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Persons at high risk of HIV infection in Kazakhstan, especially injection drug users and sex workers, face systemic harassment and abuse from police. Police in Kazakhstan are notorious for torturing and otherwise mistreating detainees, which has led to growing public mistrust of law enforcement agencies.73 But they routinely target injecting drug users and sex workers because their marginalized status makes them both easy targets for extortion and unlikely to file official complaints of abuse. Testimony gathered for this report describes cases of arbitrary arrest, verbal and physical mistreatment including beating with a baton or fists, physical abuse in some cases constituting torture, extortion, the planting of evidence on an IDU's or sex worker's person, forced sex (including unprotected sex), and coerced confessions. When police commit these abuses against injection drug users and sex workers, they effectively facilitate the spread of HIV AIDS.

These abuses are a recipe for disaster with respect to HIV/AIDS. They fuel the fears and mistrust sex workers and IDUs have of police, and by extension of other authorities, including government AIDS services. For example, a 2002 study among drug users in nine cities of Kazakhstan revealed that IDUs in Almaty and Shymkent in particular practiced high-risk injecting behavior in part due to police persecution;74 another 2002 study showed that one group of drug users in Shymkent who had begun to inject six to eleven months earlier had 72 percent HIV prevalence.75 Their well-founded fears of official abuse, in turn, discourage these vulnerable persons from seeking information on and treatment for HIV/AIDS. Risky behaviors that could be changed continue unabated.

The abuses are indefensible and cannot be justified as necessary to provide reasonable enforcement of laws related to narcotics use and sex work in Kazakhstan. As a result of having been identified as injection drug users or sex workers, the very people who most need access to accurate information on HIV/AIDS, testing, counseling and other services are either denied access to services because of who they are or subjected to abuse by the authorities. The abuses detailed below thus deepen the social stigma and isolation of marginalized persons, and also make it unlikely that HIV/AIDS prevention or care services will be sought by them or offered respectfully to them.

Police abuse of injection drug users

Our people and society think like this-a drug user is washed up. He's looked upon like a prostitute, like an outcast from society.

      Baljan K. twenty-seven-year-old drug user, Pavlodar, September 2, 2002

Injection drug users are easy arrest targets, not only because of their marginalized status in society but because they can be arrested and convicted for very small amounts of drugs, sometimes as small as one dose of heroin.76 In Kazakhstan, which is home to the third highest per capita prison population in the world at 65,000, one-third of prisoners are reported to be serving sentences based on drug-related convictions.77 Injection drug users, government officials, lawyers, and harm reduction workers all repeatedly told Human Rights Watch that police as a rule do not arrest drug dealers, even when they know where the dealers are located, but prefer the more marginalized and impoverished users.78 Police must also reportedly fill arrest quotas, a holdover practice from the Soviet era,79 and they naturally seek easy targets for arrest.

Regional specialists report that underfunding of police forces, widespread corruption and notorious unprofessionalism has resulted in the direct involvement of police in organized criminal activities throughout Central Asia.80 Kazakhstan is no exception. During the course of research for this report, Human Rights Watch collected repeated and consistent testimony from injection drug users, sex workers, government health officials, and harm reduction workers on law enforcement officials who themselves work as agents in and earn profits from the drug and sex trades.81 Reports of the involvement of law enforcement agents in the drug trade in Tajikistan have been common enough in the past,82 and such reports are becoming more common in Kazakhstan. In July 2002, for example, a high-level officer in the Shymkent regional Ministry of Internal Affairs admitted that, in addition to extortion and abuse of office, drug trafficking was an increasingly frequent charge laid formally against police officers in the south of the country.83 Local human rights organizations recognize that injection drug users are systematically subjected to wide-ranging police abuse and numerous due process violations but to date have not conducted extensive monitoring or reporting of the issue.84

Numerous injection drug users and other persons interviewed by Human Rights Watch indicated that arrests often take place close to drug dealing points, either as users make their way there or as they return with the purchased drugs.85 Moreover, these informants said that although police conduct close and constant surveillance of these locations and detain users, drug dealers themselves are rarely detained. Once apprehended, according to witness accounts, a detainee can be subjected to extortion as an alternative to arrest, can have drugs planted on him or her in order to justify the grounds for the arrest, or can be subjected to threats and physical ill-treatment such as beating with fists or feet. For example, when forty-one-year-old Abdelkasim Begzhanov approached a drug dealing point in Shymkent in March 2000, he claimed that local police at the moment of his arrest planted drugs on his person and beat him. Begzhanov also pointed to reticence on the part of police to apprehend drug dealers:

I was walking there, where they sell [the drugs], they [the police] saw me, took my money, pushed it [the drugs] into my pocket, and beat and beat me . . . there were four to five of them, and I was alone . . . they spread my legs apart and started to beat them [with a club], also on my knees, and then when I was put away they started to beat me on the soles of my feet. . . . you think they [the police] don't know where drugs are sold, who makes them available, but they know perfectly well. They hang out exactly there where the drugs are sold, but they don't catch them, the dealers, you see, they give money [to the police].86

Lena Khopoleva, thirty-seven, from Temirtau, told how in 2002 she had been beaten by police in Temirtau while departing a drug dealing point. She said that law enforcement agents' attitude towards HIV-positive persons reinforces their hostility:

I was beaten not long ago; it was near the "Afghan" store. . . . there were two policemen, it was daytime, they led me into a nearby building in ruins and started to beat me. . . . if they find out that you're HIV-positive, then they say, `Oh, you're the ones, it's because of you, you should all be killed altogether, you aren't human beings'. . . . I was beaten in the head, and on my body, with their fists, I didn't fall down, but then they let me go.87

Sometimes police mistreat injection drug users unable or unwilling to comply with extortion demands. They may try to ensure future cooperation or the guarantee that the victim will not report the abuse by presenting him or her with free drugs.88 Gavkhar S., the mother of an IDU in Pavlodar, stated that in 2001 her son had been severely beaten when detained by police, accused of drug possession, and unable to make the payment proposed in lieu of detention. Police supplied him with drugs to ease the pain that resulted from the beating:

