COMMITTEE ON ELIMINATION OF RACIAL DISCRIMINATION CONSIDERS REPORT OF KYRGYZSTAN
19 February 2013
The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination completed today its consideration of the combined fifth to seventh periodic report of Kyrgyzstan on its implementation of the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Presenting the report, Mira Karybaeva, Chief of the Division of Ethnic, Religious Policies and Interaction with Civil Society, President’s Office of the Kyrgyz Republic, said that the ethnic conflicts which had taken place in 2010 were the result of economic disparities and the lack of a systemic public policy to manage ethnic tensions. Strengthening unity among its people and promoting inter-ethnic harmony was a priority for Kyrgyzstan. A reform of the judicial system was underway and strengthening the role of the Prosecutor’s Office would help to ensure respect for human rights. The full involvement of ethnic communities in Kyrgyzstan’s public life was treated an important matter. The right to choose the language of education was enshrined in the constitution, while efforts were made to improve law enforcement mechanisms and to combat activities which might undermine inter-ethnic harmony.
During the discussion, the Committee raised issues concerning Kyrgyzstan’s way of dealing with socio-economic differences which were at the heart of ethnic conflicts, the participation of citizens from ethnic minorities in the judiciary, the police and public life in general, and the right to education and information in minority languages. Questions were also asked about steps taken to ensure a fair investigation into the events of 2010, measures taken to build inter-ethnic harmony and to prevent violence against minority women, efforts to tackle the use of media for hate speech, propaganda and terrorist threats, and the reform of national legislation and of law-enforcement agencies.
In concluding remarks, Ion Diaconu, Country Rapporteur for Kyrgyzstan, welcomed reforms and institutional changes in Kyrgyzstan and underlined the role that political figures and bodies could play in facilitating reform. Transitional justice was important for rebuilding citizens’ confidence in the judicial system. Additionally, measures should be taken to eliminate economic disparities among the population and to build a climate of trust.
Mira Karybaeva, Chief of the Division of Ethnic, Religious Policies and Interaction with Civil Society, President’s Office of the Kyrgyz Republic, thanked the Committee for the attention given to Kyrgyzstan’s report and said that its recommendations would help the country to move in the right direction.
The delegation of Kyrgyzstan included representatives from the President’s Office of the Kyrgyz Republic, the General Prosecutor’s Office, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Permanent Mission of Kyrgyzstan to the United Nations Office in Geneva.
The next public meeting of the Committee will take place at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, 19 February, when it will begin its consideration of the combined ninth and tenth periodic report of Slovakia (CERD/C/SVK/9-10).
The combined fifth to seventh periodic report of Kyrgyzstan can be read here (CERD/C/KGZ/5-7).
Presentation of the Report
MIRA KARYBAEVA, Chief of the Division of Ethnic, Religious Policies and Interaction with Civil Society, President’s Office of the Kyrgyz Republic, said that the ethnic conflicts which had taken place in 2010 had been a major issue. The events which had occurred in Kyrgyzstan from 2007 to 2011 had led to a number of changes in the political life of the country, including the replacement of the presidential system with a parliamentary system. The ethnic conflicts of 2010 were the result of the worsening economic situation and the lack of systemic public policy to manage ethnic tensions. At the local level, there was an increasing division in a number of communities. Lessons had not been learnt from the 1990 ethnic conflict nor had there been any discussions about what had caused those incidents. As criminal groups operating in the country continued to fight in order to expand their sphere of influence, the authorities had been unable to create a clear model for the integration of ethnic groups. Tensions had arisen as a result of the inequalities between ethnic groups for decades.
Following the outbreak of ethnic conflicts in June 2010, Kyrgyzstan had focused on limiting and eventually stopping the conflict, providing assistance to the victims, and rebuilding the infrastructure in the areas in which it had been devastated. Assistance also had been provided by other States and international organizations on humanitarian grounds. Initially, temporary housing was provided to those affected by the conflict and by August 2012 permanent housing had been provided to those persons. As the process of reconstruction continued, Kyrgyzstan was working on ethnic integration and wished to ensure that ethnic conflicts would not erupt in the future. The main recommendations of the Independent International Commission had been integrated as part of Kyrgyzstan’s international obligations undertaken during the latest Universal Periodic Review. Strengthening unity among the people and promoting inter-ethnic harmony was a priority for Kyrgyzstan, whose priorities included taking measures to form a common civic identity and monitoring the effectiveness of language policy. To that end, local committees with participation from leaders of various ethnicities had been set up in all the areas which had been affected by the conflict of 2010. Moreover, the People’s Assembly brought together members of all ethnic groups living in Kyrgyzstan.
