Freedom House Calls on Kyrgyzstan to Reform Prison System


Freedom House calls on the Kyrgyzstani government to implement prison reform measures that respect the rights of detainees and bring the penal system into compliance with international human rights standards. This month, thousands of prison inmates across the country coordinated hunger strikes, sewed their lips shut, and mutilated their bodies, reportedly to  protest poor conditions and rights abuses throughout Kyrgyzstan’s prison system.

“Kyrgyzstan’s prison system does not provide even the minimum level of protections or care for the detained; as a result, prisoner abuse and neglect is rampant,” said David J. Kramer, president of Freedom House.  “The prisoners’ protest brings much needed attention to the pressing need to respect the rights of detainees and reform the Kyrgyz prison system.”

While reports indicate that the nationwide prison protest may have been coordinated by criminal elements within the prison system, the protests highlight the inhumane conditions in many of Kyrgyzstan’s detention facilities and the frequent abuse of prisoners’ rights. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment noted in December 2011 that torture in Kyrgyzstan’s prisons was “widespread,” and that prison sanitary conditions were “poor.” In 2010, a World Health Organization (WHO) analysis of Kyrgyzstani prisons found “inadequate quality and accessibility of health care” throughout the prison system.

The Kyrgyzstani government has already taken a number of progressive steps on prison reform, including enhancing the ability of civil-society groups to monitor prison conditions and recommend legislative and other reforms.   However, according to a December 2011 report published by Freedom House and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the government’s prison reform strategy is still largely unrealized.

Kyrgyzstan is ranked Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2011, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and was upgraded from Not Free the previous year due to the adoption of a new constitution and genuinely competitive, multiparty parliamentary elections held in October 2010. The country is ranked Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2011.

For more information on Kyrgyzstan, visit: 

Freedom in the World 2011: Kyrgyzstan

Freedom of the Press 2011: Kyrgyzstan

Nations in Transit 2011: Kyrgyzstan

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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