UNODC Supports Kyrgyzstan to Enhance the Quality of Forensic Expertise in Criminal Cases Related to Extremism and Terrorism

During the past years, courts of Kyrgyzstan have handed down hundreds of guilty verdicts for terrorism and extremism related crimes. Between 2014 and 2016, 171 persons were convicted for incitement of national, inter-ethnic, racial, inter-religious, inter-regional hatred. 71 persons were convicted for acquisition, production, possession, distribution, transportation and transmission of extremist material. Human rights experts and lawyers have expressed concern regarding adherence to fair trial standards in such cases, which revealed an urgent need for standardized and scientific approaches to the determination of extremist content and the quality of related forensic expertise.

To strengthen capacity of forensic experts in this field, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) partnered with the State Forensic Service of the Kyrgyz Republic to hold a three-day training for some 30 governmental and independent experts on the provision of psycho-linguistic and religious expertise in extremism and terrorism related cases.  The training was conducted on the basis of the Methodological manual for conducting a comprehensive judicial psycho-linguistic and religious expertise in the Kyrgyz Republic, the 2nd edition of which was released with the support of UNODC.

"Applying best international experience is critical in ensuring that psycho-linguistic and religious expertise is provided in criminal cases related to extremism and terrorism in line with established quality management procedures and judgements are based on sufficient and appropriate evidence", stated Mr. Andrey Seleznev, Head of the UNODC Program Office in in the Kyrgyz Republic.

The training course aimed at increasing the capacity of forensic experts to conduct psycho-linguistic and religious expertise of texts that are submitted to court as evidence to support claims related to incitement of racial, ethnic, nationalistic, religious or interregaional hatred.

Two experts from the Russian Federation, Ms. Elizaveta Koltunova, Ph.D., a linguist, associate professor of the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, Institute of Philology and Journalism under the Lobachevsky State University of Nizhni Novgorod and member of the scientific methodological union of Linguistic Experts' Guild on documentary and informational disputes and Mr. Sergey Davidov, Ph.D., a psychologist and associate professor at the Department of General and Social Psychology of the Lobachevsky State University of Nizhni Novgorod along with Ms. Indira Aslanova, UNODC  expert, shared their knowledge and experience in conducting psycho-linguistic and religious expertise.   

"This is the first training that we conduct with experts from the Kyrgyz Republic. We gathered linguists, psychologists and religious scholars today. Cases of extremism and terrorism are very relevant now and we would like the training to improve the experts' skills to ensure that examinations are evidence-based, reasonable and reliable. Only in this case, Kyrgyzstan's law enforcement and judicial practice in terrorism and extremism related cases, including the forensic services provided in such cases, will develop in line with international standards", outlined Mrs. Elizaveta Koltunova.

Training participants gained knowledge on the role and place of forensic expertise in cases involving extremist materials and the basic requirements and scientific procedures to produce such expertise. They examined linguistic, psychological and religious signs of calls for violent extremist and terrorist activity, as well as incitement of hatred on various grounds. In addition, the participating experts engaged in practical group exercises to review cases, present outcomes and defend received results.

The training course was conducted within the framework of the project "Support to the prevention of radicalization to violence in prisons and probation settings in the Kyrgyz Republic", which is implemented by UNODC and UNDP with funding from the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund.

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