The Civic Solidarity Platform's Working Group on the Fight Against Torture presents its fifth annual Index on Torture

The Working Group on the Fight Against Torture presents the results of 2023 Index on Torture measurement in seven countries of the OSCE region: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia, and Ukraine.
This is the fifth anniversary measurement. We present summary data that shows the dynamics of both improvement of the situation and its deterioration.

In 2023, the Prohibition of Torture Index value increased significantly in Kyrgyzstan. The change was mainly due to improved indicators regarding the criminal prohibition of torture and procedural guarantees. The Index continued to rise in Kazakhstan. The main increase compared to the previous year was due to the criminalization of ill-treatment in the country's Criminal Code. The Index value in Russia, which showed positive dynamics in 2022 due to the criminalization of torture as an offense in the Criminal Code, has remained almost unchanged. This fact reinforces the argument made by Russian experts last year that prevention and suppression of torture cannot be achieved solely by introducing sanctions in the Criminal Code.

Rather, it should be accompanied by effective measures to register reports alleging torture, conduct high-quality investigations of such incidents, and ensure that all perpetrators are brought to justice. In addition, it is essential to have effective torture prevention instruments in place, including procedural guarantees that work flawlessly in practice, ensuring the safety and accessibility of evidence of torture during investigations, and adequate civic oversight. No positive progress was made in any of these areas in Russia in 2023. Experts have not observed any changes in terms of reducing the practice of torture or improving the quality of investigation of torture cases.

Slight declines in the Index value have occurred in Moldova and Ukraine. In Ukraine, it was due to the lack of publicly available information on the number of complaints alleging torture, observed for the first time since 2019, which is an understandable consequence of the ongoing war. Nevertheless, it is important to note that even under these emergency conditions, Ukraine has been working to improve the quality of judicial statistics. Ukrainian experts assessed this indicator to be higher in 2023 compared to the previous year. In the 2023 Index for Moldova, a decline was observed in indicators such as access to information on the number of torture complaints and to judicial statistics, along with a lower assessment of the effectiveness of video surveillance in places of detention.

Belarus and Russia continue to demonstrate the worst performance.

Five years of monitoring the implementation of the prohibition of torture in the countries where the Index is measured clearly illustrate the main areas where positive or negative dynamics impact the final score. It is already possible to identify the key indicators that influence the Index value for each country. More details are in the summary