Press release

Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan Issues Final Positive Ruling Awarding Compensation for Prison Death

October 01, 2020
Brooke Havlik

NEW YORK—On Monday, September 28, the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan declined an appeal filed by Kyrgyzstan’s Ministry of Finance on its ruling in the case of Ernazarov v. Kyrgyzstan. As no further appeals are permitted, the Supreme Court’s decision awarding compensation to the family of the victim, Rahmonberdi Enazarov, will remain final.

The case concerns the 2005 death of Enazarov in a prison in the Osh Province of Kyrgyzstan after being arrested for forced sodomy, which is prohibited by article 130 of the Kyrgyz Criminal Code. He died in his police cell after sustaining serious injuries, purportedly the result of a beating from individuals with whom he shared a cell, and who subjected him to abuse throughout the weeks he was in detention. Prison guards did not intervene to stop psychological abuse and physical violence despite knowledge of the danger this presented to Enazarov, and despite an order issued by a local prosecutor to transfer him to a pre-trial detention center under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Justice.

The Open Society Justice Initiative filed a petition to the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC), together with local counsel, arguing that Enazarov’s death in custody and the government of Kyrgyzstan’s failure to carry out an effective investigation into the case violated the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). In 2015, the HRC found that Kyrgyzstan had violated several articles of the treaty, including Article 6, pertaining to the right to life, and Article 7, prohibiting torture. Following petitions filed by local counsel Sardorbek Abdukholikov, in 2019, a district court upheld the ruling of the HRC, and in 2020, a Bishkek city court similarly concluded that Kyrgyzstan was legally obliged to implement the HRC decision. Although the Supreme Court issued a similar decision in Akmatov case, the Ministry of Finance has so far refused to pay the compensation.

“Unfortunately, after a 15-year quest for justice, the perpetrators of this crime have still not been held accountable, and the amount of compensation to be awarded is not commensurate with the gravity of the crime,” said Masha Lisitsyna, senior managing legal officer at the Justice Initiative. “Nevertheless, it is a victory that the courts of Kyrgyzstan have confirmed the government’s obligation to implement the decisions of the UN Human Rights Committee and acknowledged the responsibility of the government for Enazarov’s wrongful death in prison.”

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