The ICJ today expressed serious concern at the reported apprehension and placement in a psychiatric facility of lawyer Zinaida Mukhortova.
The detention appears to be arbitrary and aimed at harassment of the lawyer, contrary to Kazakhstan’s international law obligations to respect the right to liberty and to protect lawyers from harassment, the ICJ said.
Reports by Kadyr Kasiyet, a human rights organization based in Kazakhstan, indicate that today at 10:15, Zinaida Mukhortova (photo) was taken by force by six men, suspected to be police officers in the guise of engineers, while visiting members of her family in Balkhash.
Reportedly, her 14-year-old grandson was hit on the head, and her five-year-old niece was flung aside by the men.
Recently, Zinaida Mukhorova’s family had been repeatedly informed that the police were searching for her; she was apprehended today as she was visiting her grandchildren.
Zinaida Mukhortova has been held involuntarily in psychiatric facilities on two previous occasions, which the ICJ considers to constitute incidents of arbitrary detention in violation of international law.
Her previous detention was justified on grounds of alleged “mental disorder” evidenced by “possible querulant” and “litigious” activity”, suggesting that her detention was directly related to her discharge of her professional functions.
On 3 December 2013, the ICJ observed a hearing in which an appeal court confirmed the legality of this detention.
Following that case, the ICJ expressed concern that the decision could put lawyer Mukhortova at risk of further detention.
The ICJ calls on the authorities to ensure and that to rights to freedom from arbitrary detention, and judicial review of detention, are fully and effectively guaranteed in law and practice, and that she is not held in violation of national procedures or international law.
The ICJ continues monitoring the case of lawyer Zinaida Mukhortova.
Róisín Pillay, Director, ICJ Europe Programme, roisin.pillay(a)icj.org
Temur Shakirov, Legal Adviser, ICJ Europe Programme, temur.shakirov(a)icj.org
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