Seminar on “Prevention of torture and other forms of ill-treatment and punishment: international standards and practice"
On 2-6 December 2019, under the auspices of the Authorized Person of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Human Rights (Ombudsman), a five-day seminar on “Prevention of Torture and Other Forms of Ill-treatment and Punishment: International Standards and Practices” took place in Tashkent. The seminar was attended by members of the Ombudsman's Secretariat, Regional Representatives of the Ombudsman and members of the civil society.
According to the amendments to the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On the Authorized Person of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Human Rights (Ombudsman)” from 14 March 2019, “the Authorized Person takes measures to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment by regularly visiting places of detention". These amendments foresee the creation of the Expert Group under the Ombudsman, comprised of representatives of non-governmental non-profit organizations (NGOs) with relevant professional and practical experience and skills. This particular event was aimed at assisting in implementation of the new mandate of the Ombudsman in close cooperation with representatives of the civil society.
The seminar was led by international experts, including the Vice-Chair of the UN Sub-committee against Torture (SPT), the member of the UN Committee against Torture and experts on national preventive mechanisms and torture prevention from the Kyrgyz Republic and the Republic of Kazakhstan. During the seminar, participants had the opportunity to learn from international experts about international standards on combating torture, discussed the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners (Nelson Mandela Rules), learned about experience of creating national preventive mechanisms in those Central Asian countries that have ratified the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture), as well as familiarized themselves with the basic principles of human rights monitoring.
During practical exercises, participants applied newly acquired knowledge and skills in planning and conducting preventive monitoring visits to various places of deprivation of liberty, discussed approaches to preparing reports on the results of their visits and outlined next steps in implementing the new torture prevention mandate of the Ombudsman.
The seminar was organized with support of the Office of the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan, the UN Office for Human Rights in Central Asia (OHCHR Regional Office for Central Asia) and the Regional Office of the Prison Reform International (PRI) in Central Asia. International organizations that supported the seminar expressed hope for further cooperation with the Ombudsman in 2020 to ensure effective implementation of his preventive mandate.
According to amendments and additions to the Law of the Republic of Uzbekistan “On the Authorized Person of the Oliy Majlis of the Republic of Uzbekistan for Human Rights (Ombudsman)” from 14 March 2019, preventive visits to places of deprivation of liberty will be carried out under the auspices of the Ombudsman by employees of the new Torture Prevention Sector of his Secretariat in Tashkent, jointly with members of the Expert Group formed under the Ombudsman’s auspices, on the basis of special authorizations that will be issued by the Ombudsman.
When visiting detention facilities, the Ombudsman, has the right to examine conditions of detention and treatment of detained persons, to conduct confidential conversations with them, to use technical means during such conversations, to get acquainted and receive copies of documents confirming lawfulness of detention, and to demand from administrations of detention facilities medical examination and provision of the required medical, psychological and other assistance to the detainees.
Based on visit results, the Ombudsman draws up conclusions and sends them out to relevant organizations and officials, as well as makes recommendations and suggestions for improving practices and legislation with a view to effective prevention of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The right to unhindered and unannounced preventive visits extends to all detention facilities and places of limitation of liberty.
Relevant recommendations of the UN human rights mechanisms:
During the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in May 2018, several Member States of the UN Human Rights Council recommended ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) by the Republic of Uzbekistan. Additional information on the UPR can be found via this link: