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Submission by the Kazakhstan NGOs in connection with the preparation of a list of issues prior to the review of a Third periodic report of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the compliance with the International Covenant on civil and political rights


This information has been prepared by the Kazakhstan NGOs (Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, “Kadir Kasiyet” Public Association, “Feminita” Kazakhstan Feminist Initiative, Children’s Fund of Kazakhstan), taking into account the List of Issues relating to the review of the Second Periodic Report of Kazakhstan (CCPR/C/KAZ/Q/2), the Concluding  Observations of the Committee on the Second Periodic Report of Kazakhstan (CCPR/C/KAZ/CO/2) and the Comments of the Kazakhstan NGOs on the Information on the Implementation of the Concluding Observations (2017).

Constitutional and legal framework within which the Covenant is implemented (Art.2)

1. Notwithstanding the questions and recommendations already raised by the Committee on the application of the provisions of the Covenant by the national courts, the provisions are not actually applied.  

2. We should also note the change in the wording of clause 3 of Article 4 of the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan, which was introduced on 10 March 2017. In the past, that provision used to read as follows: “International treaties ratified by the Republic shall have priority over its laws and shall apply directly, except when it follows from an international treaty that its application requires promulgation of a law.”  The new wording reads as follows: “International treaties ratified by the Republic have priority over its laws. The legislation of the Republic determines the procedure and conditions of operation of international treaties, to which Kazakhstan is a party, in the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan”, which, essentially, has removed the notion of direct application of international treaties in the law enforcement practice in Kazakhstan, while no special legislation on procedures and conditions of application of certain international treaties pertaining to human rights has been adopted. Thus, not only have the international human rights treaties priority over the national laws in the law enforcement practice of the Republic of Kazakhstan, but in any case, they do not directly apply in practice.

3. For this matter, the issue of illustrative cases when the domestic courts would have invoked the provisions of the Covenant, stating the context and the degree by which they have influenced court decisions, continues to be relevant.

4. Over the six years since the review of the Kazakhstan Second Periodic Report on the implementation of the Covenant, no procedure has been introduced to give effect to the Committee’s Observations under the Optional Protocol to the Covenant.

5. Since then, more than thirty Committee views have been adopted, including CCPR/C/132/D/2509/2014 (Kurakbayev and Sabdikenova v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/131/D/2688/2015 (Toregozhina v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/131/D/2676/2015 (Tsukanov v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/133/D/2726/2016 (A.P. v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/129/D/2456/2014 (Sadykov v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/128/D/2686/2015 (Adilkhanov v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/130/D/2418/2014 (Sambetbay v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/128/D/2687/2015 (Telibekov v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/130/D/2457/2014 (Mukhlisov v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/129/D/2535/2015, (Akhmedyarov v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/129/D/2520/2015 (Baytelova v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/130/D/2521/2015 (Narymbayev v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/130/D/2551/2015 (Tikhonov v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/130/D/2546/2015 (Nurlanuly v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/129/D/2503/2014 (Toregozhina v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/130/D/2661/2015 (Polat, Weaver Jr. and Ehtle v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/ 130/D/2540/2015 (Kurtinbayeva v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/130/D/2547/2015 (Kulumbetov v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/126/D/2420/2014 (Ukteshbayev v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/126/D/2417/2014 (Geller v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/125/D/2308/2013 (Dzhumanbayev v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/127/D/2920/2016 (Mukhortova v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/126/D/2542/ 2015, CCPR/C/126/D/2543/2015 (Insenova v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/126/D/2311/2013 (Toregozhina v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/126/D/2416/2014 (Suleimenova v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/127/D/2431/2014 (Sadykov v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/125/D/2309/2013 (Abildaeva v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/124/D/2257/2013 CCPR/ C/124/D/2334/2014 (Toregozhina v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/124/D/2441/2014 (Zhagiparov v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/119/D/2146/2012 (Suleimenov v. Kazakhstan), CCPR /C/119/D/2125/2011 (Tyan v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/121/D/2645/2015 (Chelakh v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/120/D/2158/2012 (Sviridov v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/116/D/2129/2012 (Esergepov v. Kazakhstan), CCPR/C/115/D/2304/2013 (Dzhakishev v. Kazakhstan). No action has been actually taken on any of these Committee’s views.

6. At the same time, in its response to the claim of Lukpan Akhmedyarov on the implementation of the Committee’s Views (CCPR/C/129/D/2535/2015), in June 2021 the defendant – the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Kazakhstan stated that: “According to the statement of the Republic of Kazakhstan concerning the recognition of the competence of the Human Rights Committee under Article 1 of the Optional Protocol, the Republic of Kazakhstan declared that it recognizes the competence of the Human Rights Committee in terms of accepting and considering communications from individuals falling under the jurisdiction of the Republic of Kazakhstan against actions or inaction of public authorities in relation to acts or decisions adopted by them that took place after the effective date of this Optional Protocol for the Republic of Kazakhstan. Thus, the Republic of Kazakhstan recognized the competence of the UN Committees only in terms of consideration of citizens’ applications. For this reason, the recommendations of the UN Committees are not binding on the Republic of Kazakhstan and do not have pre-judicial significance”.