During the tragic events of June 2010 and the outbreak of violence which ensued, extensive destruction and over 400 deaths were reported. The majority of those killed were ethnic Uzbeks. Over 500 persons had been held criminally responsible, the majority of whom were also ethnic Uzbeks. The imbalance in the number of victims and persons held criminally responsible had been openly discussed in society.
The reform of the judicial system was underway and the Council that had been chosen included members of civil society. A Constitutional Chamber was also in the process of being created and it would include members from all groups. Judges who had been discredited in the past were no longer allowed to work as judges. Strengthening the role of the Prosecutor’s Office was seen as a way of ensuring respect for human rights and dealing with complaints of torture. Regarding torture, in particular, the Parliament had approved a law on national mechanisms to prevent torture. In December 2011, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture had visited Kyrgyzstan and a plan of action had been developed and adopted.
As a means of preserving human rights and re-establishing rights which had been violated, a multi-ethnic human resources corps had been created and special attention was paid to humanizing the activities of the Ministry of Interior.
The representation of different minorities and the full involvement of ethnic communities in the public life of the country were also treated as important matters. Kyrgyzstan was the only country in the region which had applied affirmative action measures in that respect, and a minimum level of representation for different ethnic groups had been established. Even though in areas of compact settlement of minorities there were, inevitably, differences from nationwide average figures, the overall number of deputies and local assemblies had increased. Uzbeks represented 10 per cent of deputies at the national level and 26 per cent at the local level.
Specific measures were being taken to increase the participation of minorities in the public life of the country. According to the constitution of Kyrgyzstan, the official language of the country was Kyrgyz, Russian was also considered a national language, and minorities had the right to preserve their ethnic language. Bilingualism, therefore, was proclaimed at the official level and legislation was in place to protect linguistic diversity. The right to choose the language of education was enshrined in the constitution. Education was currently offered in four languages, but it could be provided in other languages as well if the right conditions existed. Close to 60.8 per cent of teaching was conducted in Kyrgyz, 8.6 per cent of schools were in Russian, 9.6 per cent in Uzbek, and 0.1 per cent in Tajik. In certain schools education was carried out in two languages, for example in Kyrgyz and Russian or in Kyrgyz and Uzbek. Regarding Uzbek, in particular, there were more than 90 schools in the country in which education was offered in the Uzbek language to a total of over 141,000 pupils.
Ms. Karybaeva said that the segregated approach to teaching different languages remained a problem. She also reported that in certain Uzbek and Tajik language schools the official languages were not studied, which greatly reduced the career prospects and job opportunities of pupils graduating from those schools.
Concerning access to information in minority languages, the main radio station of the country had programmes, under the title “Friendship”, in the languages of ethnic minorities. The range of languages covered by those programmes would be broadened to include Uzbek and Tajik. Moreover, a special public regional television station was created, named “Unity”, with the objective of responding to the needs of ethnic minority groups, the dissemination of information, and the provision of entertainment programmes. There were several local newspapers published in the Uzbek language, while Kyrgyz and Russian language newspapers also included pages in Uzbek. In addition, in the South of the Kyrgyz Republic, broadcasts from channels in Uzbekistan were received.
Ms. Karybaeva said that, in the post-2010 period, Kyrgyzstan had tried to improve the mechanisms of legal enforcement and to combat activities which might undermine inter-ethnic harmony. Journalists and their professional associations were trained in these issues. A Russian drama theatre and an Uzbek musical drama theatre were in the process of being created to promote minority languages. Efforts were made to improve the programme for the management of inter-ethnic relations at the local level. The training of law enforcement staff was carried out on a regular basis and, in addition, there were special training programmes. At Kyrgyz universities human rights were covered in a number of disciplines and the study of human rights was mandatory for students of certain programmes.
Questions by Experts
ION DIACONU, Country Rapporteur for Kyrgyzstan, said that Kyrgyzstan was a Central Asian country of almost 5.5 million inhabitants, of whom 72 per cent were Kyrgyz and the rest comprised 90 different ethnic groups, with Uzbeks and Russians being the largest minority groups.
