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Experts urge more steps against enforced disappearance

GENEVA (28 June 2019) – “Kyrgyzstan is just a few steps away from ensuring a full protection from enforced disappearance and respect for the 1992 Declaration on the Protection of All Forms of Enforced Disappearances,” a delegation of the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances said today.

“We welcome that Kyrgyzstan has recently introduced a crime of enforced disappearance in the criminal legislation,” the experts said in a statement at the end of a five-day visit to the country. “While some elements of the definition could still be improved, it is remarkable that under this new provision a single act of enforced disappearance amounts to a crime against humanity.”

The experts said, however, there are still issues that could be improved for the prevention of and protection from enforced disappearances.

“It transpired from a number of stakeholders met during the visit that both legislation and practice in Kyrgyzstan do not comply with the principle of non-refoulement as enshrined in the Declaration. It is of outmost importance that the authorities ensure that a person be never expelled, returned or extradited to another State where there are substantial grounds to believe that she/he would be in danger of enforced disappearance,” the Working Group said.

As safeguards during the first hours of deprivation of liberty are essential to prevent possible abuses, including enforced disappearances, the experts welcomed new legislation requiring registration and notification of family members as soon as an individual is deprived of liberty, while stressing the importance of working to ensure that these provisions are systematically implemented.

“This is particularly important given information we received that there continue to be frequent cases of delays in registration and notification, in some instances in order to extract confessions, which may amount to short-term disappearances. All deprivations of liberty should be registered effectively and promptly from the moment of the first apprehension,” they said.

“A swift ratification of the International Convention on the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, which contains useful guidance for the States to build a more solid and robust legal and institutional framework, would help Kyrgyzstan to overcome these gaps.”

During the visit from 25 to 28 June, the delegation travelled to Bishkek and Osh. They met with Government officials, lawyers and representatives of civil society organisations.

The Group welcomed the Kyrgyz Republic’s openness to engage with the mandate and for organizing meetings with nearly all requested authorities.

A final report on the visits will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in September 2020.

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