7. In this regard, the issue of taking measures to ensure the comprehensive application of the Committee’s observations adopted in relation to a member state when reviewing the above reports remains relevant.

Non-discrimination, equality of men and women and prohibition of advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred (arts. 2, 3, 20 and 26)

8. Despite the repeated inquiries and recommendations of the Committee, as well as of other UN treaty bodies and specialized procedures on the development and adoption of anti-discrimination laws, the creation of anti-discrimination institutions and procedures, no practical step has been made in this direction.

9. Therefore, the request for the information on whether any measure have been or being taken to introduce the comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation that is aimed at combating discrimination, including in the area of private relations; prohibits any direct, indirect or multiple discrimination; contains a comprehensive list of prohibited grounds of discrimination, including sexual orientation and gender identity; and ensures the effective remedies in judicial or administrative proceedings is still relevant.

10. In January 2016, the Republic of Kazakhstan ratified the Convention against Discrimination in Education, the main purpose of which is to exclude any possible discrimination in education. The Kazakhstan NGO Working Group “On Protection of Children’s Rights” notes the persistent discrimination against children with disabilities; children living in rural areas; children of non-Kazakhstan residents and children from poor families, especially with regard to their access to education and healthcare.

11. Those organisations that protect the interests of sexual minorities note specific issues that may be included in the List:

– whether steps have been taken or are being taken to adopt comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation which expressly lists sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited grounds of discrimination;

– whether the current legislation has been reviewed and revised in accordance with the provisions of the Covenant and other international human rights covenants, including articles 121, 122, 123 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, which contain the derogatory language such as “sodomy”, “lesbianism” in Russian;

– whether there are adequate and effective protections against any form of discrimination, including protection of private life of people from the LGBTIQ community;

– what measures are being taken to prohibit direct, indirect and multiple discrimination, in accordance with the provisions of the Covenant and other international human rights law on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity;

– provide information on cases where victims of discrimination or violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity have been provided for access to effective and appropriate remedies and to properly investigate and prosecute perpetrators of discrimination or violence against persons based on sexual orientation or gender identity;

– indicate whether there has been a review of the procedure for corrective surgery to change the gender marker in order to ensure its compatibility with the provisions of the Covenant;

– clarify whether the responsibility of officials  is fixed for violation of equality and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or any other circumstances;

– provide a list of activities, the amount of funds allocated and organizations involved to raise public awareness of the right to non-discrimination and provide effective legal remedies with open access to them for victims of discrimination;

– provide detailed statistical data on discrimination cases brought under Article 145 of the Kazakhstan Criminal Code and Article 14 of the Kazakhstan Constitution, including cases of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and respective court decisions.

Counter-terrorism measures (arts. 2, 7, 9-10, 14, 19, 21 and 22)

12. Despite the inquiries and recommendations already raised by the Committee regarding the broad definition of the terms in the anti-terrorism legislation and other legislative and practical issues, the situation has not changed much.

13. The Kazakh legislation on the fight against terrorism and its financing widely uses the legally vague term “extremism” in addition to the term “terrorism”. As a result, e.g., the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 2009 “On Countering the Legalization (Laundering) of Proceeds from Crime and the Financing of Terrorism”, despite its name, mentions the term “extremism” in a number of its articles, in particular, in Article 12 “Targeted Financial Sanctions to Prevent and Avoid Terrorism and its Financing”. Furthermore, in addition to 1999 RK Law on Countering Terrorism, there is a separate 2005 RK Law on Countering Extremism.

14. Persons found guilty of committing “extremist” crimes are often subjected to additional punishment in the form of a ban on engaging in “social activities”. Given that the Kazakh law does not define the term “social activity”, the courts impose prohibition on such persons, for example, to organize or participate in peaceful assemblies, use the Internet or participate in the activities of public associations.

15. Finally, based on Article 12 of the RK Law On Countering the Legalization (Laundering) of Proceeds from Crime and the Financing of Terrorism, a List has been created containing entities and individuals associated with the financing of terrorism or extremism, such List being automatically updated with names of all persons convicted of all terrorist or extremist crimes, regardless of whether they were involved in the financing of terrorism or not. The persons included in the List remain listed therein until the end of their criminal record, that is, the entire term of punishment plus the term of possible additional punishment in the form of deprivation of the right to engage in public activities, which may be imposed for a period of 1 to 10 years, plus a criminal record term of 6 or 8 years, depending on the severity of the crime. That is, after the end of the term of punishment (usually in the form of imprisonment), a person remains included on the List for several years, which may be up to 18 years. The List restricts persons included therein from withdrawing money from bank accounts (only in the amount of a minimum wage per family member per calendar month), the ability to open a business or work as an individual entrepreneur, enter insurance contracts and imposes a number of other restrictions.

