The ICJ today expressed serious concern at the physical assault of lawyers Tatiana Tomina and Ulugbek Usmanov at a Supreme Court hearing in Bishkek this morning.
The ICJ called on the Kyrgyzstan authorities to take effective measures to protect the physical security of lawyers as well as all other parties in court proceedings, and to hold accountable those responsible for today’s attacks.
The assaults took place during the Supreme Court hearing in the case against Shamshidin Niyazaliyev, who was recently acquitted of charges relating to the outbreak of widespread ethnic violence in the South of Kyrgyzstan in June 2010. During the hearing, several persons present in the courtroom subjected the two lawyers and the mother of Shamshidin Niyazaliyev to beatings. No immediate steps were taken by the Court to prevent the beatings, which continued for several minutes before security officers intervened.
“There has been a pattern of serious attacks on lawyers in Kyrgyzstan, but this is the first time that the authorities have failed to guarantee the security for lawyers at the Supreme Court”, Róisín Pillay, Director of the ICJ Europe Programme said today. “These attacks violate the international obligations of the Kyrgyz authorities to ensure the security of lawyers and to protect the right to a fair trial. No justice is possible unless all the parties to the judicial process are fully protected and lawyers are able to discharge their functions without harassment, or attack”.
International standards, including the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, require that “where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities”.
It is now essential for the credibility of the judicial system that today’s assaults are thoroughly and independently investigated and that those responsible are brought to justice, the ICJ emphasised.
According to lawyer Tatiana Tomina, the attacks began when about 15 men and women started insulting, pushing and punching the lawyers as they walked into the courtroom. The defendant’s mother, the only apparent supporter of the defendant allowed into the Court, was kicked and punched in the head. When the defence lawyers began to read a statement, several women attacked Tatiana Tomina and attempted to take documents from her by force. The panel of presiding judges did not attempt to prevent the beatings and security officers only appeared after several minutes had passed. Tatiana Tomina and the mother of the defendant were able to escape through the back door of the court. However Ulugbek Usmanov was unable to escape and suffered more serious injuries.
The Court adjourned the hearing for two hours. After the hearing resumed, only a few security persons were present in the courtroom and the defendant’s mother did not attend this part of the hearing. Following five minutes of deliberations the Supreme Court overturned the earlier acquittal.
Reportedly, at the hearing, defence statements were constantly interrupted, lawyers were insulted and prevented from speaking in defence of their clients and the Court refused to call any of the five witnesses of the defence. In her comments to the ICJ, lawyer Tatiana Tomina stated: “[i]n three years nothing has changed either in terms of the attitude towards lawyers or in terms of the investigation of criminal cases, which has not improved at all.” The ICJ has previously raised concerns at violence against lawyers in cases related to ethnic disturbances in the south of Kyrgyzstan in 2010.
Róisín Pillay, Director, ICJ Europe Programme, firstname.lastname@example.org
Temur Shakirov, Legal Adviser, ICJ Europe Programme, email@example.com
ICJ condemns assaults on lawyers in Supreme Court (Full Text in Russian, PDF)NewsPress releases