Akmatov v. Kyrgyzstan
Beaten to Death by Police
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 afterwards, while sitting on a bench at the family home, Akmatov cried out and fell to the ground, bleeding copiously from his mouth, ears, and nose. He died a few hours later with severe internal injuries. The authorities have repeatedly stalled the criminal investigation of the case.
On May 3, 2005, at approximately 9:00-9:30 a.m., 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 at approximately 9:00-9:30 p.m. on the same day, gravely injured.
A few hours after his return from the police station, Akmatov died from those 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 Mr. Akmatov’s dying declaration to his family that police had beaten him during the interrogation. Yet, despite attempts by the 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 responsible to date, and Akmatov’s family has not obtained compensation for the loss of their relative.
Open Society Justice Initiative Involvement
The Open Society Justice Initiative assisted the local lawyer in attempts to force an effective investigation, and is acting at co-counsel in the complaint to the UN Human Rights Committee.
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 offer a plausible explanation for his death, such that the state is presumed responsible for an 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.
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 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 Turdubek 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 are no records or registration of Turdubek to document his whereabouts in detention.
- No suspects were identified or charged, despite incriminating statements from witnesses and from Turdubek himself, and the investigation was neither prompt nor effective.
The committee instructed Kyrgyzstan to report to the committee 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.
A court in Bishkek orders the Finance Ministry to pay compensation of 200,000 Kyrgyz soms (about $2,800), in response to an application from Akmatov's family.
UN Human Rights Committee finds Kyrgyzstan responsible for Turdubek Akmatov's death in custody.
Communication submitted to the UN Human Rights Committee.
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 requesting that the case be sent for trial.
After being suspended and reinstated five times, the local prosecutor suspends the investigation for a sixth time.
Criminal investigation begins, 21 days after Akmatov’s death was reported.
Akmatov dies at 1:30 a.m., a few hours after his release from police custody.
Mirza-Aki police detain and torture Akmatov, releasing him without charge.
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