Akmatov v. Kyrgyzstan

UN Human Rights Committee
Case Manager
Duru Yavan

UN Human Rights Committee finds Kyrgyzstan at Fault for Death following Police Beating

In May 2005, Turdubek Akmatov was taken to the local police station in Mirza-Aki Village, Kyrgyzstan, and detained for ten hours, during which he was interrogated and beaten before being released without charge. Akmatov returned to his family home late that evening, barely able to walk. He told his family that six policemen had beaten him while he was in custody. Shortly afterward, while sitting on a bench at the family home, Akmatov cried out and fell to the ground, bleeding profusely from his mouth, ears, and nose. He died a few hours later with severe internal injuries. The subsequent criminal investigation into his alleged torture and death was repeatedly stalled by authorities.. 

The Open Society Justice Initiative filed an individual complaint with the UN Human Rights Committee in April 2011 and after four years, in 2015, the Committee concluded that Kyrgyzstan had failed to meet its obligations under international law, and held the state responsible for violating Turdubek Akmatov’s rights to life and freedom from torture.  

As a result of the implementation efforts of the UN Human Rights Committee’s views, the family of Turdubek Akmatov received a judgment for monetary compensation in early May 2021. However, the compensation paid to the family was significantly lower than the amount requested and was not commensurate with the gravity of the violations, nor was a public apology provided to the family. In addition, the Kyrgyz government has, to date, failed to conduct an effective investigation of Akmatov’s torture and death, to introduce safeguards against torture and killings in detention, or to publish the Committee’s views, all of which the Committee had called for in its decision.


On the morning of May 3, 2005, police officers summoned Turdabek Akmatov from his family home and detained him at a police station in the Village of Mirza-Aki in Kyrgyzstan. The police held him for approximately ten hours and interrogated him about the alleged theft of doorframes. The police tortured Akmatov during this time. A group of at least six police officers beat him severely with blows to his head and body. The police released Akmatov at approximately 7:30 p.m., and he returned to his home in the evening on the same day, gravely injured. 

A few hours after his return from the police station, Akmatov died from his injuries. The autopsy and multiple forensic reviews concluded that he had suffered severe injuries to his head, chest, and abdomen that likely resulted from the force of blunt, heavy objects. In addition, an officer on duty at the police station during the period of detention confirmed that the police had beaten him during the interrogation. 

Yet, despite attempts by Akmatov’s family to pursue an investigation of the case, law enforcement authorities failed to conduct a prompt, impartial, independent, and effective criminal investigation. Although the Kyrgyz authorities agree that the police detained Akmatov and that he was healthy when they initially detained him, they have provided no evidence or plausible explanation for his injuries and death. As a result, no one has been held criminally responsible to date, and Akmatov’s family has not obtained adequate compensation for his wrongful death.

Open Society Justice Initiative Involvement

The Open Society Justice Initiative assisted a local lawyer representing Akmatov’s family in attempts to force an effective investigation and acted as co-counsel in the complaint to the UN Human Rights Committee. The Justice Initiative continued to act as counsel during the implementation phase before the Committee and has now withdrawn from the case as of April 5, 2023.


Arbitrary Deprivation of Life. The state failed to respect and protect Akmatov’s right to life, in violation of Article 6(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The state party also failed to offer a plausible explanation for his death, such that the state is presumed responsible for arbitrary deprivation of life. 

Torture and Ill-treatment.The treatment of Akmatov by the police amounted to treatment in violation of Article 7 of the ICCPR. 

Ineffective investigation. The state has failed to conduct a prompt, impartial, and effective investigation into the death and torture of Akmatov capable of bringing about the prosecution of those responsible for his treatment, in violation of Article 2(3) in conjunction with Articles 6(1) and 7 of the ICCPR.

October 29, 2015

The UN Human Rights Committee concluded on October 29, 2015, that Kyrgyzstan is responsible for the arbitrary deprivation of Turdubek Akmatov’s life. This finding is consistent with the Committee’s previous jurisprudence that “a death in any type of custody should be regarded as prima facie a summary or arbitrary execution,” unless that presumption can be rebutted by a “thorough, prompt and impartial investigation.” 

The Committee also noted that: 

  • The Kyrgyz government was unable to explain what happened to Akmatov during his 10 hours in police custody. It was unable to provide any records of the questioning, nor any statement from any or the “more than 60 witnesses” it claimed were questioned during its investigation of his death. 
  • There were no records or registration of Akmatov to document his whereabouts in detention. 
  • No suspects were identified or charged, despite incriminating statements from witnesses and an accusation from Akmatov himself, and the investigation was neither prompt nor effective.  

The Committee instructed Kyrgyzstan to report to it in May 2016, on steps taken to implement the findings, including by properly investigating the death and taking measures to avoid a recurrence. In addition, the government was instructed to pay appropriate compensation to the Akmatov family, and to issue an official apology.

April 05, 2023

The Justice Initiative files its final follow-up submission to the UN Human Rights Committee on the implementation of its views and announces its withdrawal from the case.

May 2021

The family receives the court-ordered compensation.

July 24, 2019

Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Court upholds lower courts’ orders.

July 24, 2019

The Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan upholds the lower courts’ orders.

February 27, 2019

Appeal Court upholds the district court’s order, rejecting government appeal.  

February 27, 2019

A Kyrgyz appeal court upholds the district court’s order.

January 11, 2019

The Justice Initiative makes a follow-up submission to the UN Human Rights Committee on the implementation of its views.

October 16, 2018

The Pervomaysky District Court rules that the government has an obligation to implement the Views of the UN Human Rights Committee and that the compensation should not depend on the outcomes of criminal proceedings. The court orders the Ministry of Finance to pay 200,000 Kyrgyzstani Soms (about 2,800 USD) as compensation to the family of Akmatov, which is significantly lower than requested.

October 29, 2015

The UN Human Rights Committee finds Kyrgyzstan responsible for Akmatov's death in custody. 

April 07, 2011

A communication is submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee.

January 01, 2010

The Akmatov family’s lawyer applies to the local courts pointing out the deficiencies in the investigation, the evidence that Akmatov was tortured, the inconsistencies in the police denials, and requests that the case be sent for trial.

July 08, 2009

After being suspended and reinstated five times, the local prosecutor suspends the investigation for a sixth time.

May 25, 2005

A criminal investigation begins, three weeks after Akmatov’s death was reported.

May 04, 2005

Akmatov dies at 1:30 a.m., a few hours after his release from police custody.

May 03, 2005

Mirza-Aki police detain and torture Akmatov, releasing him without charge.

October 16, 2018
Pervomaiski District Court Decision (Russian), October 16, 2018 Download
October 16, 2018
Pervomaiski District Court Decision (English), October 16, 2018 Download
February 08, 2016
Views Adopted by the UN Human Rights Committee Download the 12-page document Download
April 10, 2011
UNHRC: Akmatov, Communication, April 7, 2011 Download the 53-page document. Download
April 06, 2011
Турдубек Акматов против Кыргызской Республики Download the 64-page document in Russian. Download

Related Cases

Related Work

Get In Touch

Contact Us

Subscribe for Updates About Our Work

By entering your email address and clicking “Submit,” you agree to receive updates from the Open Society Justice Initiative about our work. To learn more about how we use and protect your personal data, please view our privacy policy.