16. Such use of the term “extremism” is substantially similar, in terms of legal consequences and restrictions, including in the financial sphere, to the use of the term “terrorism” and has a direct adverse impact on the civil society and human rights and freedoms, in particular on the freedom of speech and expression, freedom of association and peaceful assemblies and other rights.

17. These problems were highlighted by the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the context of the fight against terrorism, who visited Kazakhstan in 2019 (A/HRC/43/46/Add.1).

18. The Criminal Code and the Code of Administrative Offenses contain articles that stipulate liability for offenses in the area of financing terrorism and extremism (Article 218 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, “Legalization (laundering) of money and/or other property obtained by way of a crime,” Article 214 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, “Violations of the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the fight against legalization (laundering) of criminal proceeds and the financing of terrorism,” etc.)

19. As a separate block, comes the legislative norms that establish requirements for additional reporting by NGOs in connection with FATF recommendations. That block includes, as an example, such laws as On Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan Pertaining to Charity”; “On Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the Activities of Non-Governmental Organizations”; “On Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan Pertaining to Payments and Payment Systems”, etc., as well as numerous by-laws and amendments that have been adopted, for instance, Order of the Minister of Culture and Sports of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On the approval of the Rules for the provision by non-governmental organizations of information on their activity and for the formation of a database on the same.” Those regulations provide a requirement of additional reporting for non-profit organizations that are financed from foreign sources (with the exception of political parties, trade unions, religious organizations for which such prohibitions and requirements are provided for in other laws), and for charitable organizations.

20. In this regard, the questions arise whether the anti-terrorist and anti-extremist laws of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the application thereof meet the international standards.

Right to life and excessive use of force (arts. 2, 6-7, 9 and 21)

21. Notwithstanding the Committee’s recommendations, including those contained in clause 56 of the Concluding Observations. that “in accordance with paragraph 5, rule 71 of the Committee’s rules of procedure, a member state must submit, within one year, the appropriate information on the adoption of the final observations, the respective information on the implementation of the Committee’s recommendations, as stated above in paragraph 18 “Accountability for the abuse of human rights in connection with the events in Zhanaozen”, no step has been taken in this direction. The people mentioned in the Concluding Observations were sentenced to imprisonment without the proper investigation into the reports of torture, and M. Dosmagambetov died at the end of September 2018 from an illness that he believed related to the torture against him.

22. Thus, the issue of measures to ensure the independent, impartial, thorough and effective investigation of human rights violations committed during the events in Zhanaozen on 16 and 17 December 2011, namely, the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force by the law enforcement officials causing depths of people and serious injuries, mass detentions, torture and ill-treatment of demonstrators, suspects and bringing the perpetrators to justice, remains relevant.

23. Moreover, the similar questions arise regarding the January 2022 events in Kazakhstan, that began with peaceful protests and ended with riots. In August 2022, the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Kazakhstan published a list of those who died during those events, however, without specifying the circumstances of the death of such people. The list includes 238 people, of whom 19 were the law enforcement officers. Among the dead there were bystanders and children. In general, there is no clarity or at least publicity, as to who shoot to kill and under what circumstances.

24. It is obvious that each case of death of a person should have been investigated, and only if there were reliable evidence of the use of weapons to kill in connection with an immediate threat to the life and health of law enforcement officers or ordinary citizens, the use of weapons could be held lawful. In other cases, a pre-trial investigation should have begun and law enforcement officers and military personnel who used weapons should have been held accountable, since it could be either a murder or abuse of power or official authority that entailed grave consequences and even causing death through negligence, since the vast majority of people killed included bystanders, peaceful protesters and persons who did not pose an immediate threat to life and health. Certainly, those persons who killed the law enforcement officers and military personnel should have been also brought to justice on charges of “Murder” under the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

25. While the authorities said all deaths have been under the pre-trial investigation, little is known about the outcome so far. However, in mid-November 2022, a serviceman was sentenced to 6 years in prison for the abuse of power that resulted in the death of a shepherd during the January events. The verdict has not yet entered into force. In other cases, the progress of the investigation is unknown to the public, and many cases have been either dismissed or classified. Thus, the public remains unaware as to who (the employees of which units) used lethal weapons and under what circumstances.

26. In this regard, the Kazakhstan authorities should be asked questions similar to those that were raised after the 2011 Zhanaozen events, given that the scale of the tragedy in January 2022 is immeasurably greater.

27. While noting the efforts being made by the member state to address the problem of suicides and deaths, including in prisons, pre-trial detention centres or temporary detention facilities, the Committee was concerned that the number of such cases remains high. It also deplored the paucity of information on the investigations into such deaths and their outcomes. This recommendation remains valid. Meanwhile, it should also be noted that a suicide attempt in places of deprivation of liberty is in most cases treated as disobedience to the lawful actions of the administration.

Liberty and security of person and treatment of persons deprived of their liberty (arts. 7, 9, 10 and 14)

28. In August 2022, the civil society experts conducted a study on the observance of the rights of persons detained during the January events, which revealed a number of systemic problems that have already been noted by the Committee.