Besides underdevelopment, the main problem facing the country was the long history of ethnic conflict between the majority of the population and some of the minority groups. The ethnic conflicts of 2010 had been ignited by small incidents, which indicated that the causes of those incidents were deeply rooted. There were reports that local authorities had not intervened to stop the escalation of the conflict and to bring charges against the perpetrators and that they had given weapons to ethnic Kyrgyz. According to certain reports, major socio-economic differences had been at the heart of ethnic conflicts, which might have been the result of the government pursuing the wrong socio-economic policies. Poverty had to be reduced, the perpetrators of crimes against ethnic groups should be prosecuted, and the new policies adopted by Kyrgyzstan should ensure full respect for human rights for all without discrimination on ethnic grounds. It was surprising that the majority of the victims and of those who were found guilty of ethnic conflicts were Uzbek. This might be taken to reflect a biased attitude of the State towards Uzbeks, a lack of effective investigation, and an unequal treatment of ethnic minorities in the judiciary system.
The Committee had recommended that Kyrgyzstan initiate a formal review of all cases connected with the incidents of violence which occurred in June 2010 and prosecute all those responsible for human victims and destruction, irrespective of whether such persons belonged to majority or minority groups. Respect of the laws should be monitored with the involvement of other State bodies and of voluntary associations in order to prevent ethnic or religious discrimination and hatred. Why was there no available data on the ethnic background of victims and of defendants in cases of incitement of racial discrimination and hatred?
Reports had been received that the participation of ethnic groups in the public sphere had decreased dramatically. Minorities had to feel that they lived in a State which was also theirs. Therefore, Kyrgyzstan should take comprehensive measures to ensure that minority members were represented in the judiciary, the police, and the executive bodies as close as possible proportionally to their percentage in the population of the country.
According to reports received there was a lack of qualified teachers, translators, textbooks, and teaching materials in minority languages due to low or no funding for minority language classes in certain areas. Education was important for preserving a language. How did Kyrgyzstan plan to promote multilingual education throughout the country? Did all children have the opportunity to learn their mother tongue along with the official State language? Could the delegation explain what was the situation regarding media such as television channels in minority languages two years after the conflict of 2010? Kyrgyzstan should take immediate and effective measures in the fields of culture, information, and education to promote ethnic development and social integration, to prevent segregation and discrimination, and to protect the rights of minority languages.
Reports had also been received about ethnic minority members who were held in prison being subjected to inhumane treatment, including cases of arbitrary detention, allegations of torture, and evidence obtained under duress.
An Expert noted that the challenges facing Kyrgyzstan were major and said that the risk that ethnic conflicts might be reignited was great, especially given that socio-economic differences between different ethnic groups persisted. Kyrgyzstan had to work hard to construct inter-ethnic harmony because the peaceful coexistence of the country’s different ethnic groups was essential for the future prosperity of the country. All alleged incidents of harassment, intimidation, arbitrary arrest, and torture had to be investigated properly and similar incidents had to be prevented in the future. What measures had Kyrgyzstan taken fully to re-establish equity in the application of justice and better representation of ethnic minority groups in the National Assembly and local assemblies following the conflict of 2010?
The Expert also pointed out that there was a lack of clarity about the sentences which had been handed down and regarding the compensation which had been paid to victims in the post-2010 period. What measures had been taken to strengthen the important role of the ombudsman? How many complaints about racial discrimination had the ombudsman received? Was there a human rights institution in the country in line with the Paris Principles? Would Kyrgyzstan consider accepting visits from United Nations Special Rapporteurs, following the recent visit to the country by the Special Rapporteur on torture?
Another Expert stressed that Kyrgyzstan was taking important steps to deal with the enormous challenges that the country was facing. What was the role that the international community played to help Kyrgyzstan to ensure inter-ethnic and political cohesion? What were the results of the work that had been carried out and what impact did that work have on the situation of ethnic minorities? Were there customary or other laws in the country that could be applied in the work aimed at achieving social cohesion and in efforts to harmonize relations between ethnic groups? Were there positive discrimination measures and, if so, what were the results of those measures? The Expert said that the Committee supported Kyrgyzstan fully in its efforts.
An Expert said that ethnic conflicts in Kyrgyzstan, which involved deaths and major destruction to property, were a matter of great concern; and the delegation’s acknowledgement that these conflicts were the result of imbalances in society and that the judicial system was under reform had been appreciated. The judiciary and law enforcement agencies were in urgent need of reform. Was there a mechanism available to persons who had been convicted under the earlier judicial system to obtain a remedy for what might have been an unfair conviction? Was there a lack of representation of minorities in the military too? What were the requirements for becoming a member of law enforcement agencies? More information was needed on the enforcement of the law on hatred incitement and especially on the ethnicity of the persons being prosecuted under that law.
