PRI takes an active part in supporting improvements to the criminal justice system in Kazakhstan, including the development of legislative and supporting best practice. PRI participates in working groups on the adoption of draft laws based on recommendations from civil society and international human rights standards.
Kazakhstan is open to cooperation with international organizations, including PRI, and develops policy based on recommendations, including those to combat COVID-19.
Over the past 18 months, significant changes have been made to the departmental orders of the Committee of the Criminal Executive System (KUIS) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan and to criminal legislation aimed at improving the conditions of detention of convicts. KUIS continues to implement its 10-Point Plan to Address Prison Overcrowding, which is leading to significant reductions in the prison population. This has resulted in the closure of 13 prisons over the past six years.
In Kyrgyzstan, PRI continues work on torture prevention through strengthening cooperation between civil society and state institutions. In 2019, new criminal laws came into force – the Criminal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code, the Criminal Executive Code, the Code on misconduct. PRI provided expert support in writing the first comments to the Criminal Procedure Code of Kyrgyzstan and trained judges and CSO representatives on new elements of criminal legislation.
With the introduction of new laws, the Probation Institute was established in 2019. PRI provided expert support to the Institute including opportunities to learn from best practice in other countries and training for probation officers.
In Uzbekistan, PRI has provided expert support to the Ombudsman Office on the development of the National Preventive Mechanism through sharing best practices from the NPMs of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The Uzbekistan Prison Service (GUIN) is currently working on the amendments to the Criminal Executive Code defined by the Strategy of Action in five priority areas of the development of the Republic of Uzbekistan in 2017–2021. PRI shared best practices from countries around the world with the GUIN. The Strategy of Action includes the development of a new probation service which started operating on 1 January 2019. PRI led expert consultations with probation service representatives to share the best international practice of probation institute development.
In Tajikistan, PRI was able to organise the country’s First Prison Forum on the development of the prison system in November 2019. The forum led to the establishment of inter-governmental working groups on development of a strategy and action plan from 2021-2030 for reforming the criminal executive system and the development of programmes for vocational training and job provision for people in prison and those recently released from prison.
In addition to developing a policy framework, PRI is also supporting the provision of psychological and social assistance to women and children in detention, filling an urgent gap in service provision.
In 2019, PRI led a study visit to London for criminal justice leaders to learn about the English probation system. The idea to establish a probation institute was introduced by the Head of Prison Service into the 2021-2030 strategy after this study visit.
PRI continues to provide much needed training for prison staff on international human rights standards in prisons and how they can be implemented as well as monitoring of prisons and closed institutions where children are held.