When he was working and able to pay off the police, he did. But during last year . . . he didn't have any money, and they took him to the outskirts of the city, beat him [with a baton], he was bruised all over. Then they said `you're going to be in pain,' put a couple of doses in his pocket, and then, when he came home of course he was hurting, and he went to the bathroom and shot up to get rid of the pain. . . . He didn't make a complaint.89

Police can also extort or harass relatives of injection drug users to maintain psychological pressure regarding a potential arrest. Another mother of a drug user in Pavlodar told Human Rights Watch that when her son was detained for drug possession in 1997, the responsible policeman had offered her son's release in exchange for free sexual services. The mother agreed to meet with the policeman at a later date, following the release of her son; she explained that she had done so to prevent her son's future arrest.90 Injection drug users and their relatives also recounted that relatives will provide money to police to prevent arrests.91 In Almaty, twenty-one-year-old Viktor T. explained that in 2000 he had both avoided an arrest and received drugs confiscated by the police when his parents paid an extortion fee: "When I started using heroin, in 2000, I was caught by the parents helped me come up with U.S.$150 to pay them off. When I delivered the money, they [the police] returned the narcotics to me."92

Women injection drug users said police sometimes resort to conducting body cavity searches close to drug-dealing points, suspecting that women hide drugs inside their bodies. These witnesses said some of these body searches led to sex in exchange for the return of seized drugs. Thirty-seven-year-old Lena Khopoleva told Human Rights Watch that in 2001 in Termirtau while departing a drug dealing site she was undressed by local police during a body cavity search and insulted.

It was about a year and a half ago . . . I was coming back from the yama93 . . . . they lead me into a run-down building nearby, but couldn't find anything on me, so they undressed me, and, frisking me, said, `Now we'll call the gynecologist, we've got our own in the office, he'll have a look inside' . . . or they've said to me in the past, `Come on, work it off, and we'll give you back the drugs.'94

Under the current repressive drug laws, large numbers of injection drug users serve a prison term at one time or another during the period of their addiction.95 Eighty percent of injection drug users interviewed by Human Rights Watch stated that they had received a prison sentence, while official statistics and legal research show that few drug dealers, as opposed to users, are sentenced to prison.96 In partial testimony to the strict application of the law, many convicted IDUs interviewed by Human Rights Watch were serving their fourth or fifth sentences on charges of, generally, drug possession or robbery.97

Procedural safeguards are also either widely abused or absent during pretrial detention, criminal investigations, and trials.98 Among those we interviewed, many injection drug users either could not afford a lawyer, were represented by state-appointed lawyers who provided only a nominal defense, or refused the services of the latter because they lacked faith in state lawyers' willingness to vigorously defend their case.99 Law enforcement officials coerce IDUs through physical mistreatment and psychological pressure to deliver confessions or accept false charges, which enable police to meet alleged criminal case quotas.100 Olga F., a twenty-five-year-old sex worker in Pavlodar, explained that the reason for her two-day detention in 2002 was the need for police to close a robbery case:

I was held at the police station at 5, Lenin Street . . . . it was in April, or the beginning of May . . . They wanted to close up a case . . . a robbery case. . . . what they really want is for us to give them a free subbotnik101. . . . if they can't close the case, then they scream, `prostitute!' and slam the door, pressure her, she ends up admitting to the charges.102

Olga F. did not succumb to pressure, but thirty-two-year-old Nurali Amanzholov, from Temirtau, did. He recounted that he had been detained while in possession of drugs and had been coerced to confess to false robbery charges while in pretrial detention. "The police had had a complaint about a robbery, and they needed to find a thief to accuse. So they pinned it on me. I was lucky because I was released after about thirteen months for lack of evidence [on the robbery charge]," he said.103

Physical abuse is also employed to extract confessions during the criminal investigation process. Amanzholov continued,

If the drug user is beaten and confesses, he is offered a certain charge. If he accepts the charge, for example, if he already committed a robbery and did a sentence, he is told, "Accept this [other] crime [too]." At trial, he'll be prepared to accept more because he will have been beaten solid for two days. One year more or less [in prison] is not going to make much difference to him.104

Drug users interviewed by Human Rights Watch also stated that while in detention many succumb to pressure from law enforcement agents to admit to false charges when supplied by the latter with drugs or temper their complaints about physical abuse when supplied with drugs. Forty-one-year-old Abdelkasim Begzhanov, for example, told Human Rights Watch in Shymkent that he ceased complaints to the prosecutor about torture when pretrial detention center personnel began to supply him with heroin: ". . . [They beat me] with a wooden club. They spread my legs wide apart like this. I had bruises, and I wanted to lodge a complaint with the prosecutor, but they told me, `you won't get anywhere anyway.' And they began to bring me heroin, so that I wouldn't complain, so that I wouldn't have pain, so that I wouldn't go cold turkey. I shut up."105 Other injection drug users and former users said many detainees held in pretrial detention in previous years had confessed to false charges in response to coercive confession techniques applied by officials, and that detention officials had offered drugs to detainees in exchange for confessing to false charges.106 As Vika S., thirty-four, from Temirtau noted, when drug users are arrested:

. . . those who have money just pay off the police. But those that don't have money sometimes have false charges "hung" on them. For a dose he or she will accept robbery charges, for example . . . the police give it to them in the pretrial detention center so that they can shoot up. . . . Some detainees take the drugs because they're really in pain. . . . If he or she has already been convicted for robbery once, then it doesn't make a difference to them, he or she will take even up to five robbery charges. So they [the police] have a robbery solved, for their crime-solving records, and the drug user gets drugs.107

A detainee with drugs has power among other inmates, not least because he or she can share the drugs if so inclined.108

Fifty-two-year-old Sergei T. from Temirtau related that law enforcement officials tampered with material evidence during their criminal investigation to back up the charge against him of possession of an illegal amount of drugs:

I was arrested in 2000, here in Kazakhstan we're put away for 0.5 grams of drugs. It's [0.5 grams] considered a palka [dose]. I had a half palka on me, though . . . when I was arrested [leaving the drug dealing site], I had the drugs in my matchbox, and I tossed the matchbox away from me. Two policemen pounced on me, and started to beat me. I said, "It's not mine." At the trial, I stated that I had bought only a half palka, which doesn't even weigh 0.5 grams, and now you're telling me that I had 0.55 grams. But where in Temirtau can you buy a palka that weighs 0.55 grams? I had 0.2 grams on me at the most. This means that they increased the amount when they did the expertise of the material evidence. . . . I've served eight sentences, thirty years altogether, my whole live I've been put away on drug charges.109

Some witnesses said detainees can often negotiate fees to obtain release from pretrial detention. Kairat D., a twenty-three-year-old former drug user in Termirtau, related that an acquaintance, a casual drug user, had recently bartered his release from detention for U.S.$50. Kairat stated, "Not long ago I ran into my friend, a drug user who injects drugs from time to time. He got caught with a small amount of drugs, they detained him, and he had to give over [U.S.]$50. . . . It was in Temirtau, they asked for [U.S.]$100, but then said, `Well, if you can just come up with $50.' He did that, and got released."110

Law enforcement officials are also reported to extort money from detainees and detainees' relatives in exchange for reducing the length of sentences.111 Several relatives of injection drug users in Pavlodar, for example, alleged that U.S.$1000 could buy one year off a prison sentence.112 The mother of an injection drug user in Pavlodar convicted on a robbery charge recounted that a state-appointed lawyer offered to reduce her son's sentence for U.S.$1000:

A government lawyer named a fixed price-U.S.$1000. They were going to sentence him anyways, but he said the sentence could be reduced to a minimum of three years general regime. When he offered to meet in his car, I sensed that it wasn't a totally clean deal. . . . I said, `I'll come with my husband.'-`No need for two people to come along.' So then I got in the car, and he said, `I can get it down to three years general regime, but you'll have to pay U.S.$1000.' First of all, I don't work, on one salary it's tough, secondly-what for? I said, `Where will I get this money?'-`Borrow it.'-`And to pay it back?'-`That's your problem, aren't you concerned for your son?' He was pressuring me psychologically. I spoke with my relatives, we agreed to a smaller sum, and he lowered his price, too. Our bargaining led to [U.S.]$700.113

Elena T., forty-four, also a relative of an injection drug user from Pavlodar, told Human Rights Watch that she managed to get the U.S.$1000 fee demanded by the state-appointed lawyer down to U.S.$200. She stated,

When my relative was taken in with two grams of heroin, I said, `Let him go, he needs treatment.' And he [the lawyer] said, `One thousand dollars.'-`Do you really think I have that sum?'-`A thousand.'-`I don't have it.' Then he said, `Well, how much can you give?' and we agreed to U.S.$200 . . . but I didn't give it to him, I made sure I wasn't at home the next day. . . . A year off a sentence costs [U.S.]$1000. To get a three-year sentence lifted, you just pay $3000.114

One witness reported that she received a harsher sentence for her infraction because she was HIV-positive. Lena Khopoleva, thirty-seven, asserted that the judge presiding in her trial in 2000 modified her sentence, which would most likely have been a suspended sentence or corrective labor, once her HIV status became known to him:

I had been charged with drugs possession . . . . I had only a very small amount on me. . . they [the prosecutor] requested a year-and-a-half, then they withdrew for a consultation, afterwards they came out and the judge read my sentence. He gave me a year in prison because I'm HIV-positive . . . [he said], `you're HIV-positive and you need to be isolated from society.'115

Police corruption and involvement in the drug trade
As demonstrated above, witnesses report that police persecution of injection drug users is advantageous to the police for both extortion income and filling arrest quotas. Those involved in HIV/AIDS-related activities warn that HIV/AIDS and harm reduction workers will continue to fight an uphill battle as long as these practices continue and as long as police continue to be actively involved in the drug trade.116 Law enforcement officers are alleged to provide protection for drug dealers in exchange for cash payments, and, as indicated above, sometimes provide IDUs with drugs either to ensure silence for abuses or to pressure them to accept false charges. There are allegations that individual police officers are directly engaged in drug dealing.117

Injection drug users and sex workers in every city visited by Human Rights Watch asserted that they had either bought drugs from police officers or knew firsthand of such cases, or had been provided with drugs by law enforcement officers. According to Madina L., a twenty-six-year-old drug user from Karaganda, "We were walking through our neighborhood and saw a local policeman, we had come into contact with him several times, he knew us, and we knew him. He approached us, and said, `Look, I know where you're going, I have six doses, buy them from me.' . . . He had seized them from someone, and then he sold them to us."118 A harm reduction volunteer and former IDU in Almaty pointed out the role of anti-drug enforcement units: "Not long ago an acquaintance of mine was taken in with heroin, he had a few grams, not just a dose, but a few grams. By the way, he bought them from the anti-drug enforcement unit. He gave them [the police] U.S.$500 and they let him go."119

Human Rights Watch also heard repeated and consistent testimony in all regions visited on the availability of drugs in pretrial detention centers and prisons, where detention personnel are reported to engage in the sale of drugs to prisoners. When asked about the availability of drug in detention centers, twenty-three-year-old Dimitri V. in Temirtau said that it came down to money and connections. He explained,

It's pretty easy if you've got the right amount of money, or connections with the police or prison guards . . . . I myself was in the KPZ [kamera predvaritel'nogo zaklucheniia, or temporary holding cell at a police station] in Temirtau, and when I went into one of the cells, I got offered hashish right away. I was surprised, but they said, `Come on, it's so easy, like picking apples off a tree!' I went into another cell, a guy there had just swallowed drugs, because he couldn't boil and inject, there weren't any syringes or the other instruments. He just ate it, swallowed it. It's not a problem, if you've got money you'll get hashish, or heroin, tea, cigarettes, even prostitutes.120

Several injection drug users told Human Rights Watch that they had first become exposed to and started to take drugs in prison, while others explained that they had initiated drug use directly following their release, citing as reasons desperation in the face of unemployment and lack of family and moral support. According to the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), a survey of prisoners conducted in 2002 revealed that drugs were widely accessible in detention facilities, that up to 40 percent of prisoners injected drugs in prison, often with dirty needles, and that up to 20 percent engaged in same-sex activity.121

Police abuse of sex workers

If you're a prostitute, they [the police] think, well, that's the way it is, you're not human.

