From the 27th of April to the 1st of May 2015, two members of the National Centre for the Prevention of Torture, the Kyrgyz National Preventive Mechanism (NPM), participated in a capacity-building and consultation week in Vienna, designed to meet the interests and needs of the Kyrgyz NPM, implemented by Ms. Tiphanie Crittin and Ms. Andrea Schuechner (BIM). Ms. Natalya Khripchenko and Mr. Zakirzhan Amanbaev met with several European NPMs, carried out monitoring visits jointly with their Austrian peers, and attended an international conference on best practices of EU NPMs.
After an official welcome at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights (BIM) by Prof. Hannes Tretter, co-director of the Institute, the Kyrgyz delegation met at the Austrian Ombuds Office with Dr. Fichtenbauer, one of the three Ombudspersons/members of the Austrian Ombudsman Board (AOB), as well as with Ms. Martina Cerny, Chief of Cabinet, and Ms. Victoria Schmid, Secretariat OPCAT. At the AOB, to which the NPM is an integral part, the delegation received a presentation on the NPM, its history, structure, mandate and expertise.
More information on the visit of the Kyrgyz National Center for the Prevention of Torture at the Austrian Ombudsman Board can be found here.
The delegation also had the opportunity to meet with Mr. Walter Suntinger, NPM Commission 4 member, as well as Ms. Stephanie Krisper, coordinator of Commission 5. This meeting provided the opportunity to exchange on current challenges the experts face in their monitoring and reporting work. The delegation also met with Prof. Manfred Nowak, co-director of the BIM, former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, and head of the NPM Commission 5, with whom they discussed the core functions and responsibilities of National Preventive Mechanisms.
Two joint monitoring visits were organised for the Kyrgyz delegation, who accompanied the Austrian NPM (Ms. Marijana Grandits and Ms. Maria Schernthaner) to a home for elderly people with psychiatric disorders (run by the NGO Caritas) in order to observe the very specific methods of monitoring in the context of social care homes and homes for persons with special needs. The group also visited a police station in Florisdorf where they could review the facilities.
The second monitoring visit took them to the department of acute care for geriatric patients of Hietzing hospital. Together with Ms. Petra Prangl, Ms. Christine Pemmer and Ms. Caroline Paar of Commission 4, the Kyrgyz NPM held a briefing with the medical staff, received documents, held interviews with patients and saw both the infrastructure and equipment of the facility. This monitoring visit was the occasion to observe the methodology used by the Austrian NPM in medical facilities for elderly patients.
The Kyrgyz delegation was also invited to LOKal, a non-profit café/bookshop/vinyl store run by an NGO which offers employment to persons with psychological and psychiatric disabilities and which constitutes a place of social reinsertion.
On 29 April, the Kyrgyz NPM attended a conference organised by the Boltzmann Institute of Human Rights on “Strengthening the effective implementation and follow-up of recommendations by torture monitoring bodies in the EU”. At the conference, the Good Practice Study on the follow-up of NPM’s recommendations in Europe, jointly produced by the BIM and the Human Rights Implementation Centre of the University of Bristol (HRIC), was presented and discussed. It also provided the Kyrgyz delegation with the chance to exchange experiences and strengthen cooperation with NPMs of the EU region.
The two Kyrgyz NPM members also met with Ms. Mari Amos, member of the UN Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture (SPT), with whom they could share their newly published annual report, and discuss their concerns related to a new draft bill in the Kyrgyz Parliament, which, if passed, would reduce the independence of the NPM and hamper its work.
The delegation furthermore held a meeting with Ms. Eva Csergö from the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT). Mr. Amanbaev and Ms. Khripchenko also met bilaterally with Ms. Silvia Casale, former head of the SPT, as well as with Ms. Anne-Sophie Bonnet, member of the French NPM, and representatives of the NPMs of Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands and the Russian Visiting Boards. Finally, they visited the Headquarters of the United Nations. Ms. Nina Tumanyan and Ms. Oksana Kruts provided interpretation for each meeting and joined the delegation the whole week.
The visit was organised by BIM within the project of “Strengthening the fight against torture and impunity in Kyrgyzstan: Prevention, Accountability, Remedy and Reparation”, funded by the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights of the European Commission. The visit was co-financed by the generous support of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE Center, Bishkek) and the Council of Europe.