Release Lawyer Illegally Detained in Psychiatric Detention

Psychiatric Hospital

Target: President Nursultan Nazarbayez

Goal: Release lawyer Zinaida Mukhortova from psychiatric detention

Zinaida Mukhortova is a lawyer from Kazakhstan who has been detained on and off since February 2010; twice she has been detained in a psychiatric hospital. There are no grounds for her detention, but it began when the lawyer wrote a letter to the president complaining about interference from a member of Parliament concerning one of her civil cases.

Mukhortova, 56, was taken away from her family by medical personnel on August 9, 2013. A warrant or arrest was not issued; the lawyer was simply taken away. Mukhortova’s sister, who witnessed the act, stated that police officers were also there for the arrest but did not give a reason as to why Mukhortova was sent to a psychiatric ward. When Mukhortova’s legal representative tried to meet with her client, the head of hospital refused to let her in. Again a reason was not given, and no one explained why Mukhortova was detained. Mukhortova’s legal representative filed several claims including unlawful deprivation of freedom, and unlawful detainment in a psychiatric institution.

Activists claim that there are no rights or grounds for the lawyer to be detained, although some are suspecting that the letter sent to president might have angered high-ranking officials. When Mukhortova sent the letter, she and the three others who had signed the letter were charged with misleading information, a viable charge thanks to the country’s criminal code. In February 2010, Mukhortova was taken in for a psychiatric examination and diagnosed with a chronic delusional disorder. In January 2011 she was sent to the Republican Specialized Hospital where she received treatment for nine months. Mukhortova stated that she was badly treated by hospital staff in a video interview. “They gave me two pills—I didn’t know what the pills were—without even checking my reaction to these pills … and when I refused [to swallow them], they beat me and … tied my legs and hands to the bed.” In September of 2012, the lawyer then underwent a psychiatric evaluation by an independent human rights group who deemed Mukhortova to be healthy and stated that she did not suffer from any chronic mental illness during or after the crime.

The Kazakhstan government have continuously violated Mukhortova’s rights and freedoms and none of the officials have given a clear answer as to why this woman was detained. They arrested her without a warrant and kept her in a psychiatric ward with no probable cause and beat her when they gave her an unknown medication. The Kazakhstan authorities should release this woman they have wronged in many ways. Sign this petition and urge the government to do so.


Dear President Nursultan Nazarbayez,

I am writing to demand for the immediate release of lawyer Zinaida Mukhortova. This woman has been continuously detained for no probable cause, and in doing so, your country has violated her human rights. She has been deprived of her freedom and been unlawfully contained in a psychiatric ward. During her detainment she has been abused by the hospital staff who tried to give her an unknown medication and when Mukhortova refused, she was beaten. While the Republic Hospital believes that she has a chronic mental disorder, another independent human rights group also conducted an evaluation and found her to be fit and mentally healthy. This woman’s troubles began when she sent you a letter voicing her concern about a member of parliament interfering with one of her civil cases. Instead of investigating the matter, you charged Mukhortova and the three others who signed the letter with misleading information and then sent her off to a psychiatric ward.

Human rights activists are clamoring for her release and I believe you should do the same. This lawyer was doing her job and you barred her from doing so. It is wrong to have taken this woman away from her family—and to do so without a warrant. You should do the right thing and release her.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Mudie via AFP

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