasing concern at evidence of a worsening record of respect for human rights. There have been several recent cases of violations of freedom of expression, where people have been prosecuted for defamation of state officials. There is concern at the increasing use of the death penalty, and allegations of torture and ill-treatment in police custody. There is also concern at activities authorized by so-called "elders' courts", which do not satisfy the requirements of international standards for fair trials. Punishments reportedly handed down by such courts, administered by unofficial militias, have allegedly included illegal detention, ill-treatment, corporal and even capital punishment.