29. Even though the questionnaire and the study meet the requirements of validity and relevancy, a sample based on responses from 63 advocates (and in some cases detainees and their relatives) can hardly be considered representative, because a total of more than ten thousand people were detained during and after the events of January 2022, several hundreds were detained for a period of several days, and many were arrested. However, the questionnaire covered between approximately 10-20 percent of those who were detained, across seven regions, which allowed us to make assessments and identify some of the systemic problems as it comes to observing the right to freedom and personal integrity, to a fair trial (at the stage of pre-trial investigation), to legal aid, and to freedom from torture and cruel treatment.

30. Part 2 of Article 14 of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan contains a very clear definition of actual detention, which means “restriction of freedom of a detainee, including freedom of movement, forced confinement in a certain place, forcible delivery to bodies of enquiry and investigation (seizure, closing in the room, forcing to go somewhere or stay there, etc.), as well as any other actions that significantly restrict the personal freedom of a person from the exact minute when these restrictions have become real, regardless of the fact that the detainee has any procedural status or other formal procedures”. Under Article 48.5 of the CPC, “when a person is being detained on suspicion of committing a criminal act, the term shall begin to run from the moment (hours to the minute precision) this measure has been actually applied.

31. What follows detention, is delivery which, according to Article 129.1 of the CPC, is “a measure of procedural enforcement applied for a term of not more than three hours, to ascertain whether the person in question is implicated in a criminal act.” Under Article 131.2 of the CPC, “within the timeframe set out in part one of Article 129 of the Code [that is, three hours], an investigative officer shall draw up a protocol of detention”.

32. Thus, the criminal procedure law of the Republic of Kazakhstan contains a more or less defined procedure that applies to detainees, which starts to run from the moment of actual detention, is followed by delivery, then an entry in the log of detainees; in doing so, a detention protocol must be drawn up within three hours, a prosecutor must be notified of the fact of detention within twelve hours and the detainee must be registered with all procedural guarantees. From then on, all terms are counted from the moment of actual detention, in particular, under Article 14.2 of the CPC, “without a court’s sanction a person may be detained for a period of not more than forty-eight hours, a minor for a period of not more than twenty-four hours, except when the Code expressly provides that a person may be detained without a court sanction for a period of not more than seventy-two hours.

33. As the research study demonstrated, there is a serious gap, from the point of view of law enforcement practice, when it comes to registering the time of actual detention and reflecting it in a detention protocol. Despite the fact that the form of a detention protocol includes both the time when it was drawn up (with precision to a minute) and an indication of time of the actual detention (with precision to a minute), from which point all other timeframes start to run, time of actual detention was registered with violations in 60 percent of cases, and the difference between the time of actual detention and the time recorded in the detention protocol was as much as eight days.

34. In addition, no police badge was presented at the moment of detention (in 43 percent of cases and in another 30 percent of cases this remained unknown); no reasons for the detention were communicated (in 71 percent of cases), no rights were explained (in 73 percent of cases), and physical force was used (in 63 percent of cases). In 90 percent of the cases, the act of detention was not video recorded.

35. According to the research study results, in 41 percent of cases delivery was not done in police cars, in 33 percent of cases delivery was conducted with unjustified delays, and in 33 percent of cases detainees were kept at a different place until a protocol of detention could be drawn up—in other words, at other police stations or even places that were not properly suited for such purposes, and detainees were registered in a log only in 22 percent of cases (in another 54 percent of cases this remained unknown)—which means, essentially, that the entire procedure of delivery and registration of detainees is flawed and must be improved.

36. Despite the fact that Article 14.3 of the CPC, Article 131.1 of the CPC, Article 5.2 and 5.3 of the Law “On the Bodies of Internal Affairs” provide guarantees that detainees will be informed, at the moment of actual detention, of the reasons for detention, of their right to remain silent, their right to have an advocate of their own choosing, and that their relatives and other relevant third parties of their own choosing will be informed of the detention, according to the research study the reasons for detention were communicated only in 21 percent of cases, and the rights of detainees were explained to them in 73 percent of cases.

37. Moreover, despite the guarantees contained in Article 64.2 of the CPC, according to the results of the questionnaire no rights were explained while the detention protocol was being drawn up in 63 percent of cases, in 76 percent of cases the detainee was not able to call his/her advocate of their own choosing, and in 71 percent of cases detainees were not able to exercise their right to a “phone call.”

38. According to the research study results, face-to-face meetings-in-confidence with an advocate were not provided within the first 24 hours in 62 percent of cases, because advocates were simply unable to gain any access to their clients. With respect to those who were detained during the first days of unrest in January 2022, advocates were not able to gain access to their clients for several days, citing a state of emergency. This was a direct violation of constitutional guarantees set out in Article 13 of the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan, which states that “everyone shall have the right to receive professional legal aid. In cases stipulated by the law legal aid shall be provided free of charge.” According to Article 39.3 of the Constitution, “…in no case shall the rights and freedoms stipulated by Articles … 13-15 … of the Constitution be restricted.