Another Expert wanted to know what direct and special measures had been taken to ensure that the police force was becoming more representative of ethnic minorities. The Expert expressed concern at reports received about the dismissal of persons from state jobs and asked for more information concerning such reports. Regarding the ill-treatment and rape of women since 2010, the Expert asked what direct steps had Kyrgyzstan taken to address such incidents involving minority women who had been deprived of their businesses and livelihoods.
A Committee Expert stressed the need for reconciliation efforts among communities on a national scale. As a first step to reconciliation, it was important to eliminate hate speech, which was used by politicians to increase their popularity. What administrative and judicial measures could be taken to counter hate speech? What was the role of neighbouring countries in helping to cool-down ethnic tensions in Kyrgyzstan? The Expert also drew attention to the problem of statelessness facing citizens of the former Soviet Union who had not been able to obtain the Kyrgyz citizenship.
Another Expert thanked the Kyrgyz delegation for the concise yet informative report it had submitted and said that interesting information had been received from representatives of non-governmental organization. The ethnic problems that Kyrgyzstan had been facing were complex and there were no ready-made solutions. Nevertheless, it was important for Kyrgyzstan to demonstrate the political will to tackle these problems regardless of how difficult the situation was. Concerning the institutional infrastructure, the Expert asked what functions the ombudsperson had in practice and how he or she tackled issues of racial discrimination. Were there any cases that the ombudsperson had resolved successfully which could be used as a model for resolving other similar cases? The circulation of weapons among portions of the civilian population contributed to a climate of mistrust and raised serious security concerns. Could the authorities ensure that weapons were taken from the hands of civilians to ensure that ethnic tensions would not prove deadly?
Response by the Delegation
The delegation said that, while the term “discrimination” was not used in Kyrgyz legislation, Article 24 of the Criminal Code provided for the “violation of the equal rights of citizens” which also covered discrimination. Constitutional reform was underway and specific provisions were being included in the Constitution to address issues of discrimination. The progress of reforming national legislation had been somewhat slowed down by the ongoing political changes in the country. A recent presidential decree had formed expert groups to draft laws for the Criminal Code and the issue of discrimination would be addressed.
Regarding the point made by the Country Rapporteur about two universities having been burnt down; the delegation indicated that there was one university which had been damaged in May 2010, before the ethnic conflicts had taken place. This university was not operating because its owner had left the country and the institution’s legal status was unclear. Following the events of 2010 its students had been transferred to a number of other academic institutions and every effort had been made to facilitate the transfer process. The Kyrgyz-Uzbek University continued to operate and a number of ethnic Uzbeks and Uzbek citizens studied there, however, Uzbekistan no longer recognized its diplomas.
Concerning multilingual education, which was of major importance to Kyrgyzstan, the delegation said that the implementation of multicultural and multilingual education was being worked on. There had been pilot projects since 2000, based on the Swiss model of language learning, and since 2011 such programmes had been introduced in 10 schools.
Responding to questions about the media the delegation said that, after the conflict, the owners of television channels that operated in Uzbek had not resumed their activities and some of them had been found guilty of crimes and had left the country. Currently there were three radio stations and three newspapers operating in Uzbek, in addition to several regional newspapers in Uzbek as well as in Kyrgyz and Russian. Moreover, it had been decided that news in the Uzbek language would be broadcast on Channel 7, despite a number of citizens had demonstrated against this measure on 15 January.
In response to questions about the use of hate speech in the media in order to incite racial intolerance, legal measures would be taken against persons found guilty of using the media for the purpose of inciting racial hatred. In Kyrgyzstan there was no censorship and was, therefore, difficult to take harsh measures against journalists. The Prosecutor’s Office would normally hand down warnings when newspapers published imbalanced comments. This was a systemic problem which the country was working to resolve.
Regarding the People’s Assembly of Kyrgyzstan, the delegation said that the People’s Assembly was a group of non-governmental organizations that brought together 29 ethnic minorities. It worked to preserve traditions and cultural identity, and dealt with the issue of integrating members of ethnic minorities into public life. However, the Assembly did not have the mandate or the resources to prevent conflicts. A reform of the Assembly was currently being discussed with a view to making it a more effective institution. Following the events of 2010, the Assembly, which had contributed to the consolidation of the unity of the people, had shown that it had a strong civic potential. However, the political situation in the country presented many complexities.
