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NEWS

How to prevent coercion? Focus on the incentives at a side-event in Bishkek

admin - November 29, 2018 - Torture

 

The ways to reduce confession-oriented criminal justice systems and institutional incentives to coercion were discussed at an event organised by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and Fair Trials in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on 27 November. The discussion, which was organised on the margins of the Seventh Expert Forum on Criminal Justice for Central Asia, examined how to strengthen or effectively implement safeguards against torture and other ill-treatment.

After the introduction by Stephanie Selg, ODIHR Adviser on Torture Prevention, the participants, Parvina Navruzova, independent expert from Tajikistan, Gulnara Ishankhanova, defence lawyer from Uzbekistan, Aiman Umarova, defence lawyer from Kazakhstan, and Andy Griffiths, police expert from the UK, discussed existing practices in the development of criminal cases and the role of coercion in confession-based criminal justice systems. The discussion was moderated by Jago Russell, Fair Trials’ Chief Executive.

The participants pointed out how crime-solving quotas in the promotion and performance evaluation can create incentives for coercion for law enforcement officials, investigative police officers, prosecutors and judges. An incentive for coercion can also be created through torture evidence not being challenged or excluded in criminal proceedings. The overreliance on confession evidence is part of the problem and more needs to be done to ensure that torture is not used to obtain confessions.

“In the field of torture prevention, traditionally, a strong focus is placed on the establishment and implementation in law and practice of procedural safeguards, as well as on the treatment of prisoners and conditions of detention,” said Stephanie Selg. “Much less has been said and done about why torture still happens and what the existing incentives are. These questions should be addressed to assist states in living up to their commitment to eradicating torture and other ill-treatment in the OSCE region.”

Jago Russell said: “Coercion is fuelling a vision of criminal justice that is only focused on 'efficiency', creating a conveyor belt of criminal justice that does not respect human rights. Coercion can take numerous forms, beyond torture itself, and can include the abuse of plea-bargaining and pre-trial detention.”

There are alternatives to coercive questioning, for example investigative interviewing, which were presented and discussed. The discussion also considered ways forward through promising legislative measures and reform practices from the Central Asian region and beyond.

To learn more about the reliance on torture evidence, you can read the report ‘Tainted by Torture: Examining the Use of Torture Evidence’ by Fair Trials and REDRESS here.

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on +44 (0) 20 7822 2370 or +32 (0) 2 360 04 71.

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