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Kazakhstan Human rights

World Report 2015: Kazakhstan

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Kazakhstan heavily restricts freedom of assembly, speech, and religion. In 2014, authorities closed newspapers, jailed or fined dozens of people after peaceful but unsanctioned protests, and fined or detained worshipers for practicing religion outside state controls. Government critics, including opposition leader Vladimir Kozlov, remained in detention after unfair trials.

In mid-2014, Kazakhstan adopted new criminal, criminal executive, criminal procedural, and administrative codes, and a new law on trade unions, which contain articles restricting fundamental freedoms and are incompatible with international standards. Torture remains common in places of detention.

Legal Reforms

Rights groups, diplomats, and international bodies raised concerns that the criminal and administrative codes that Kazakhstan adopted contain key articles that would restrict fundamental speech, assembly, association, and religious freedoms.

In July, the European Union, United States, and United Kingdom issued statements of concern, saying the codes could “negatively affect” or “limit” fundamental freedoms. Human rights groups called on President Nursultan Nazarbaev to veto the bills.

Civil Society

Civil society activist Vadim Kuramshin continues to serve a 12-year prison sentence, despite procedural violations during his trial and concerns that his sentencing in December 2012 was retribution for public criticism of the government. Kuramshin staged a short hunger strike in June to demand medical attention and transfer to a different colony, alleging other inmates beat and harassed him.

On November 19, labor activist Rosa Tuletaeva was released on parole from the penal colony where she had been serving her five-year prison sentence. In March, labor activist Maksat Dosmagambetov, who is serving a six-year sentence, was transferred to a penal colony, affording him more freedoms than a prison. Dosmagambetov underwent an operation in 2014 to remove a tumor in his cheekbone that developed after he was imprisoned.

In March, political opposition leader Vladimir Kozlov was transferred from a prison in north Kazakhstan to one outside Almaty, close to his residence. In May, an Almaty court upheld orders to confiscate Kozlov’s apartment, where his wife and infant son were living, despite legislation preventing the confiscation of a person’s sole property.

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