Representatives of the European Union and the Kyrgyz Republic met on 27 May 2019 in Brussels to discuss human rights issues and cooperation in related areas during their annual Human Rights Dialogue.

The meeting was framed by the adoption on 15 May of Joint Communication – The EU and Central Asia: New opportunities for a stronger partnership and the ongoing negotiations of a new-generation, enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. The participants openly and constructively reviewed latest developments and discussed bilateral cooperation programmes and cooperation in the multilateral fora.

The European Union encouraged ongoing work to further strengthen the role of the national human rights institutions, the Ombudsman and the National Centre Torture Prevention. The EU welcomed the introduction of new measures to prevent torture and ill treatment and noted the low number of prosecutions, insufficient capacity for independent medical examination and inhuman conditions in some detention facilities. Progress on prevention of torture is highly relevant for monitoring of progress of the effective implementation of the 27 human right, environmental, labour and good governance conventions under the GSP+ preferential scheme, from the Kyrgyz Republic benefits since 2016.

The EU supports an effective implementation of the judicial reform through the EU Rule of Law Programme, with the objective to increase the independence of the judiciary, curb corruption and increase transparency and efficiency of the courts and staff, also with the use of modern technology.

Positive developments in the freedom of expression and freedom of the media were particularly emphasised, and the EU shared its assessment of structural problems of the media sector. With respect to the freedom of association, the EU highlighted the positive role of civil society and regretted recent calls by members of the parliament for a stricter control over the funding of NGOs.

The EU appreciated the high standard of the legal framework in force for the protection of the rights of women and children and received an update on communication initiatives aiming to make domestic violence and forced marriage socially unacceptable. The EU considers gender equality and empowerment of women as a cross-cutting priority in all development cooperation programmes. The participants discussed measures to increase the representation of women and members of ethnic minorities in political and economic life. The EU praised the ratification by the Kyrgyz Republic of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The EU welcomed the prioritisation of the transparency and digitalisation agenda as a way to increase accountability and fight corruption, and the adoption of new legislation on witness and whistle-blower protection. The EU called for an effective and impartial investigation of all corruption cases and warned against the risk of selective justice.

The Kyrgyz delegation was led by Mr. Azizbek Madmarov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, while the EU delegation was led by Mr Boris Iarochevich, Head of the Central Asia Division at the European External Action Service. The next round of the EU-Kyrgyz Republic Human Rights Dialogue is expected to take place in Bishkek in 2020.