      Luiza P., twenty-six-year-old sex worker, Shymkent August 24, 2002

I've only been working a short time, five months, not like the other women here who've been working for five or eight years. But I've already been through a lot: I've come home with beaten and with bruises, and I've been on subbotniks, and I've had money taken from me, real chaos - what haven't I been through?!

      Elena M., thirty-two-year-old sex worker, Pavlodar, August 31, 2002

Organized, not individual, sex work is subject to prosecution under the law in Kazakhstan.122 Many sex workers in Kazakhstan's cities are migrants from rural areas and lack official registration documents required to obtain legal residence and city services. Others, for various reasons, including confiscation by law enforcement agents, are missing passports and other personal identification documents.123 This vulnerable status makes them, as with injection drug users, easy and systematic targets for detention and extortion, and leads to further and similar systemic abuses, including verbal and physical mistreatment and rape, often unprotected.

Kazakhstan has seen a dramatic rise in the number of sex workers since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, particularly women and girls, and mostly due to unemployment, falling standards of education, and general desperation. UNAIDS estimates there are 20,000 sex workers in Kazakhstan's main cities.124 Although many female sex workers in cities are migrants from rural areas, Human Rights Watch met with several university-educated women who explained that they had turned to sex work because they could not find other employment or because they were lacking personal identification documents necessary to obtain employment. Several university students indicated that they had entered the sex sector on a part-time basis to pay for their studies.125 Particularly alarming are increasing reports of child sex workers in the south of the country some as young as eight years old, many of whom are alleged to be children of drug- or alcohol-dependent sex worker parents.126

Sex workers in Kazakhstan provide a crucial bridge to the population in the spread of HIV/AIDS as drug users sometimes turn to sex work to support their habit.127 A 2002 study of injection drug users in nine cities of Kazakhstan revealed that 40.3 percent of female IDUs had sold sex to finance their drug habit during the last six months; the study also showed that just 32.2 percent of those surveyed used a condom at the last sexual contact.128 Human Rights Watch also met with and heard of HIV-positive sex workers in each of the five cities visited in Kazakhstan. In Shymkent, the director of an NGO working to support and defend the rights of injection drug users indicated that her organization knew of at least thirty-four HIV-positive sex workers working in that city alone.129

Women sex workers face the stigma associated with their profession and the subordination suffered more generally by Kazakh women. Domestic violence in the country is widespread; in one 1999 study conducted by staff at the Shymkent Venereal Hospital, up to 60 percent of women surveyed indicated that they had experienced sexual violence at some point in their lives.130 Despite the statistics, violence against women is still largely a taboo topic. The following anecdote is illustrative. Psychologists in the Shymkent Venereal Hospital recounted:

We were at a meeting organized by the commission on family and women's affairs at the district administration, and the district Ministry of Interior representative was in attendance. The secretary of the commission said to him, `Your boss needs a forty-minute report on violence against women.' Surprised, he looked at the secretary, and answered, `What's he going to talk about for forty minutes? There's no violence against women here.'131

Police units tasked with addressing rape and violence against women cases are said to be mostly ineffective, and, in many accounts, distort the information so that the blame is laid on the victim, not on the perpetrator.132 Yulia N., a thirty-three-year-old sex worker in Pavlodar, recounted her futile attempt to seek redress from police after having been robbed by a client at gunpoint. The head of the police station in question responded, "You don't have the right to make a complaint! You stand on the road, you get hit on daily, what are you going to do, lodge a complaint every day?!"133

Sex workers interviewed by Human Rights Watch said detentions were most frequently linked to a lack of official registration and personal identity documents. Detentions ranged in length from a few hours to a maximum of a month in custody, and were often accompanied by verbal and physical abuse, including beating with fists, feet, and batons. Larisa B., a forty-year-old sex worker in Pavlodar, explained that some weeks earlier local police detained her on suspicion of criminal activities, held her for several hours, and kicked her in the face, leaving severe bruises.134 Fellow sex workers Natalya M., twenty-two, and Evgenia S., twenty-eight, explained that they too were arbitrarily detained at the same time as Larisa B.: "This is how it was, one woman [Larisa B.] was detained for criminal activities, and we got hauled in too. They weren't right [in doing it], but we were held until four o'clock in the morning. When she [Larisa B.] began to talk, he [a police officer] came up, and kicked her on the chin, then hit her on the cheek, then on the head. That's what happened."135 Sex workers are subjected to extortion demands or forced to confess to false charges and can remain in custody for up to a month if they are unable to comply with extortion demands and if they lack identity documents. Nazim F., forty, told of two occasions on which she was detained, and paying the "required" sum hastened her release. She told Human Rights Watch, "I was held in the summer [of 2002] . . . it was a "raid," they take us in and demand money from us . . . 1000 tenge136 [U.S.$6.67]. . . I was beaten, with fists, pretty hard. . . . I gave the money and got out . . . A year ago I was detained for a month, didn't have any money, now I pay the money and get out fast."137

The harsh treatment by police of female sex workers was evident in Shymkent. There, on several occasions, Human Rights Watch at night observed club-swinging uniformed police officers and plainclothes police officers, only a few meters away from sex workers, delivering insults and provocatively hitting the sex workers lightly with clubs. Police pick-up trucks were parked nearby on the street, ready to deliver those detained to the police station.138

Police were also reported to attempt to coerce sex workers into admitting to drug possession charges. 139 For example, Ira S., a thirty-seven-year-old HIV-positive sex worker from Shymkent said she had been pressured to accept drug possession charges and beaten with a water-filled container. She said, "I was held for three days . . . I was beaten, like a man . . . with [their] fists, with a plastic bottle filled with water . . . . They wanted me to confess to possession of drugs, but they weren't mine, I didn't sign the paper."140 But, she added, police also regularly demand free sexual services in lieu of detention or should the detained sex worker not be willing to comply with extortion demands. "They don't request our services, they forcibly drag us, like in a fight, the car doors open, they pull someone in, take them to a park . . . . If they've been able to seize one woman, and there are four of them, then they'll all have sex with her, as things go. That's a subbotnik."141

Although sex workers said they often find it difficult to negotiate condom use by clients, when their clients are police officers, the women reported feeling powerless to negotiate any of the terms of the sexual transaction, including condom use.