The delegation also said that deputies who represented ethnic minority groups objected to the application of the term “minority” to the ethnic groups to which they belonged. In any case, State bodies tried to avoid the term “minority” and preferred using terms such as “communities” and “groups” instead. Work on that issue could be carried out and there was no objection on the part of State representatives to hold discussions which could then lead to consideration of the matter in Parliament.
The delegation said that policemen had been murdered during the tragic events of 2010 as a result of certain citizens’ opposition to putting an end to social unrest. Training on inter-ethnic management had been organized and special care had been taken to ensure that law enforcement agencies were multiethnic. Concerning the issue of missing weapons, the Ministry of Internal Affairs had taken steps to ensure that lost weapons were returned and compensation had been offered to citizens who returned weapons. Nevertheless, there were still 52 weapons which had disappeared during the events of 2010 and had not yet been located. Checks were being carried out on a regular basis to try to find the weapons.
The delegation said that the poor representation of ethnic minorities in the police force created obstacles to peace-enforcement but also stressed that absolutely no ethnic Uzbeks had been dismissed from the police forces after the events of 2010. On the contrary, ethnic-Uzbek policemen had been actively involved in explanatory work in places where compact ethnic Uzbek settlements were located. To ensure that more ethnic Uzbeks were employed in the police force, especially in the South, a set of measures had been taken, including the provision of training to territorial subdivisions to include Uzbek nationals in the police. New approaches were being elaborated to the rules of operation of law enforcement agencies. However, many young persons living in the south of the country preferred to opt out of serving in the military, this explained why the majority of personnel in the armed forces were Kyrgyz. The military and law enforcement agencies were currently being reformed.
Concerning questions about violence against women from minority groups, especially ethnic Uzbek women, the delegation said that, indeed, serious crimes such as murder and bodily harm had taken place during the events of June 2010. The resolutions of the United Nations Security Council, which required measures to be taken to guarantee the protection of women and girls during conflict situations, had proved to be an efficient instrument in combating violence against women. In addition, a national action plan had been discussed in the competent Ministries and was prepared for approval by the Government. The action plan included measures to investigate all cases of sexual and gender-based violence which had taken place during the conflict; to increase the number of women serving in the law enforcement system; and to ensure the effective cooperation between the Ministry of Interior and various groups representing civil society, including women’s groups. The plan would be implemented in 2013 and 2014 and was expected to prevent gender-based violence in the future. The delegation also said that training on human rights was carried out at all levels in the law enforcement agencies and in non-governmental organizations which worked closely with the police.
The delegation said that following the events of June 2010 the courts had heard over 200 cases. Explanatory work had been carried out among ethnic Uzbeks near the border with Uzbekistan who were leaving the area seeking to ensure that they remained calm and returned to their homes. However, ethnic Uzbeks had kidnapped state officials and tried to use them so they would be allowed to cross the border. Appeals had been made to ethnic Uzbeks to show disobedience to the law enforcement agencies of Kyrgyzstan, which further impeded the work of the police in the area. Military attacks were carried out against the police forces in the area. As a result, members of the police force had been injured, and one policeman was killed and his body was burnt.
In 2010 Mr. Askarov was tried and found guilty of hostage-taking, illegal possession of weapons, the acquisition and possession of extremist material, incitement to ethnic and religious hatred, and participation in mass unrest, and premeditated murder. Evidence used during the trial included testimonies provided by the local population and by the policemen present. Mr. Askarov had received the services of a defence lawyer and all other assistance available and was convicted to a life sentence by the District Court, the Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court.
Regarding the assistance received from the international community in order to tackle ethnic tensions in Kyrgyzstan, the delegation said that neighbouring countries, especially Russia, had provided humanitarian aid after the events of 2010. The role played by the President of Uzbekistan, who helped to stabilize the situation in the region, was greatly appreciated. Uzbekistan had also accepted displaced persons from Kyrgyzstan, offered them assistance and subsequently organized their return to Kyrgyzstan. The possibility of acceding to a number of international instruments, as per the suggestions of the Committee, was being considered.
Since 2000 more than 9,000 asylum seekers had received Kyrgyz citizenship. 20,000 ethnic Kyrgyz persons who had moved to Kyrgyzstan from other countries had also become Kyrgyz citizens. There were provisions for citizens of former Soviet Union countries who had not obtained the citizenship of another State to obtain Kyrgyz citizenship.
