Press release

Open Society Justice Initiative Trains Lawyers in Combating Torture

Date
June 23, 2006
Contact
Office of Communications
media@opensocietyfoundations.org
+1 212-548-0378

ALMATY, Kazakhstan—Twenty lawyers from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan are joining international human rights law experts this week for a practical seminar on strategic litigation to combat torture and ill-treatment.

The training, which takes place in Almaty on June 23-25, is being organized by the Open Society Justice Initiative.

This is the second practical seminar for lawyers from Central Asia to focus on litigating torture cases. Torture is widely used in Central Asia to obtain confessions and other statements used as evidence in criminal proceedings.

Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan are all signatories of the UN Convention Against Torture. The four Central Asian countries have ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which prohibits torture. Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan also ratified the First Optional Protocol, which allows individuals to complain directly to the UN Human Rights Committee on violations of their rights.

The three-day seminar will focus on strategic litigation in domestic courts and before international bodies—such as the UN Human Rights Committee—to challenge states' failure to comply with their international obligations to prevent, investigate, and punish torture. The practical exercises being used to train the 20 lawyers were developed from real Central Asia torture cases.

The training is part of an ongoing initiative by the Open Society Justice Initiative to develop legal remedies for torture and ill-treatment in Central Asia. The project provides qualified legal counsel in domestic litigation and supports individual applications to the UN Human Rights Committee. Through cooperation with partner organizations in Central Asia, the Justice Initiative identifies well-documented cases to pursue through litigation accompanied by case specific or general advocacy against torture.

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