Natalya M., a twenty-two-year-old sex worker from Pavlodar, stated that she had participated in subbotniks with police three or four times in order to avoid detention or further harassment, and that she had on those occasions been raped (without condoms) by them under threat of physical abuse.142 A sex worker from Shymkent, Ella D., twenty-two, reported that she had on several occasions consented to a subbotnik instead of risking violence at the hands of police. She claimed,

I get detained because I don't have a passport. . . they photograph you, ask for money, if you don't give it they demand a subbotnik [in this case, unprotected and unpaid sex] . . . it's like that for me every time, and if I don't agree, then I get beaten, with fists, and they're vulgar with me . . . . once they took me by the hair and pushed me into their car, saying `if you tell anyone, we'll plant drugs on you.'143

Dina N., twenty-one, a sex worker was "managed" by a pimp whose operation was protected by the police in exchange for services that include free and often unprotected sex. In these circumstances, she explained, the sex workers have no choice but to provide whatever sexual services the police demand. As she said of one such occasion, ". . . it was a month ago . . . there were three of us, and they [the police] were about fifteen. We had unprotected sex. They summoned us to an apartment . . . they didn't pay us anything."144

Some witnesses said the low salaries of police led them to treat sex workers and injection drug users harshly, including demands ranging from blatant extortion to requests for help with daily expenses including gasoline and food. Valentina S., twenty-seven, a sex worker in Pavlodar explained, "Sometimes they put you in the [police] car and say, `Give me money for gas or I'll bring you to the station."145

Health professionals, harm reduction service providers, and sex workers themselves claimed that many sex workers practice unprotected sex.146 Sex workers' desperate poverty, lack of information, and demands from clients are among the factors that prevent them from resisting unsafe sex or negotiating condom use.147 Dr. Natalia Rodina, head of the skin and venereal hospital in Shymkent, said that the work of women in prostitution is

. . . difficult and risky . . . sometimes they even disappear, or land in the hospital with injuries resulting from beatings [from clients]. . . . Violence against women [in Kazakhstan] is really part of the picture, because a woman, even if she's a prostitute, is still a woman, and she's still subjected to violence here . . . and because of this she goes and has unprotected sex for a miserable 200 tenge [about U.S.$1.33].148

Muborak K., a nineteen-year-old Tajik migrant working in southern Shymkent, related that a lack of money leading to an inadequate supply of condoms as well as clients' demands, had kept her from using condoms for periods ranging up to one month. "I don't have enough condoms . . . I haven't used one in a month . . . . the clients want sex without a condom. They say: `If you use a condom, I won't pay you. That's why.'"149 In Pavlodar, thirty-two-year-old Valia F. described a practice, reported in other parts of the country, of opting for unprotected sex for more money: ". . . of course there are times when clients demand unprotected sex. I have clients who don't use condoms with me, they like it, and then they come back and look for me . . . . They're not sick, we have a good relationship . . . . Two or three times a day I get these kinds of clients, and they pay me more."150

Human Rights Watch accompanied harm reduction workers on outreach visits to sex workers in Pavlodar, Almaty, and Shymkent. In all these cities, the large majority of sex workers, claiming that their supply was inadequate, requested a greater quantity of condoms than were available for distribution from the harm reduction workers. Many also requested that the harm reduction workers visit them more frequently. Some sex workers complained of short hours and inadequate access to trust points where condoms are distributed.151 In Shymkent, twenty-eight-year-old Sauli A. alleged that closures of trust points on Saturdays or Sundays made it more difficult to obtain condoms when needed and caused an additional financial burden. She said,

If the client says, `Sorry, I haven't got any,' then we have to buy them ourselves. Not long ago I had taken too few condoms [from the trust point] and it was Saturday and Sunday, and then I had to buy more myself . . . that woman who's at the trust point now, she never has time, or she has something else, she says `Come back another time,' and it makes you think twice about going there.152

Police corruption and involvement in sex work
Police corruption in Kazakhstan is also alleged by some witnesses to extend to organized sex work.153 Police were reported by witnesses to offer protection to pimps from criminal prosecution in exchange for monetary payments and free sexual services.154 According to one pimp, the police also balance competing interests between prostitution rings. For example, if one pimp wants to get rid of another because the other's prostitution ring is making more money than his or the other's ring is luring his "girls" away, the pimp may "place an order" with police to arrest and convict his rival for an agreed sum.155 Volodya M. delivered the following explanation:

I place an order. I promise that I'll pay money or provide girls, and tell them, `this prostitution ring is interfering with my work.' I know what's going on in the market, in the high-class hotels, for example. In the springtime one of the more expensive hotels was mine, only I was working there. Then there was a reshuffling, and I lost it. Now I'm going through a hard time, always fighting with other firms. Not long ago a few other pimps tried to take my girls-I got rid of them with the help of the police . . . . they instigated a criminal case on order, the last criminal case [against pimps] was at my behest. In the middle of August those other pimps got suspended sentences, one two years, another three, and another four.156

Citing the lack of state protection from abuse, some sex workers asserted that they were shielded from police violence and other harassment if they worked under the management of a pimp.157 A senior government official in Almaty claimed that police there were reluctant to take criminal action against the management of at least one brothel in Almaty because they themselves were profiting from the brothel.158

73 Research conducted in 2001 indicated that police in Kazakhstan conduct psychological and physical abuse on up to 65 percent of detainees during the first twenty-four hours of pretrial detention, mainly to extract confessions. The abuse includes beating, thrashing of kidneys, and choking. Forty-one percent of detainees claimed that they had retained traces on their bodies of the mistreatment. Monitoring Committee of Penal Reform and Human Rights, "Sobludenie prav cheloveka politsiei pri zaderzhanii po podozreniu v sovershenii presuplenia v techenie pervikh 24 chasov" [The Observance of Human Rights By Police During the First Twenty-Four Hours of Detention], Pavlodar, 2001. Officials have admitted that up to a third of all detentions are illegal. U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2001: Kazakhstan (Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor: March 4, 2002) [online], (retrieved January 14, 2003).