39. In 73 percent of cases, initially legal aid was provided by an appointed advocate (paid by State), because detainees were unable to get hold of the advocates of their own or their relatives’ choosing. In several cases, detainees used the help of advocates paid by relatives, because there were serious complaints about the quality of legal aid provided by appointed advocates, including that provided to minors. A number of appointed advocates failed to inform the relatives of detainees, often failed to challenge rulings of preventative measures, did not take steps to initiate investigations into allegations of torture, etc.

40. Despite the requirements stipulated in Article 131.2 of the CPC and Article 223 of the CPC, in 60 percent of cases no medical check-ups after detention and delivery were conducted, and in another 22 percent of cases this remained unknown, even though in 55 percent of cases, according to detainees’ accounts, they were beaten up during delivery, and in 65 percent of cases they talked about those and other violations to their advocate, even if much later.

41. Unlike the right to medical aid (medical check-up) immediately after detention, when this right, as a minimum, in 60 percent of cases was not provided, when being placed under arrest in an investigative unit, detainees placed in pre-trial detention centre were inspected by medical staff in 72 percent of cases, and in another 10 percent of cases it remained unknown. In doing so, in 43 percent of cases bodily injuries were registered, and in another 36 percent of cases it remained unknown.

42. Relatives were timely informed on the locations where the detainees were kept after being delivered to investigative units, in 55 percent of cases; however, in 30 percent of cases, detainees were kept incommunicado, and in another 13 percent of cases, this remained unknown.

43. Based on the findings of the research study, investigative activities were conducted with an advocate in presence in 76 percent of cases; in doing so, defence motions were not granted in full in 22 percent of cases, and only partially, in 41 percent of cases. In 65 percent of cases, advocates challenged the investigative activities being conducted in respect of their clients, and violations that were allowed in the process. However, those motions were granted only in 10 percent of cases, and in another 30 percent of cases, only certain complaints were granted. In 60 percent of cases, no complaints were granted.

44. The provided information indicates serious systemic problems, for the resolution of which it is important to raise the respective questions before the Kazakhstan authorities.

Prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment (arts. 2 and 7)

45. Despite the Committee’s repeated enquiries and recommendations, the definition of torture in the criminal legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan does not fully comply with the definition contained in the UN Convention Against Torture.

46. All places of detention, pre-trial detention centres, temporary detention facilities and administrative correctional facilities continue to be under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Furthermore, a number of pre-trial detention centres are under the jurisdiction of the National Security Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan. It should be noted that both state bodies carry out pre-trial investigation of criminal cases.

47. The authorities of Kazakhstan do not give any satisfactory answer to the question why detention facilities are not transferred to the jurisdiction of a civilian agency, as is customary under the best foreign practice.

48. The problem of overcrowding in detention facilities is being resolved on a step-by-step basis, however according to the official data, the funding of the Committee of the Correctional System of Kazakhstan is made on a residual basis (70% of the required funds are allocated annually for maintenance, of which 52% is the wage fund). It is important to note that during the years of independence of Kazakhstan, not a single new facility has been built, while the existing penitentiary infrastructure is completely worn out, which fact does not allow to fully ensure the proper conditions for the detention of convicts (three facilities were built in the 30s, four in the 40s, sixteen in the 50s of the XX century). Low wages, high level of physical, moral, psychological stresses, risks to life and health, even with the existing social benefits, do not attract qualified specialists and lead to high staff turnover in the bodies and facilities of the penal system. All this leads to the systemic problems of observance of human rights in detention facilities in Kazakhstan.

49. In the recent time, the principle of non-refoulement has been generally respected by Kazakhstan. But, unfortunately, at the moment, there is the lack of the unified legal practice for examining cases of expulsion of refugees. On 16 November 2022, Kazakhstan deported Abdul Basir Naveed Ahmad, the Afghan citizen, born in 1989, to his country of residence, where there is a fear that he will be subjected to torture. The ban on the forced expulsion should remain in place until the human rights situation in Afghanistan improves. On 29December 2022, Kazakhstan deported Russian officer Mikhail Zhilin who fled Russia because he did not want to participate in the war in Ukraine. He was deported to Russia in spite of the fact that his trial on asylum have not been finished yet. It raises serious concerns about the observance of rights of refugees in Kazakhstan.     

50. The institute of independent experts in Kazakhstan remains fairly underdeveloped. The access of an independent expert to a victim of torture is hindered, since it is necessary to obtain a permission from the court or the head of the facility, and thus, the time is lost, which is very needed to provide assistance to the victim and record the damage as per the Istanbul Protocol. In addition, the courts reject or do not review the results of independent examinations under far-fetched pretexts.

51. During the tragic January events of 2022, the medical workers called to the Police Department of the Almaty Oblast to provide urgent medical assistance to detainees did not record the injuries of the victims of torture and, according to the detainees, asked the latter not to look at them so as not to be identified in the future, realizing that the failure to report the facts of torture would be treated as complicity therein. It should be noted that during the January events, the citizens of neighbouring countries were especially affected, as they were looking for criminals from abroad. One victim from Kyrgyzstan had both legs broken, but the doctor did not record an open fracture, although it was more than noticeable. Not a single doctor has been punished so far.

