Watchdog concerned at attacks on lawyers in Kyrgyzstan

15th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

The International Commission of Jurists voiced concern Friday at a series of attacks on lawyers in Kyrgyzstan, primarily those defending ethnic Uzbeks, which it urged the government to address.

The ICJ said the Kyrgyz government must "take urgent steps to ensure the security of lawyers, defendants and other participants in criminal proceedings" and urged it promptly investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice.

The attacks have been directed at ethnic Uzbek defendants in criminal trials related to the ethnic violence of June 2010, and at the lawyers who defend them.

Law enforcement agents have failed to intervene to stop the attacks, which have taken place both outside and inside court premises, said the ICJ in a statement.

"These acts of violence are particularly worrying as they are not isolated instances but have become a pattern, apparently tolerated by law enforcement agents.

"This has created an atmosphere of fear and impunity where the criminal justice system cannot operate fairly or effectively," said Wilder Tayler, secretary-general of the ICJ.

Incidents of violence this past week include a crowd attacking a defendant, his relatives and lawyers outside Osh City Court, and two lawyers being attacksed by people with metal sticks inside a military garrison building, said the ICJ.

The incidents must be seen in the broader context of widespread impunity for the perpetrators of acts of ethnic violence in June 2010 that amount to crimes under international law, it added.

It said it was a matter of concern that the investigations opened into the June violence are predominantly directed against ethnic Uzbeks.

The ICJ called for an independent international investigation in line with international standards, which considers abuses committed by all those involved in the conflict, without regard to ethnicity or nationality.

Hardline nationalists believed loyal to discredited ex-president Kurmanbek Bakiyev swept parliamentary polls six months after his ousting in the uprising.

© 2010 AFP

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