New developments on OPCAT in Kazakhstan
In recent months, PRI has closely followed the development of the Draft Law on the Establishment of a National Preventive Mechanism in Kazakhstan. On 5 June, new developments were discussed in a meeting of the Working Group on the Draft Law held in the Parliament of Kazakhstan.
A representative of the government suggested the Ministry of Justice would assign an NPM through a call for tenders, which raises concerns over independence and conflict of interest. It was also suggested the mandate of the NPM could be limited to certain institutions, contrary to the intention of OPCAT comprising all places where people are deprived of their liberty.
The members of the Working Group on the Draft Law in Kazakhstan were informed about a response received by the Government of Kazakhstan from the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) to a query on aspects of the Draft Law. The representatives of the Government of Kazakhstan referred to this response and argued that the SPT had agreed with the envisaged system, within which the Ministry of Justice would administer the implementation of NPM during an initial period through a system of the “state social order” (state procurement of NGO services). In this system the Ministry of Justice is responsible for the distribution of the grants/orders.
The draft law also proposes that the NPM mandate would be limited to prisons, pre-trial detention facilities, institutions for compulsory treatment of alcoholism and institutions for deviant children, but other institutions including child institutions in general, psychiatric institutions, military institutions and social care houses would not fall under the scope of preventive monitoring by the proposed NPM.
PRI and other civil society organisations disagree that such a body would satisfy the requirements of an NPM under the OPCAT. In a letter, PRI, the Coordinative Council of Public Oversight Boards and the Coalition of Kazakhstan NGOs against Torture seek clarification from the SPT on its position and interpretation of the OPCAT in this regard