74 Public Opinion Research Centre, "Behavioral Surveillance Among Injecting Drug Users in Nine Cities of Kazakhstan..." p. 27. After Temirtau, Shymkent is said to show the highest prevalence of HIV-positive persons among IDUs. Kossukhin, "HIV/AIDS in Central Asia."

75 Center of AIDS Prevention and Control, Ministry of Health of the Republic of Kazakhstan, "Report on Sentinel Epidemiological Surveillance for HIV in the Republic of Kazakhstan in 2002," Almaty, 2002, p. 6.

76 Article 259 of the Criminal Code of Kazakhstan imposes penalties for the "illegal production, purchase, storage, transport, transfer or sale of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances. Large and particularly large amounts of narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances are defined in the Aggregated Table on Determination of the Small, Large and Extra-Large Amounts of Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, which is attached to the Law on Narcotic Drugs or Psychotropic Substances Subject to Control in the Republic of Kazakhstan, No. 279-1, July 10, 1998. Some large amounts are 50-1000 grams of dry marijuana, 200-5000 grams of not dried marijuana, 5-200 grams of hashish, and 0.01-100 grams of opiates (0.01-1.0 grams of heroin). Human Rights Watch interview with Vadim Altynbekov, deputy director, Anti-Drug Enforcement Unit, Karaganda City Ministry of Internal Affairs, Karaganda, August 19, 2002. IDUs told Human Rights Watch that one dose of heroin, depending on quality, ranges from 0.25 to 0.5 grams.

77 After the United States and Russia. 19,000 prison personnel work in Kazakhstan's prison system to administer the large number of detainees. Human Rights Watch interview with Pyotr N. Posmakov, president, Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan Committee of Criminal-Executive System, Astana, September 4, 2002.

78 Human Right Watch interviews in Almaty, Temirtau, Karaganda, Pavlodar and Shymkent, August-September 2002.

79 Human Rights Watch did not obtain documentation of a policy requiring police to fill an arrest quota for drug users, however, repeated and consistent allegations of such a policy from the IDUs, sex workers, legal and health professionals, and human rights monitors interviewed appeared credible, particularly in light of similar contemporary practices in the region. Sources also reported that policemen sometimes unreservedly explain to IDUs at the moment of detention that they are under pressure to satisfy a quota.
See, in addition, information on police quotas in the Russian Federation, in Human Rights Watch, Confessions at Any Cost: Police Torture in Russia (New York: Human Rights Watch, November, 1999), pp. 122-3, and in Uzbekistan, in Human Rights Watch, "And it was Hell all over Again...": Torture in Uzbekistan," A Human Rights Watch Report, vol. 12, no. 12 (D), December 2000, p. 5; also International Crisis Group (ICG), Central Asia: The Politics of Police Reform (Osh/Brussels: ICG, December 10, 2002), pp. 16, 24.

80 ICG, Central Asia: The Politics of Police Reform, pp. i, ii.

81 This testimony coincides with the recently-published findings of ICG, in Central Asia: The Politics of Police Reform. The report points to the involvement in drug trafficking, organized crime, and contraband of police and other law enforcement officials in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, pp. 9, 17, 25.

82 In August 2002, for example, Nikolai Kim, former deputy defense minister of Tajikistan, was sentenced to thirteen years on charges including drug trafficking. RFE/RL Newsline, August 12, 2002.

83 Daur Dosybiev, "Kazakstan: Police Corruption Worsens," Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR), RCA No. 128, July 5, 2002.

84 Human Rights Watch interviews with Zhemis Turmagambetov, deputy director, Kazakhstan International Bureau of Human Rights and the Rule of Law (KIBHR), Almaty, August 14, 2002; Anara Irbaeva, head, Astana section of KIBHR, Astana, September 4, 2002; Konstantin Kovtunets, secretary, Monitoring Committee of Penal Reform and Human Rights, Pavlodar, September 1, 2002; and Svetlana Kovliagina, lawyer, Pavlodar, September 2, 2002.

85 Interviewees were unable or unwilling out of fear of retaliation to name police agents responsible for abuse.

86 Human Rights Watch interview with Abdelkasim Begzhanov, Southern Kazakhstan Regional Drug Center, Shymkent, August 23, 2002.

87 Human Rights Watch interview with Lena Khopoleva, Karaganda AIDS Center, August 19, 2002.

88 Future cooperation can also include, for example, the identification of other IDUs.

89 Human Rights Watch interview with Gavkhar S., Pavlodar, August 30, 2002.

90 Human Rights Watch interview with Leila M., Pavlodar, August 30, 2002.

91 Ibid.; Human Rights Watch interviews with Valentina Skriabina, director, Reliable Support, Shymkent, August 23, 2002; Baljan N., Pavlodar, September 2, 2002; and Valentina Kniazova, Mothers Against Drugs (Temirtau), Almaty, August 14, 2002.

      The following citation, from an interview with a former IDU in Almaty and typical of general testimony on the conduct of police in Kazakhstan, shows the close link between law enforcement agents' low salaries and their extortion practices: "Some policemen say it like this, `I have a family, I have three children, I have to feed and educate them. How much money do you have?'" Human Rights Watch interview with Vitaly Bumakov, Almaty, September 11, 2002.

92 Human Rights Watch interview with Viktor T., Almaty, September 11, 2002.

93 Literally, "hole." A yama is known as a drug dealing point.

94 Human Rights Watch interview with Lena Khopoleva, Karaganda AIDS Center, August 19, 2002.

95 IDUs constitute up to one third of the prison population. In 2000, 21,000 drug-related crimes were registered; there are approximately 65,000 prisoners in Kazakhstan. Human Rights Watch interview with Pyotr N. Posmakov, Astana, September 4, 2002.

