Turk endorses Kazakhstan’s zero-tolerance commitment to torture

Astana, Mar. 17 (EFE) – UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Austrian Volker Turk, expressed support for Kazakhstan’s zero-tolerance policy toward torture, following Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s signing of a related law on Friday.

“After my visit to Kazakhstan, my primary conclusion is that there is a commitment from the president for a zero-tolerance attitude toward torture,” Turk told a news conference in the Kazakh capital on Friday.

As part of Kazakhstan’s political and legal reforms, Tokayev signed a law earlier Friday concerning human rights in criminal proceedings, the execution of sentences, and the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.

The UN high commissioner emphasized that, although the law is still new, “it is important that all cases of torture be investigated so that reparations are paid (to the victims) and those responsible are brought to justice.”

Turk underscored the importance of introducing and fully executing all prevention mechanisms.

“Our office and the UN as a whole stand ready to support all efforts to eradicate this scourge of the 21st century and completely end it in this country,” he added.

Turk met with Tokayev during his visit to Kazakhstan, after which the Austrian noted that the Central Asian country had ratified the main UN conventions and protocols, and had established working mechanisms for active interaction in the field of human rights at the national level.

The Kazakh president informed the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights about the reforms being implemented in the country, which include socio-political modernization under the principle of “a strong president, an influential parliament, and a responsible government.”

“I have followed the events in this country over the past year. From our perspective, it is very important that the protection of citizens’ rights is an integral part of the reforms because we are talking about the future of the country,” Turk emphasized to Tokayev, according to the Akorda presidential palace.

“We believe that the future of every country should be based on those fundamental principles on which the UN and the entire world are based,” he added.

At the same time, during his stay in Astana, Turk did not shy away from criticizing the situation regarding gender violence, which he described as a “serious problem” that “requires a solution.”

In this context, he advocated for legislative changes to send a clear signal that violence against women must be punished.

The UN high commissioner also urged Kazakhstan to defend freedom of expression, and peaceful assemblies, and prevent violence against the LGBT community, which faces “discrimination” and “social stigma.” EFE



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