There have been recent media comments on the report from the Public Monitoring Commissions’ (PMCs) visit to Zhanaozen with the assistance of Penal Reform International (PRI)’s Central Asia office. PRI considers some clarification necessary in light of these comments, and confirms the following points:
1. At the end of December 2011 the Public Monitoring Commissions asked PRI to assist them in organising a monitoring visit to detention facilities in Zhanozen. PRI wrote to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Kazakhstan and General Prosecutor of the Republic of Kazakhstan requesting access to the detention facilities of Zhanaozen for the Chairs of the PMCs. Access was provided and the Chairs of the PMCs (Evgeniy Golendukhin (Northern Kazakhstan), Serik Tenizbayev (Kyzylorda), Raikhan Khobdabergenova (Southern Kazakhstan) and a PRI representative (Zhanna Malayeva) visited Zhanozen and its detention facilities on 29 December 2011. In Zhanaozen two facilities were visited: the IVS (isolator of temporary detention; the detention center under the police unit) and specpriemnik (a special detention facility for administrative arrest).
2. The commissions were able to monitor the conditions of 12 persons detained in Zhanaozen following the recent riots as set out in the report. According to information provided by officials, other people arrested following the riots are held in facilities in Aktau. PRI was not able to visit the facility in Aktau.
3. The monitoring group was not investigating the arrest, legality or other circumstances relating to the criminal investigation. The main goal of its visit was to monitor conditions of incarceration for those arrested and any torture allegations made at the time of the visit (in accordance with the PMCs’ mandate). The visit took place on 29 December 2011.
4. The access provided for the monitoring group included access to IVS and specpriemnik cells, the medical room, documents, medical reports, access to staff and access to prisoners. The interviews with prisoners were carried out by the monitoring group without the presence of prison staff in the cells, but were held in the presence of other prisoners and were not confidential. The monitoring group noted that two of the detainees had suffered injuries, which they stated as having occurred during the riots, before their arrest, and these are noted in their report (below). The monitoring visit was recorded at the time.
5. The findings of the monitoring group were based on observations from the visit, audio recordings, photos, and video recording. They were agreed by all the Chairs of PMCs and the PRI representative who participated in the visit. Information about the facilities in Aktau was received from the Chair of the PMCs of Mangistau oblast, Aleksandr Mukha. One of the members of the monitoring group, the Chair of the PMC of Kyzyloda oblast, Serik Tenizbayev, visited the Aktau detention facilities on 30 December 2011. PRI can only report on the findings of their own visit to Zhanaozen as they did not visit Aktau.
6. The information about all visits was summarised and sent to the General Prosecutor’s office and Ministry of Interior on 5 January 2012 with recommendations to check the information of the report and initiate an investigation. No official reply has yet been provided.
7. PMCs are independent monitoring groups which exist in all regions of Kazakhstan. Their functions are set out in the Criminal-Executive code and Governmental Decree # 924 dated 15 September 2005. According to article 8 of the Decree the heads of PMCs are elected by local civil society organisations and they are experienced in monitoring closed institutions, and allegations of torture.
The monitors made the following recommendations:
1. Independent monitoring of closed facilities should be continued. Kazakh-speaking monitors must be included in monitoring groups as most of the detainees do not speak Russian.
2. Assistance should be provided for detainees as they have limited opportunities to pay for qualified legal aid: they are from poor families, are young and have limited knowledge of their rights.
3. The quality of food should be improved. There is a need to pay attention to the issues of separating toilet units from the cells, and buying tables, benches and cupboards for the IVS of Zhanaozen.
Any questions on the monitoring visit should be addressed to the PMCs or the PRI office in Astana:
19, Imanov str., office 908,
Republic of Kazakhstan
Phone: +7 7172 787 672/3/4
Fax: +7 7172 787 672
Read the visit report in Russian below:
Prison monitoring report_Russian