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Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance

& Other Ill Treatment

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                                


Conditions in pretrial detention facilities and prisons are harsh. Police at times use excessive force during arrests, and torture is widely employed to obtain confessions, with numerous allegations of physical abuse and other mistreatment documented each year.

[Freedom House Country Report, 2020

Description: Description: Description: Kazakhstan


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Kazakhstan.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Torture by Authorities are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the moral justification for inflicting pain or inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment in order to obtain critical information that may save countless lives, or to elicit a confession for a criminal act, or to punish someone to teach him a lesson outside of the courtroom.  Perhaps your paper might focus on some of the methods of torture, like fear, extreme temperatures, starvation, thirst, sleep deprivation, suffocation, or immersion in freezing water.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the people acting in an official capacity who perpetrate such cruelty.  There is a lot to the subject of Torture by Authorities.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.

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HRW Urges Kazakhstan To Investigate Torture Allegations, End Abuse Of Detainees

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1 February 2022

[accessed 1 Feb 2022]

HRW said in a statement on February 1 that it had received "credible reports" of dozens of cases in which police "arbitrarily detained peaceful protesters" and others and subjected some detainees to ill-treatment and torture, including with electric shocks and beatings with batons.

The report added that the group had documented cases of authorities arbitrarily interfering in the work of lawyers as they tried to handle cases.

'They Would Hang Me By The Arms': Hundreds Of Letters From Kazakh Prisons Describe Alleged Torture

Ayan Kalmurat & Aya Renaud, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL Kazakh Service, 22 July 2021

[accessed 22 July 2021]

Former inmates at prisons in Kazakhstan are sharing harrowing details of what they describe as “torture” at the hands of their jailers.

“An officer pulled me out of the cell and began strangling me as others looked on. Then he hit me repeatedly on the head and in my face,” said one former inmate of a prison in Almaty, whose name is being withheld out of concern for his safety.

“Next, five officers handcuffed me and dragged me into a specially adapted torture chamber to drown me in a water container,” he said. “I was tortured there until I passed out.’.

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Kazakhstan

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 22 July 2021]


On February 3, the Kapshagay district court convicted seven officers of Zarechniy prison of torture. The court sentenced Deputy Director for Behavioral Correction Arman Shabdenov and Deputy Director for Operations Jexenov to seven years in jail, and the others received sentences ranging from five to six years in jail.

On April 1, Yerbolat Askarov, director of the operations unit of a prison in Shakhtinsk near Karaganda, was sentenced to two-and-a-half years’ probation for torturing prisoners in addition to a three-year ban on work in penitentiary institutions.

On January 23, more than 200 prisoners in Uralsk prison RU-170/3 were severely beaten by National Guard soldiers brought in by prison administrators to search for contraband.

Prisoners stated that the soldiers beat prisoners, kept them outdoors in frigid temperatures for three hours with inadequate clothing, destroyed personal items, and verbally abused them. After the raid prison officials did not let prisoners visit the infirmary.


Physical Conditions: The NPM reported many concerns including poor health and sanitary conditions; poor medical services, including for prisoners suffering from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and diabetes; high risk of torture during search, investigation, and transit to other facilities; lack of feedback from prosecutors on investigation of torture complaints; lack of communication with families; discrimination against prisoners in vulnerable groups, including prisoners with disabilities and prisoners with HIV/AIDS; censorship; and a lack of secure channels for submission of complaints.


On June 1, three men died, and two required intensive care as a result of an alleged poisoning in a Kokshetau detention facility, according to press accounts. Most of those affected were detained for traffic violations. Activists criticized authorities for failure to apply alternatives to incarceration for such minor offenses.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 15 May 2020]


Conditions in pretrial detention facilities and prisons are harsh. Police at times use excessive force during arrests, and torture is widely employed to obtain confessions, with numerous allegations of physical abuse and other mistreatment documented each year. In July 2019, five prison officers working at a prison near Almaty were arrested and charged with torturing inmates, after graphic footage revealed their activities.

 Suspended Like Fresh Meat”: Torture Memories from an Ethnic Kazakh

Bitter Winter, 17 April 2019

[accessed 13 May 2019]

I was taken to the traffic police brigade because I violated traffic regulations. After arriving at the traffic police brigade, they said that I had a record of other violations and that an investigation would be required. Afterwards, they took me away. They tied me onto an iron stool and kept interrogating me: “We found out about your criminal record. You’re hiding things and must confess. If you confess, you will be dealt with leniently. If you resist, you will be dealt with severely.” After I told them that in fact, I never broke any laws, they knocked me unconscious with an electric baton.

