It is well known that ensuring the rights and interests of persons in institutions with restricted freedom of movement is quite a complicated process. This is due to the fact that incidents in institutions where people with restricted freedom of movement are held are not always under public scrutiny.
That is why on December 18, 2002, UN General Assembly Resolution 57/199 established the National Preventive Mechanism (NPM) in accordance with the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
In 2019, the National Preventive Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment under the Ombudsman was established based on international best practices and secured by appropriate legislation. According to it, the Ombudsman will take measures to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment through regular visits to places of detention.
The term "public monitoring", which is now widely used, has been used in recent years even in relation to places of detention. Representatives of non-governmental organizations and civil society institutions were also included in an expert group created under the Ombudsman to assist in preventing torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
The expert group conducts monitoring visits to places of detention for persons with restricted freedom of movement, that is, places of administrative detention, detention of persons in custody in criminal cases, sentenced to imprisonment, compulsory medical institutions.
To date, 46 monitoring visits have been carried out in 2019, 71 in 2020 and 128 in 2021. As a result, parliamentary and public oversight was established in order to prevent torture.
The number of appeals received from convicts and their close relatives under the NPM has also increased from year to year, and the trust in the Institute of the Authorized Person has grown. According to statistics, in 2017 there were 565 appeals, and by 2020 the number rose to 1,563. In the first 11 months of 2021, there were 2,058 appeals from prisoners and their close relatives.
As a logical continuation of the reforms the Presidential Decree of June 26, 2021 "On additional measures to improve the system of detection and prevention of torture" identified as priorities such areas as bringing the system for detecting and preventing torture in accordance with generally recognized principles and norms of international law in the field of rights human rights, coordination, prompt and impartial consideration of allegations of torture and improvement of the mechanism of inevitable prosecution of perpetrators, provision of social, legal, psychological and medical assistance to victims of torture and compensation for harm caused to them, broad participation of civil society institutions in identification and prevention of torture, and the work of the NPM under the Ombudsman has been improved. In particular, public groups for identification and prevention of cases of torture were created on the basis of the expert group under the Authorized Person for Human Rights. They were instructed to identify cases of torture and submit applications to the corresponding state agency for their prompt elimination, to participate in the consideration of applications of torture, and to develop methodological recommendations for expert evaluation of cases of torture.
In addition, experts of the National Center for Human Rights, medical personnel, representatives of non-governmental organizations, mass media and other civil society institutions are included in the expert groups of the Ombudsman. When selecting experts, professional skills and practical knowledge for conducting monitoring visits and ensuring gender equality was important factor.
It should be noted that media participation in the monitoring process allowed to show the public that state policy in the sphere of human rights has reached closed institutions, and therefore it is an indication that conditions in these institutions meet international standards.
This year, media representatives covering monitoring visits led by the Ombudsman got acquainted with the living, food, work and health conditions of the convicts, and talked to them personally.
During the past period the Ombudsman and Public groups prepared analytical data on the shortcomings identified during the monitoring visits to places of detention of convicts, submitted them to the relevant ministries and departments, and appropriate measures are being taken to eliminate them.
In conclusion it should be noted that the reforms conducted in the country serve to bring the system of detection and prevention of torture in conformity with the generally recognized principles and standards of international human rights law and their successful implementation.
Head of the Department of the Secretariat of the Authorized Person of the Oliy Majlis for Human Rights