Commission Mandate Should Include Role of Government Forces
July 7, 2010
The government’s request for an independent international commission is an important step. Now everyone involved with the process needs to make sure the commission has the expertise, mandate, and authority it needs to make its work meaningful.
Ole Solvang, emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch

(Osh) - A planned independent international commission of inquiry into the recent violence in southern Kyrgyzstan should investigate all aspects of the violence, including the role of government forces, Human Rights Watch said today.

The Kyrgyz interim government set the establishment of the commission in motion on July 6, 2010, with a request to an official of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to "coordinate the preparation process" for an independent international commission of inquiry into the violence.

"The government's request for an independent international commission is an important step," said Ole Solvang, emergencies researcher at Human Rights Watch. "Now everyone involved with the process needs to make sure the commission has the expertise, mandate, and authority it needs to make its work meaningful."

The independent inquiry by the commission should include an examination of any liability by government forces for crimes and abuses committed, and it should make recommendations to ensure that all parties responsible for abuses are held accountable, Human Rights Watch said.

The Commission's mandate should also extend to the aftermath of the  June 10 to 14 violence, including security operations by Kyrgyz law enforcement agencies in southern Kyrgyzstan in recent weeks.

Human Rights Watch's research in southern Kyrgyzstan indicates that the authorities largely failed to prevent the massive violence and to protect the population. It also found that some individual members of government forces may have been involved in violent attacks. Human Rights Watch has repeatedly called on the Kyrgyz government to request an international investigation into the June violence to supplement the national investigation.

Credible information obtained by Human Rights Watch indicates that the Commission will be chaired by the Parliamentary Assembly's special representative for Central Asia, Kimmo Kiljunen, and is intended to include internationally recognized experts from intergovernmental and regional organizations. Human Rights Watch supported inclusion of such experts and urged the Kyrgyz government to request involvement by the United Nations in particular.  The commission should include investigators, regional specialists, forensic experts - medical and non-medical, and experts in international human rights law, Human Rights Watch said.

"The credibility of the commission will depend in part on its composition and the qualifications of its members," Solvang said. "Relevant institutions should promptly nominate qualified experts to participate in the work of the commission."

Human Rights Watch called on the Kyrgyz government to cooperate fully with the commission's work and to ensure that it has unimpeded access to witnesses, hospital and police records, forensic evidence, official communications, and all other relevant information. Until the commission is ready to begin its work, Kyrgyz authorities should do everything possible to preserve evidence relevant to the investigation, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch also called upon the Kyrgyz government to make sure that its own national investigation is prepared to incorporate the findings of the international commission and to take the necessary steps once the investigations are completed to ensure justice for victims and accountability for the perpetrators.