Kazakh Court Upholds Landmark Ruling On Police Torture

 January 23, 2014
A court in the northern Kazakh region of Qostanai has ruled to uphold a decision to award compensation to a man who was tortured by police in 2007.

Construction worker Aleksandr Gerasimov says he suffered permanent health and psychological damage after police beat him and repeatedly held a plastic bag over his face to induce suffocation.

A judge last November ruled that local police officials should pay Gerasimov 2 million tenges ($13,000) in compensation for his suffering.

Police had appealed the verdict, but their case was thrown out in the January 23  ruling, which clears the way for Gerasimov to receive his payment from the regional division of the Kazakh Interior Ministry.

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The incident was the first Central Asian abuse case to go before the UN Committee Against Torture. In 2012, the committee found Kazakhstan to be in violation of UN torture conventions and urged Kazakh officials to investigate the case and prevent further such abuse.

Anastassia Miller, a lawyer with the Qostanai branch of the Kazakh International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, said she was "very happy" with the ruling, which sets a historic precedent for Kazakhs and other Central Asians seeking redress for police torture.

Human Rights Watch, in its new World Report released this week, said that more than 200 complaints of police abuse were registered in the first half of 2013 alone.