52. The procedure for lodging complaints by convicts continues to be ineffective. The terminals for filing complaints do not work, typing a text thereon is difficult. Convicts complain that their complaints are not registered and not sent to addressees.

53. Since 2020, the Fund for Compensation for Victims of Crime, including victims of torture, has been operating in Kazakhstan. It should be noted that the activities of the Fund are based on the single and fixed compensation rate, regardless of the degree of material and moral damage, and are directly linked to the MCI in the Republic of Kazakhstan, thus totalling in average up to $320. As of the end of December 2022, several situations are known when payments were made to the victims in the cases of torture in Taldykorgan, allegedly under the Law “On the Compensation Fund for Victims”. The payments to the victims of torture ranged on average from €100 to €245, although under the above law, the minimum amount of payment to a victim of torture should be €195.

Conditions of detention (art. 10)

54. Article 428 (para 3) of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan establishes the criminal liability of convicts sentenced to deprivation of liberty for “… disobedience to the lawful demands of the administration of a penitentiary institution…”, that means the organization of the group disobedience to the lawful demands of the administration of an institution that ensures the isolation from the society, and equally the participation in the group disobedience, involving the use of violence or deliberate infliction of any damage to oneself, or entailing other grave consequences. Within the meaning of this article of the Kazakhstan Criminal Code, self-mutilation, i.e. infliction of harm by convicts to their own health is treated as one of the forms of disorganization of the normal activity of a correctional institution for the execution of punishments related to the isolation from the society.

55. The courts that pronounce guilty verdicts on such convicts and add terms of imprisonment to them do not give a comprehensive assessment of the reasons for such behaviour of the convicts, do not investigate, for example, causal relationships of self-mutilation with the actions of the administration of the correctional institution to search the premises of convicts, check their belongings or other property, infringement of their rights.

56. A particular concern is placed on the existence of mixed security facilities within the penitentiary system of Kazakhstan, and more specifically the conditions of detention of certain categories of convicts.

57. According to the information obtained from the participants of the National Preventive Mechanism for the Prevention of Torture in the Republic of Kazakhstan, in a number of pre-trial detention centres of the Republic of Kazakhstan, identified as “hybrid security units” in Article 89 of the Criminal Enforcement Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, there are the so-called special areas (спецучастки), that contain convicts sentenced to imprisonment, moreover, those sentenced by the court to serving sentences in the different facilities. Based on such information concerning such group of convicts sentenced to imprisonment, we believe there are gross violations of their rights, primarily related to the conflict of legal rules contained in the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Criminal Code) and the Criminal Executive Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Penal Code).

58. It should be specifically noted that the Criminal Code does not have a definition of a “hybrid security unit,” so a court of law may not prescribe an individual to be sentenced to serve his/her sentence in a “hybrid security unit,” just like it may not decide to transfer a person to a “hybrid security unit,” not to mention a convict may only be transferred from one establishment to another on the basis of a court judgment.

59. However, Article 88.4 of the Penal Code allows the transfer of a convicted person for serving a further sentence from one facility to another of the same type or a hybrid security unit by a decision of the authorized body of the penitentiary system in the following cases:

1) ensuring the safety of the convict…;

2) reorganization or liquidation of the facility;

3) operational needs, with the consent of the convict;

4) the need to maintain law and order in the facility.

60. In other words, if a person sentenced to imprisonment is transferred from one facility to another of the same type by a decision of the Penal System Committee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, provided that such transfer does not change the convict’s legal status, then the transfer to a “hybrid security unit” on the above grounds is carried out without a court judgment and considerably restricts his/her rights.

61. At the same time, the legal status of a person sentenced to imprisonment and sent to serve a sentence to a “hybrid security unit” on the grounds of “the need to maintain law and order in the facility” is determined by Article 92 of the Penal Code, moreover, such form of a facility of the penitentiary system is neither envisaged by the Criminal Code, nor it is mentioned in the conviction verdict pronounced by the court, without a court judgment being issued as to the transfer to such type of facility, and substantially similar or even more restrictive compared to the conditions of serving a sentence in facilities of extraordinary or complete security.

62. Such legal status is regulated by three lines in Article 92.7 of the Penal Code and, without any court verdict effectively equates them to convicts held under strict conditions in facilities of extraordinary or complete security.

63. Moreover, there is nothing that regulates the duration of their stay in such facilities, no educational work is carried out with them, they do not have the opportunity to have long visits, telephone conversations are limited. There is practically no segregation in wards. Very often, convicts from other regions of the Republic are transferred to such facilities based on “operational considerations”, and it is almost impossible to achieve a reverse transfer so that a convict can serve a sentence at his place of residence, since the prerequisite for the transfer under Article 88.4(1) of the Penal Code is showing a positive level of behaviour and availability of places in a facility of the relevant type. It is almost impossible to “achieve” the positive level in such special areas. Also, the convicts have no opportunity to work, earn money, or receive an education.