There is also a torture chamber in the prison. Inside the room, there is a row of iron hooks used specially for hanging meat in slaughterhouses. They made us stand on small stools while wearing handcuffs. They placed iron hooks between the handcuffs, and then moved the stools away, leaving us suspended like fresh meat. They used wooden sticks to whip our row of “fresh meat,” like whacking a hanging blanket. At the time, they whipped me to the point that I fainted. When I woke up, I discovered that I had been taken back to my cell.

Several Sentenced In Kazakh Prison Inmate's Torture Death

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL Kazakh Service, Shakhtinsk, 6 August 2018

[accessed 3 September 2018]

Several people have been sentenced to prison terms of seven to eight years after being convicted of involvement in the torture and death of an inmate in Kazakhstan.

In an August 6 ruling, the Shakhtinsk city court in the central Qaraghandy region found a deputy warden of Corrective Colony AK-159/6, Bauyrbek Shotaev, and an officer of the prison's operative unit, Vitaly Zaretsky, guilty of organizing a crime, premeditated infliction of bodily and psychological harm, and manslaughter.

The court found six inmates of the prison guilty of beating and torturing fellow inmate Valery Chupin with electric shock at Zaretsky's orders in March 2017. They were sentenced to prison terms between seven and eight years.

Three Kazakh Police Officers Sentenced For Torture

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL Kazakh Service, Aqtobe, 18 March 2015

[accessed 31 March 2015]

Three Kazakh police officers have been convicted and sentenced to prison for torturing a suspect in a rare ruling in the Central Asian state.

After convicting the three defendants at a trial on March 17, a court in the northwestern city of Aqtobe sentenced two of them to three years in prison apiece for torturing a man suspected of stealing a piece of jewelry.

Kazakh authorities often brush aside such criticism or deny torture accusations, but there have been some recent cases in which police have been prosecuted on suspicion of torture.

In January 2013, a court in the northern region of Qostanai set a precedent for Kazakhs and other Central Asians seeking redress for police torture by upholding a decision to award compensation to a man who was tortured by the police in 2007.

In November 2013, two police officers in the northern Aqmola region were sentenced to three years in jail for torture.

In July 2014, a court in the western city of Atyrau sentenced three police officers to prison terms of between one and two years for torturing a suspect.

Last month, two police officers in the northern city of Pavlodar were sentenced to one year in jail each for torturing a suspect.

Kazakhstan: Justice must prevail for torture victim Rasim Bayramov

FIDH - Worldwide Human Rights Movement, 28 January 2015

[accessed 11 August 2015]

Back in 2008, police officers of the city of Rudny in Kostanay region detained Rasim Bayramov following witness statements accusing him of having stolen some money and three bottles of beer from a local store. Police held him at the local police station without access to a lawyer and tortured and ill-treated him to extract a confession for two and a half days. Rasim Bayramov later recounted that police officers kicked and beat him all over his body, pushed him off a chair, dragged him along the corridor by his hair, and threatened him with sexual violence if he did not confess; they deprived him of sleep at night and gave him nothing to eat or drink for over two days. When he lost consciousness, police poured water on him and continued torturing him. Eventually, they forced him into signing a confession. Although Rasim Bayramov and his mother repeatedly complained about the torture and procedural violations to the Department of Internal Affairs and the Prosecutor’s Office, no effective investigation was opened into the allegations. During the trial Rasim Bayramov told the judge about police torture and retracted his confession, but Rudny City Court ignored the allegations and sentenced Rasim to five years’ imprisonment based on evidence including the forced confession.

Human Rights Watch World Report 2015 - Events of 2014

Human Rights Watch, 29 January 2015 or

[accessed 18 March 2015]


TORTURE - National Preventative Mechanism Coordination Council monitors began detention visits in 2014. Some police officers faced charges of torture, but impunity remains the norm. According to media reports, on several occasions in 2014, detainees’ relatives publicly raised concerns about mass beatings and ill-treatment in detention. At its November review of Kazakhstan,the United Nations Committee Against Torture (CAT) expressed concern about the gap between law and practice and continued impunity for torture.

UN Committee against Torture’s Concluding Observations on Sweden, Ukraine, Venezuela, Australia, Burundi, USA, Croatia and Kazakhstan

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights OHCHR, Geneva, 24 November 2014

[accessed 7 December 2014]

The UN Committee against Torture will be holding a news conference to discuss the concluding observations of its 53rd session ... Among the issues discussed during the session:

KAZAKHSTAN: Torture and ill-treatment to extract "voluntary confessions" to show crimes solved; disregard of complaints about torture in judicial proceedings; forced placement in psychiatric institutions of anti-corruption activists, human rights defenders; high number of deaths in custody, especially of persons infected with HIV/AIDs; high incidence of violence among prisoners; use of internal troops, including masked guards, to maintain security in prison.

