Kazakhstan accused of ignoring torture

July 11, 2013 at 11:57 AM
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LONDON, July 11 (UPI) -- Amnesty International said Kazakhstan has failed to end prisoner abuse in the wake of a deadly crackdown on protesters in 2011.

Kazakh authorities last year charged demonstrators involved in 2011 clashes in the western oil city of Zhanaozen with plotting to overthrow the government. At least 15 people were killed during labor strikes in the city two years ago.

AI released a report Thursday saying Kazakhstan has not lived up to its pledges to investigate those suspected of using force against demonstrators during the strike. The organization said Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev blamed "hooligans" for the violence. He said security forces acted according to the rule of law.

"The authorities continue to dismiss allegations of torture as unfounded, including those made under oath in court by individuals detained in the aftermath of the Zhanaozen events," the organization said.

Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov met this week in Washington with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and National Security Adviser Susan Rice. The U.S. State Department said meetings focused on regional security and commitments to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

"Both sides acknowledged the importance of a vibrant and varied civil society," the State Department said. No mention was made of human rights.

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