On Central Asian tour, UN human rights chief wraps up visit to Kyrgyzstan
Welcoming the steps taken to develop a strong civil society in Kyrgyzstan while calling for further progress on the treatment of women and detainees, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour today concluded a two-day visit to the country, the first leg of her four-country tour of Central Asia.
During her stop in the Bishkek, she met with President Kurmanbek Bakiev, Foreign Affairs Minister Ednan Karabayev and Chairman of the Supreme Court Kurmanbek Osmonov, among other officials. She also held discussions with representatives of local and international organizations, civil society groups and diplomats.
Ms. Arbour was “pleased to note the positive direction taken by Kyrgyzstan in developing a strong civil society,” according a press release issued by her office today. “She noted the importance of further improving human rights in the country, in particular with respect to the independence of the judiciary, gender equality and preservation of the democratic space.”
However, she voiced concern about several issues pertaining to women, including their low level of participation in public life, domestic violence and abductions for forced marriage, also known as bride kidnapping – and said the Government was obligated to address them.
The High Commissioner also “regretted that incidents of ill-treatment and torture of detainees were still reported in the country,” and welcomed a step taken by the Government to reduce torture by introducing a review of detention. She also suggested that Kyrgyzstan ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, which went into effect last June, and invite the Special Rapporteur on Torture, an unpaid expert serving in an independent personal capacity, to help the Government assess and find solutions for the problem.
Ms. Arbour was pleased to receive assurances from President Bakiev regarding the speedy conclusion of an agreement to establish a presence for her Office in the country’s capital, Bishkek. Foreign Minister Karabayev said that the pact will be finalized by next month.
Her next stop on her visit to the region is in Tajikistan, and after that she will go to Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan on her 11-day tour of Central Asia, which aims to increase her Office’s visibility in the area.