Committee Against Torture Considers The Report Of Kazakhstan

United Nations Office at Geneva UNOG, 18 November 2014

Office of the United Nations High Commissioner of Human Rights OHCHR, 18 November 2014

[accessed 4 December 2014]

[accessed 4 December 2014]

During the discussion Committee Experts noted positive developments such as the creation of a national preventive mechanism and the zero-tolerance policy to crimes of torture.  The use of torture and ill treatment to obtain confessions went beyond isolated incidents, said Experts, expressing concern about the gap between legislation and protection from torture.  Less than two per cent of complaints of torture led to prosecution, noted Experts, also asking about reports that the National Security Committee used rented apartments or houses as unofficial places of detention.

Torture Victim Wins Landmark Ruling

Joanna Lillis, Inside the cocoon, Central Asia Today, 23 January 2014

[accessed 25 Jan 2014]

A man in northern Kazakhstan who was the victim of police torture has won a seven-year legal battle for damages, after a court upheld a ruling that he is entitled to financial compensation for his injuries.

The ruling was handed down by an appeals court in Kostanay on January 23, local newspaper Nasha Gazeta reported. Police must now pay some $13,000 in compensation to 44-year-old Aleksandr Gerasimov for injuries they inflicted by beating him up and suffocating him with a plastic bag in police detention to extract a confession in 2007. Gerasimov was arrested after going to a police precinct looking for his stepson, who had been rounded up during a murder investigation.

The Massacre Everyone Ignored: Up To 70 Striking Oil Workers Killed In Kazakhstan By US-Supported Dictator

Mark Ames, The Exiled, 19 December 2011

[accessed 6 December 2014]

With violence and government crackdowns making headlines from so many familiar parts of the world, there’s hardly been a peep in the media about the biggest and ugliest massacre of all: Last Friday in Kazakhstan, riot police slaughtered up 70 striking oil workers, wounding somewhere between 500 and 800, and arresting scores. Almost as soon as the massacre went down in the western regional city of Zhanaozen, the Kazakh authorities cut off access to twitter and cell phone coverage–effectively cutting the region off from the rest of the world, relegating the massacre into the small news wire print.

Conclusions and recommendations of the Committee against Torture

U.N. Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment  -- Doc. A/56/44, paras. 121-129 (2001)

[accessed 2 March 2013]

D. Subjects of concern

128. The Committee expresses its concern about the human rights situation in general, and in particular about the following:

(a) The absence of a definition of torture, as provided in article 1 of the Convention, in the Criminal Code of the State party and the lack of a specific offence of torture, with the result that torture is not punishable by appropriate penalties, as required in article 4, paragraph 2, of the Convention;

(b) The allegations of acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment committed by law-enforcement officials of the State party or with their acquiescence, including beatings and other actions in breach of the Convention against political opponents of the Government;

(c) The insufficient level of independence and effectiveness of the procuracy, in particular as the Procurator has the competence to exercise oversight on the appropriateness of the duration of pre-trial detention;

(d) The pattern of failure of officials, including the procuracy, to provide in every instance prompt, impartial and full investigations into allegations of torture reported to the authorities, as well as a failure to prosecute alleged perpetrators, as required by articles 12 and 13 of the Convention. The Committee appreciates, but expresses concern, over the Government's acknowledgement of superficial investigations, destruction of evidence, intimidation of victims, and forced repudiation of testimony by investigators and personnel of the Ministry of Internal Affairs;

(e) Allegations that judges refuse to take into account evidence of torture and ill-treatment provided by the accused with regard to his/her treatment by law enforcement officials;

(f) The insufficient level of independence of the judiciary, with judges whose tenure lacks certain necessary safeguards;

(g) The insufficient level of guarantees for the independence of defence counsel;

(h) The overcrowding and lack of access to adequate medical care in prisons and pre-trial detention centres, and particularly in juvenile detention centres, where there are reports of incidents of self-mutilation by detainees; and concern that alternatives to imprisonment are not available to detainees and that the failure to provide adequate corrective programmes, education and training create situations leading to heightened recidivist levels;

(i) The criterion for success by investigators is the number of solved crimes, which can lead to pressure upon detainees to "confess" as a result of actions in breach of the Convention.

(j) The absence of information in the report regarding torture and ill-treatment affecting women and girls, particularly in view of the rise in imprisonment rates of females and allegations of abusive treatment of women in police custody.