Follow- up Questions by Experts
An Expert noted that the Human Rights Ombudsman currently had B-state and said that Kyrgyzstan had to look into the reasons for which the Ombudsman had been denied A-status. He also asked whether Kyrgyzstan was going to take the necessary steps to establish a real, full-fledged, institution with A-status and in line with the Paris Principles. Moreover, could the delegation provide more information on measures taken by Kyrgyzstan in order to carry out a fair investigation on the tragic events of 2010? The issues of cross-border terrorism and the proximity of Kyrgyzstan to Afghanistan were also raised.
Another Expert said that any closure of academic institutions was a loss for the students and for the country and its people as a whole. Therefore, universities that were no longer operating should be reopened and students should have the opportunity to study in their native language as well as the official State languages. Closing of a university because its owner or owners had fled the country following their conviction in the criminal courts pointed to possible problems in the Kyrgyz judicial system, and the way in which charges were brought and trials were held. Therefore, legal procedures had to be comprehensively reviewed because many of these might be found to be lacking in fairness.
Response by the Delegation
The situation in the country was complex but there were many forces working in Kyrgyzstan to prevent similar ethnic conflicts from erupting in the future and continuous steps were being taken to ensure that justice prevailed. Kyrgyzstan looked forward to the recommendations made by the Committee so that priorities could be identified in their efforts to move forward and overcome obstacles.
The statuses defined by the Constitution and the law that specified the procedure for the election and annual reporting of the Ombudsman had been affected by the transition of the country from a presidential to a parliamentary republic. The process was still ongoing and was creating problems for the functioning of certain institutions such as the ombudsman. Any move towards obtaining A-status for an independent, strong institution was highly desirable and Kyrgyzstan was prepared to take steps in that direction.
An International Independent Commission had been created following a request by Kyrgyzstan. Its objective was the independent investigation of the events of June 2010. The Kyrgyz government had fully cooperated with that investigation and had provided all the information required. The main recommendations of the Commission had been taken onboard by Kyrgyzstan and would be implemented, and the results of its investigation had also been made publicly available.
Kyrgyzstan was aware of security issues facing the country. There were different branches of Salafism in the country and, moreover, there was a transit centre through which goods were transferred to Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan was aware of the danger that it might be used for drug-trafficking. Kyrgyzstan fully understood the dangers posed by international terrorism and was stepping up its efforts to prevent terrorist events. Acts of terrorism and terrorist movements were banned and several cases of terrorism had been brought to justice in recent years. An anti-terrorist centre had been created and dealt with issues of coordination in order to counter terrorist threats. The country had also stepped up cooperation with existing organizations fighting terrorism.
Concerning education, the procedures that had led to the adoption of the decision to abolish tests in Uzbek and other minority languages would be carefully looked at and reviewed if necessary.
Regarding questions on transitional justice, there was an instrument in place to ensure the review of case-rulings and legal proceedings which might have been suspected of being unfair. That instrument was open to everyone, including civil society.
ION DIACONU, Country Rapporteur for Kyrgyzstan, said that dialogue with the delegation had been fruitful. It was encouraging that reforms and institutional changes had already taken place and the Committee hoped that the momentum would be preserved. The Committee strongly encouraged Kyrgyzstan to proceed with the necessary reforms. Citizens should be allowed and encouraged to speak in their native languages at all times and should be given the opportunity to participate in public life. Transitional justice was an important issue for rebuilding of citizens’ confidence in the judicial system. Mr. Diaconu also underlined the role that political figures and bodies could play in facilitating reforms. Citizens should be informed of the measures that were being taken by the Government to prevent discrimination, to prevent ethnic conflicts, to build a State of law, and to respect the rights of all persons irrespective of the ethnic group to which they belonged. There was still a lot of work to be carried out, so prioritizing was important. Reform of the judicial system, of legislation and of law enforcement bodies should be given priority. At the same time, measures should be taken to eliminate economic disparities between rural and urban populations, so that economic and social problems did not become a source of animosity and conflict between different groups. The overall objective should be to build a climate of trust in the country, in close cooperation with international organizations and with non-governmental organizations operating in Kyrgyzstan.
MIRA KARYBAEVA, Chief of the Division of Ethnic, Religious Policies and Interaction with Civil Society, President’s Office of the Kyrgyz Republic, thanked Committee Experts and the Country Rapporteur for the attention they had given to the report of Kyrgyzstan. The recommendations of the Committee would help the country to move in the right direction. The situation of ethnic groups in Kyrgyzstan was complex and difficult, and Ms. Karybaeva was pleased the Committee had recognized this.
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