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UN rights office cites continued lack of justice for victims of Kyrgyz violence

10 June 2011 – A year after ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan killed hundreds and displaced thousands, justice has not prevailed, and there is a lack of confidence in the rule of law, a United Nations human rights official said today.

“Despite Government efforts, deficiencies in the administration of justice continue to pose a major impediment to the attainment of justice for victims and the establishment of confidence in the rule of law throughout Kyrgyzstan, particularly in the south, where the violence had taken place last year,” said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“Law enforcement investigations into the June events had routinely been accompanied by allegations of extortion, ill-treatment and torture of detainees,” he told a news briefing in Geneva.

According to UN counts, the violence that began in June 2010 killed more than 400 persons, injured another, 2,000, and displaced at least 375,000.

“Trials monitored by OHCHR staff in Kyrgyzstan – from city courts to the Supreme Court – continue to reveal concerns about due process, the independence of the judiciary, security for defendants, their lawyers and court officials,” Mr. Colville said. “Reports of continuing discriminatory practices towards Kyrgyzstan’s various national and ethnic minorities are deeply troublesome.”

Sybella Wilkes, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said that the agency is assisting some 280,000 affected people in Osh and Jalalabad, which were among the main areas rocked by the violence.

People are slowly picking up their lives, but further improvements in security and the economy are needed for life to return to normal, Ms. Wilkes said.

“UNHCR heard repeatedly from different individuals that even today there is distrust of the local authorities,” she said. “There is still a certain degree of suspicion between communities, and the most affected groups were not yet fully ready for reconciliation.” Out of the $11.4 million UNHCR needs to run projects in Kyrgyzstan this year, it has received just over half and is facing a shortfall of $5.4 million, she said.

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