Central Asia: Widespread Rights Abuse, Repression

Human Rights Watch, Berlin, 31 January 2013

[accessed 3 February 2013]

Kazakh and Uzbek authorities intensified persecution of outspoken government critics in 2012, while none of the five Central Asian governments seriously tackled longstanding, grave human rights abuses, such as widespread impunity for torture, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2013.

In December, courts in Almaty muzzled critical voices by banning Alga! and key independent media outlets from operating in Kazakhstan in rushed trials, labeling them “extremist. Kazakhstan’s rights record was also marred in 2012 by credible and serious allegations of torture, as well as the death of a 50-year old man in December 2011 after he was severely beaten up by police officers while in custody.

Kyrgyzstan is still grappling with the aftermath of the June 2010 ethnic clashes in the south that left hundreds dead and thousands injured. Despite an uneasy calm in southern Kyrgyzstan, the authorities are still detaining, torturing, and extorting money from ethnic Uzbeks, without redress, despite Kyrgyzstan’s adoption in 2012 of a national prevention mechanism against torture. A human rights defender, Azimjon Askarov, is serving a life sentence, despite a prosecution marred by torture and serious violations of fair trial standards.


For current articles:: Search Amnesty International Website

[accessed 6 January 2019]

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Freedom House Country Report - Political Rights: 6   Civil Liberties: 5   Status: Not Free

2009 Edition

[accessed 3 February 2013]

LONG URL   ç 2009 Country Reports begin on Page 21

[accessed 13 May 2020]

The constitution significantly constrains the independence of the judiciary, making it subservient to the executive branch. Judges are subject to bribery and political bias, and corruption is evident throughout the judicial system. Conditions in pretrial facilities and prisons are harsh. Police at times abuse detainees during arrest and interrogation, often to obtain confessions, and arbitrary arrest and detention remain problems. Allegations of coerced confessions dogged the trial of Yerzhan Utembayev for the killing of opposition leader Altynbek Sarsenbayev in 2006. Investigations of several former associates of Rakhat Aliyev after the latter’s exile appear to be politically motivated. The former deputy director of the National Security Committee (KNB), Zhomart Mazhrenov, reportedly hanged himself in a KNB detention facility in July 2008. He had been charged with abuse of power in a case linked to Aliyev, and with electronic surveillance of top officials. His apparent suicide, which took place under suspicious circumstances, meant that he would not face trial or testify in court.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 3 February 2013]

[accessed 4 July 2019]

TORTURE AND OTHER CRUEL, INHUMAN, OR DEGRADING TREATMENT OR PUNISHMENT – The law prohibits such practices, but police and prison officials at times tortured, beat, and otherwise abused detainees, often to obtain confessions. In its Human Rights Commission's annual report, the government acknowledged that torture and other illegal methods of investigation were still used by some law enforcement officers. Human rights and international legal observers noted investigative and procuratorial practices that overemphasized a defendant's confession of guilt over collecting other types of evidence in building a criminal case against a defendant.

The government reported authorities filed 47 criminal cases against law enforcement officers for physical abuse during the year. 11 detainee deaths, including 6 suicides, were registered during the year at 222 pretrial detention facilities. The ombudsman's office reported 169 citizen complaints during the first half of the year, a substantial number of which were allegations of abuse by law enforcement.

On January 10, Mangistau police arrested Nurzhan Zheksemaliev and Zhenisbek Rakhmamedov on theft charges. Human rights observers received reports that the young men were beaten during interrogation.

In July, two policemen in Petropavlosk received four-year suspended prison sentences for the September 2004 beating of Viktor Deviatkin. Police came to Deviatkin's house seeking Deviatkin's son, who was not at home. When Deviatkin refused to admit the officers, the police broke in, dragged Deviatkin out of the house, and took him to the police station, where he was beaten for hours before he was released.

In July the media reported the case of Kazbek Ramazanov, a teacher arrested in 2000 for suspected murder in the disappearance of his mentally disabled female student. While in police custody, Ramazanov confessed under torture to the killing. The missing student was eventually discovered alive, and Ramazanov was exonerated. Ramazanov filed a complaint against his abusers, who were convicted during the year.

No charges had been brought by year's end and none were expected in the 2003 case of a district deputy procurator and two other men who brutally beat a 14-year-old girl at a cafe. According to the victim's parents, the district deputy procurator exerted pressure on witnesses in the case, discouraging them from testifying.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Torture by Police, Forced Disappearance & Other Ill Treatment in the early years of the 21st Century- Kazakhstan ",, [accessed <date>]