The Parliament of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan adopted amendments to the Procedural Penal Code. One of the provision is particularly worrisome, as it deletes a reference to findings of international mechanisms as a source to reopen a case.
Penal Reform International (PRI) and the Centre for Civil and Political Rights (CCPR Centre) raised concern with the President of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan in a joint letter addressing the draft law “On Amending Certain Legislative Acts of the Kyrgyz Republic in the Sphere of Criminal Law” (number 6-5130/20). Specifically, the draft law would impede the ability of courts in Kyrgyzstan to fully take into account findings of international mechanisms.
The two organisations express particular concern at the courts’ ability to take into account findings of the United Nations treaty bodies, and most specifically the UN Human Rights Committee, in reference to articles 1, 442, 444, of the draft law.
Effectively, as suggested by the legislator’s amendments put forth in this law, the new provision could impede the ability of courts’ in Kyrgyzstan to review a case following the submission of a communication to the Human Rights Committee by individuals, typically defendants in a criminal case, claiming to be victims of violations of any of the rights set forth in the Covenant. These provisions would hamper the procedural rights of individuals in contact with justice systems in Kyrgyzstan. This provision would hence go against the very spirit of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Evidence in a case coming from findings of an international body, which is created by a treaty ratified by the Republic of Kyrgyzstan, such as the UN Human Rights Committee, under the ICCPR and its Optional Protocol, should be fully admitted as evidence allowing to reopen a case and reconsider the facts of the case.
‘Our letter is inspired by a spirit of dialogue and transparency, which we hope further nourishes the cooperation with institutions in Kyrgyzstan, as we write in the letter to the President of the Republic’, commented Zhanna Nazarova, PRI’s Regional Programme Manager for Central Asia. ‘We believe in the good cooperation we have established, but also believe the said provision does not reflect Kyrgyzstan’s will to construct a more fair and effective criminal justice system, which we are committed to support.’
The addition of a reference to international law in article 1 of the procedural code is welcome. However, through the combination of these amendments, the substantive reference to findings of international bodies as a source to reassess a case is replaced through a generic affirmation of the supremacy of international law. ‘We worry that this will practically diminish the protection of rights of suspects in a procedure’, concluded Zhanna Nazarova.