64. We believe that the above constitutes gross violation of the principles and rules of criminal law, constitutes the torture and ill-treatment, which have nothing to do with legal punishment, as defined in the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment and Punishment ratified by the Republic of Kazakhstan, and requires inclusion in the Committee’s list of issues.

Violence against women, including domestic violence (arts. 3, 6 and 7)

65. Despite the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On the Prevention of Domestic Violence” existing since 2009, the real situation with domestic violence in Kazakhstan continues to be unsatisfactory. Domestic violence has not yet been criminalized, and aggressors usually get away with administrative punishment, which is ineffective. According to the civil society experts, in particular, Kh. K. Azhigulova, “commencing from 2019, domestic violence, including wilful minor harm to health is punished only by way of warning in Kazakhstan. Minor harm to health is still determined according to the old Soviet method: if a person is not hospitalized for 21 days, then he/she has a minor harm to health. The police, prosecutors and judges do not care that in modern realities such definition has long been outdated, but they still continue to use it. They do not try to put themselves in the place of, say, a beaten mother: she will not stay in the hospital for 21 days because she has small children who need care and protection against an abusive father. Therefore, the beaten woman, of course, will leave the hospital with a broken arm, ribs, jaw or with a concussion, while the abuser will only get a warning”. Thus, the issues contained in the List of Issues of the Committee prior to the submission of the Second Periodic Report on the implementation of the ICCPR and the recommendations in the Final Observations of the Committee after its consideration, unfortunately, continue to be relevant. 

Freedom of movement; treatment of aliens, including refugees and asylum seekers (arts. 6, 7, 12 and 13)

66. No step has been taken to bring the system of mandatory registration of persons at the place of residence (so-called “propiska” since Soviet times) into line with Article 12 of the Covenant.

67. As for the rights of asylum-seekers, refugees and stateless persons, as well as internal migration, the following questions may be raised:

– whether the legislation has been changes such that to ensure the full-scale medical and social assistance to refugees/asylum seekers;

– whether a procedure has been developed for accepting applications for granting the status of a refugee/asylum seeker in the absence of identity documents;

– whether the procedures have been developed and whether the laws have been amended such that to fully ensure the access of refugees to the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan;

– whether amendments have been made to the Law “On the State Border of the Republic of Kazakhstan”, exempting from punishment for the forced illegal crossing of the state border by asylum seekers;

– due to the change in the legislation on the control of the movement of citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan within the country, regarding the mandatory temporary registration, at the moment it becomes necessary to consider the question: to what extent such changes were required and whether it is possible to review them;

– what changes are planned to be made to the temporary registration procedure for citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan/migrants/refugees;

– has the legislation been amended to provide a total ban on the extradition of asylum seekers to a country where they may be in danger of being subjected to torture or other ill-treatment

– whether a specific government body has been established by law, where homeless people could register at a place of their residence and obtain an identity document and enjoy civil and political rights;

– whether the mandatory registration at places of residence and temporary stay (residence) of citizens, as well as the administrative liability for residency without registration and not at the place of registration for citizens and homeowners has been cancelled.

68. According to the new Law adopted in 2020 concerning the procedure for organizing and holding peaceful assemblies in the Republic of Kazakhstan, foreigners, refugees and stateless persons do not have the right to organize or participate in any peaceful assemblies. The question arises to that extent whether such provision of the Kazakhstan law complies with Articles 13, 2 and 26 of the Covenant.

Freedom of religion or belief, peaceful; assembly and association (Articles 2, 18, 21, 22 and 26)

69. In December 2021, certain amendments were introduced to the legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan on religion, but in general they did little to change the government’s restrictive approach to the religious practice. The permissive registration principle for the establishment and operation of religious organizations continues to exist, and any religious gathering outside a registered place of worship requires a detailed description of the proposed gathering to be submitted to local authorities 10 business days in advance.

70. The requirement, reminiscent of Soviet censorship, to obtain a positive opinion from the state religious expert examination for published or imported religious literature and materials of religious content, unless they are produced or imported by religious associations registered in Kazakhstan is still in place. The restrictive provisions regarding the registration of missionary activities continue to exist. The right to refuse military service on religious or other grounds continues to be denied.    

71. The Civil Code and the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Public Associations single out, for unknown reasons, religious associations as a separate type of non-profit organisations, although legally they are public associations, and the requirements to them are much stronger than to an ordinary public association. The recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief, who visited Kazakhstan in 2014 (A/HRC/28/66/Add.1), remained unimplemented. Therefore, it would be desirable that the issues related to discriminatory regulations in respect of religious associations in comparison with public associations and non-implementation of the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur are included in the Committee’s list of issues.