96 Ibid. Of the 21,000 drug-related crimes, about 1,000 were linked to drug trafficking. Human rights monitors and lawyers who have conducted recent research into pretrial detention conditions also confirmed that they encountered in the course of their research only detained drug users, not drug traffickers. Human Rights Watch interviews with Konstantin Kovtunets, September 1, 2002, and Svetlana Kovliagina September 2, 2002, Pavlodar.

97 Human Rights Watch interviews with IDUs in prison colonies in Pavlodar and Karaganda provinces.

98 A lawyer in Pavlodar estimated that up to fifty percent of prisoners had been unfairly convicted as a result of due process violations, with at least half of those violations being committed during criminal searches or due to the failure of officials to present an arrest warrant. Human Rights Watch interview with Svetlana Kovliagina, Pavlodar, September 2, 2002.

99 Testifying to the general ineffectiveness of state lawyers, many IDUs stated that they had refused their representation in the belief that they could provide a better defense on their own. Legal research in Kazakhstan indicates that heavy workloads and poor salaries contribute to state lawyers' lack of motivation. Monitoring Committee of Penal Reform and Human Rights Meeting, Pavlodar, May 11, 2001, p. 8; Human Rights Watch interview with Andrei V. Andreev, director, Legal Initiative, Almaty, August 21, 2002.

100 Monitoring Committee of Penal Reform and Human Rights, "Sobludenie prav cheloveka politsiei pri zaderzhanii po podozreniu v sovershenii presuplenia v techenie pervikh 24 chasov" [The Observance of Human Rights By Police During the First Twenty-Four Hours of Detention], Pavlodar, 2001.
According to lawyer Svetlana Kovliagina, "The police have to meet their quota-one of the lawyers in our firm previously worked for the police, so he knows all about it-and it's much easier to plant charges on drug users." Human Rights Watch interview, Pavlodar, September 2, 2002.

101 During the Soviet period, a subbotnik, from subbota (Saturday), was unpaid community service work. For sex work, it means free sex.

102 Human Rights Watch interview with Olga F., Pavlodar, August 31, 2002.

103 Human Rights Watch interview with Nurali Amanzholov, director, Shapagat, Temirtau, August 18, 2002.

104 Ibid.

105 Human Rights Watch interview with Abdelkasim Begzhanov, Southern Kazakhstan Regional Drug Center, Shymkent, August 23, 2002.

106 Human Rights Watch interview with Nurali Amanzholov, Temirtau, August 18, 2002; Alexander Kniazikov, HIV ward, Colony 159/18, Karaganda province, September 7, 2002; and Baljan N., Pavlodar, September 2, 2002.

107 Human Rights Watch interview with Vika S., Temirtau, August 18, 2002.

108 Human Rights Watch interview with Nurali Amanzholov, Temirtau, August 18, 2002.

109 Human Rights Watch interview, Temirtau, August 18, 2002.

110 Human Rights Watch interview with Kairat D., Temirtau, August 18, 2002.

111 A police colonel interviewed by Human Rights Watch denied that incidents of extortion occurred, but remarked that many IDUs are mysteriously released from pretrial detention before trials are completed. He said, "We're responsible for detaining people in possession of drugs. I don't want to say anything negative about our judicial system, but for some reason, often after two or three months, these people are free." He also said relatives of drug users sometimes offer money to police to obtain the release of drug users from detention. Human Rights Watch interview with Vadim Deresinovich Altynbekov, deputy director, Anti-Drug Enforcement Unit, Karaganda City Ministry of Internal Affairs, Karaganda, August 19, 2002.

112 Human Rights Watch interviews with Sultana V., Pavlodar, September 2, 2002; and Elena T. and Lisa M., Pavlodar, August 30, 2002.

113 Human Rights Watch interview with Sultana V., Pavlodar, September 2, 2002.

114 Human Rights Watch interview with Elena T., Pavlodar, August 30, 2002.

115 Human Rights Watch interview with Lena Khopoleva, Karaganda AIDS Center, August 19, 2002.

116 Human Rights Watch did not receive testimony from police confirming their direct participation in the drug trade, however, repeated and consistent testimony from IDUs, government health officials, international organization representatives, harm reduction workers and lawyers lend credibility to this allegation. Further, medical professionals and harm reduction service providers claimed that anti-drug enforcement officers themselves deal drugs.

117 Representatives of an international NGO in Almaty who requested anonymity, and who have been in the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention activities for several years, told Human Rights Watch that they believed that prominent drug dealers are members of police drug enforcement units and regulate drug market prices. Human Rights Watch interview, Almaty, August 15, 2002. Vadim Deresinovich Altynbekov at the Anti-Drug Enforcement Unit in Karaganda admitted to some cases of police misconduct in the past three to four years, but neglected to indicate whether they were linked to drug trafficking. Human Rights Watch interview, Karaganda, August 19, 2002. For further information on alleged police involvement in drug trafficking see Dosybiev, "Kazakstan: Police Corruption Worsens."

118 Human Rights Watch interview with Madina L., Karaganda AIDS Center, August 19, 2002.

119 Human Rights Watch interview with Vitaly Bumakov, Almaty, September 11, 2002.

120 Human Rights Watch interview with Dimitri V., Temirtau, August 18, 2002.

121 Alexander Kossukhin, UNAIDS, "HIV/AIDS in Central Asia" presentation at "Health Security in Central Asia: Drug Use, HIV and AIDS" conference, Dushanbe, October 16, 2002.

122 Uglovny kodeks respubliki Kazakhstan [Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan], No. 167-1, July 16, 1997, article 128 [online], (retrieved January 26, 2003).

