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Issue #1602      July 17, 2013

Spotlight on PM’s chum

BRITAIN: Amnesty International has urged David Cameron to add his voice to calls for an international investigation into extra-judicial killings and torture in Kazakhstan. The Prime Minister visited the central Asian country last month on a multimillion pound trade junket and was heavily criticised for failing to raise the issue of human rights abuses in the country.

In a damning new report Amnesty has accused Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbaev of “pulling the wool over the eyes” of the international community after making and then breaking promises to eradicate torture.

In particular, the charity is calling on Mr Nazarbaev to allow an international investigation into the security forces’ use of lethal force during a notorious incident in the town of Zhanaozen following strikes and protests there in December 2011.

At least 15 people were killed and more than 100 seriously injured when security forces used excessive force to disperse protesters. Subsequently, scores of people were rounded up by the authorities and tortured.

Amnesty’s report – “Old habits: The routine use of torture and ill-treatment in Kazakhstan” – comes just a week after the Prime Minister made a two-day trade visit to Kazakhstan.

Asked about human rights during the trip, Mr Cameron emphasised that the visit was primarily about economic issues but said “nothing is off the agenda, including human rights” – though no further details of any human rights discussions have emerged, Amnesty notes.

Its senior director of research Nicola Duckworth said: “It is clear that the Kazakhstani government’s assertions of its commitment to eradicate torture are for international consumption only.

“They are an attempt to pull wool over the eyes of the public at home and abroad, while torture and other ill-treatment continue unabated and unchecked.”

The UN high commissioner for human rights Navi Pillay has called for an international investigation into what happened at Zhanaozen and the charity is urging the PM to do likewise.

Morning Star   

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