123 As throughout most of the former Soviet Union, although citizens are allowed to move and reside freely throughout the country, they must register with municipal authorities in order to obtain legal residence and city services. This practice results in the detention by police for identity or registration checks of citizens on the grounds of suspicion of criminal or administrative offense. Homeless persons can also be detained on the grounds of missing personal documents for up to one month. Ukaz presidenta 2707 "Ob organakh vnutrennikh del respubliki Kazakhstan" [Presidential Decree No. 2707 "On Ministry of the Interior Bodies of the Republic of Kazakhstan], December 21, 1995, article 11(2,12), [online], (retrieved January 26, 2003); U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

124 Kossukhin, "HIV/AIDS in Central Asia."

125 Human Rights Watch interviews with Lyuda F., Pavlodar, August 31, 2002; Dina N., Karaganda, August 20, 2002; Ira S., Shymkent, August 24, 2002; and others, including health professionals.

126 Human Rights Watch interviews with Evgenia V. and Zhanna S., Senim, Shymkent, August 22, 2002 and Zhan Berdibaev, director, Alternative, Almaty, August 16, 2002.

127 Human Rights Watch's 2002 research indicated that at least 35 percent of populations of female sex workers encountered across the country were IDUs.

128 Public Opinion Research Centre, "Behavioral Surveillance Among Injecting Drug Users in Nine Cities of Kazakhstan (Almaty, Pavlodar, Shymkent, Karaganda, Temirtau, Astana, Petropavlovsk, Uralsk, Ust-Kamenogorsk) Within the Framework of HIV Epidemiological Surveillance," Almaty, 2002, pp. 17-18.

129 Human Rights Watch interview with Valentina Skriabina, Shymkent, August 23, 2002.

130 Only 20 percent had sought redress. The survey respondents explained their reluctance to seek legal redress for the following three reasons: lack of faith in the ability of law enforcement agencies to provide an effective solution; fear of the attacker; and fear of disclosure. Human Rights Watch interview with staff at the Shymkent Venereal Hospital, August 22, 2002. Other local studies on and groups devoted to fighting violence against women in Kazakhstan also argue that beating of women in the family is prevalent, that women hold the view that violence in the family is a normal form of behavior, and that women are afraid to pursue legal remedies against abusers. See profiles of the work of several local nongovernmental organizations devoted to violence against women on the website of the Open Society Institute (OSI), [online], (retrieved January 13, 2003).

131 Human Rights Watch interview with Ravshan Bigimetbetova, psychologist, Shymkent Venereal Hospital, Shymkent, August 22, 2002.

132 Staff of the hospital also claimed that in the majority of cases police attempted to place the blame on the victim. Human Rights Watch interviews with Dr. Tatiana Rodina, head doctor, and Ravshan Bigimetbetova, psychologist, Shymkent Venereal Hospital, Shymkent, August 22, 2002, and with sex workers in Pavlodar and Shymkent, August-September 2002. Also U.S. Department of State, Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

133 Human Rights Watch interview with Yulia N., Pavlodar, August 31, 2002.

134 Human Rights Watch interview with Larisa B., Pavlodar, August 31, 2002.

135 Human Rights Watch interviews with Natalya M. and Evgenia S., Pavlodar, August 31, 2002.

136 In August-September 2002 one U.S. dollar was approximately 150 tenge.

137 Human Rights Watch interview with Nazim F., Shymkent, August 23, 2002.

138 Human Rights Watch observations during interviews with female sex workers on the streets of Shymkent, August 22-24, 2002.

139 Many sex workers also claimed that police target them as IDUs, or simply exploit their vulnerable status as individuals without proper identity documents, in an attempt to fulfill arrest quotas.

140 Human Rights Watch interview with Ira S., Shymkent, August 24, 2002.

141 Ibid.

142 Human Rights Watch interview with Natalya M., Pavlodar, August 31, 2002.

143 Human Rights Watch interview with Ella D., Shymkent, August 24, 2002.

144 Human Rights Watch interview with Dina N., Karaganda, August 20, 2002.

145 Human Rights Watch interview with Valentina S., Pavlodar, August 31, 2002.

146 Human Rights Watch interviews August-September 2002.

147 Health professionals and harm reduction workers claimed that the level of knowledge of basic reproductive behavior, STIs and HIV/AIDS was significantly lower among sex workers who migrate from the countryside to Kazakhstan's larger cities as compared to those from cities.

148 Human Rights Watch interview with Dr. Tatiana Rodina, Shymkent, August 22, 2002.

149 Human Rights Watch interview with Muborak K., Shymkent, August 24, 2002.

150 Human Rights Watch interview with Valia F., Pavlodar, August 31, 2002.

151 A trust point is a confidential and user-friendly harm reduction service site offering some or all of the following: needle exchange, information on safe injection techniques, condom distribution, voluntary HIV and STD screening, HIV/AIDS and drug education literature, psychological counseling, and medical referrals. In Kazakhstan, trust points are mostly located in a range of public health settings including AIDS centers, hospitals, and medical clinics, but some are in unaffiliated office spaces.

152 Human Rights Watch interview with SauliA., Shymkent, August 24, 2002. The trust point in the Pavlodar AIDS Center was closed when Human Rights Watch visited on Sunday, September 1, 2002.

153 Human Rights Watch interviews with Sasha M., pimp, Dina N., Ella S., Anara V., and Victoria M., Karaganda, August 20, 2002; and Madina S. and Natasha R., Shymkent, August 22, 2002; and with government health officials and harm reduction workers in Shymkent who requested anonymity, August 22-24, 2002.

154 Human Rights Watch interviews with Sasha M., pimp, Karaganda, August 20, 2002, and with Madina S. and Natasha R., Shymkent, August 22, 2002.

155 Human Rights Watch interview with Sasha M. pimp, Karaganda, August 20, 2002. Sasha M. estimated eighteen to twenty-four prostitution rings in Karanganda alone. Also Human Rights Watch interviews with government health officials who requested anonymity, Shymkent, August 22, 2002.

156 Human Rights Watch interview with Sasha M., Karaganda, August 20, 2002.

157 Ibid.; and Human Rights Watch interviews with Dina N., Ella S., Anara V.F, and Victoria M., Karaganda, August 20, 2002.

158 Human Rights Watch interview with Dr. Isidora Erasilova, director, National AIDS Program, Almaty, September 9, 2002.

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