72. The new Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the procedure for organising and holding peaceful assemblies, adopted in 2020, despite the serious criticism from the international and national experts and human rights organisations, is largely inconsistent with the international standards, in particular with the provisions of General Comment No. 37 of the Committee to Article 21 of the ICCPR on the right to peaceful assemblies and the Guidelines of the OSCE and the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe on freedom of peaceful assemblies, as well as the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of peaceful assemblies and freedom of association, who visited the Republic of Kazakhstan in 2015 (A/HRC/29/25/Add.2). The same was also noted in the opinion of Sarah Cleveland, the leading international expert, former vice-chairman and member of the Committee, who prepared a legal opinion on the draft Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the procedure for organizing and holding peaceful assemblies, and the Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of peaceful assemblies and freedom of association, who expressed his opinion on the Draft Law (Ref.: OL KAZ 1/2020).

73. Article 32 of the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan guarantees the right to meetings, rallies and demonstrations, street processions and pickets. Thus, in essence, the Constitution not only guarantees the right to peaceful assembly, but also defines its types. Further, the Kazakhstani legislation is developing along the same path of compiling an exhaustive list of types of peaceful assemblies, and viewing any types of peaceful assembly, other than those that are specified in the Law and for which a notice or application for permit is required to be made, as not permitted. A real-life example of this is the case when, on 1 October 2020, the Almaty city akimat refused to permit a peaceful assembly in response to a notice of an “artmob” and a “guidepark.” The akimat’s letter expressly stated that since such forms of peaceful assembly are not listed in the Law on the procedure for organising and holding peaceful assemblies in the Republic of Kazakhstan, this fact is the ground for denying the permission.

74. A very controversial is the definition of “picketing” adopted in the 2020 Law, which, in contrast to the internationally accepted definition of a picket being a small group of individuals, means only a single-person event. Accordingly, two or more people together are not considered to be a “picket” but, apparently, as a “meeting” or “rally.” For this matter, it is necessary to return to the Committee’s Views in the case of Sviridov v. Kazakhstan (CCPR/C/120/D/2158/2012), which have not been fully implemented.

75. It is noteworthy that at the same time, paragraphs 5-7 of Article 488 of the Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Administrative Offenses use the concept of “other public event” which does not meet the criteria of legal certainty and predictability, which, when organized and held “in violation of the procedure established by the legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the procedure for organising and conducting peaceful assemblies,” will entail administrative liability, even though the Law does not have such a definition.

76. As noted above, the Law contains discriminatory provisions that prohibit foreigners, stateless persons and refugees from organising and participating in peaceful assemblies, as well as minors from organising peaceful assembly, which are in direct contradiction with international standards and violate the international obligations of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

77.  Of particular concern are also the provisions of the Law that impose restrictions that are inconsistent with international standards, according to which peaceful assemblies other than single-person pickets can only be held in special places allocated by the local authorities (maslikhats). On the basis of Article 8 of the 2020 Law, the maslikhats at all levels began issuing resolutions allocating special places for peaceful assemblies. In practical terms, this has been realised in such a way that, for example, in Almaty, the largest city in Kazakhstan (over two million one hundred thousand inhabitants), in June 2020, the city Maslikhat adopted a decision by which it allocated three places for assemblies and rallies (a park with a maximum occupancy of 200 people, a garden square behind the cinema that can host for up to 500 people, and one more garden square for up to 1000 people), and one route for all marches and demonstrations. It remains unclear where peaceful assemblies with more than those numbers can be held.

78. Although last year and this year a few peaceful assemblies were permitted to be held, the overall situation with respect to exercise of this right remains unsatisfactory, with authorities denying the permit to hold peaceful assemblies (the initiators of the women’s march they planned to hold next year on 8 March, and submitted their notice this December, were refused because it turned out that both the route and all three places had already been occupied by a pro-government public organisation), spontaneous assemblies are prohibited, and citizens peacefully protesting are subjected to kettling, detention, fines and administrative arrests.

79. In essence, all the issues contained in the Committee’s List of Issues prior to the submission of the Second Periodic Report on the implementation of the ICCPR and recommendations in the Committee’s Concluding Observations following its consideration, concerning the right to freedom of peaceful assembly regrettably continue to be topical.

80. Similarly, the issues contained in the Committee’s List of Issues prior to the Second Periodic Report on the implementation of the ICCPR and the recommendations in the Committee’s Concluding Observations following its consideration, concerning the right to freedom of association, continue to be relevant. The establishment and operation of informal associations are still prohibited.

81. It should also be noted that the procedure for registering legal entities has changed significantly in Kazakhstan over the past few years. For example, for small businesses a notification procedure of registration has been established whereby constituent documents (charters and foundation agreement) are no longer required to be submitted to the registration authority. The timing of the registration of private businesses is now only one business day. Given the widespread introduction of the e-government web portal, it is possible to submit a notification via the e-government portal from the comfort of one’s office or home.  These undoubtedly positive changes in the registration procedure, however, do not apply to non-profit organisations, including trade unions, which are still subject to an authorisation registration procedure with the justice authorities.

82. In 2016, as part of the fight against terrorist financing, an extensive package of legal acts was adopted, including the Kazakhstan Law on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing. This law specifies which transactions involving money and/or other assets are subject to financial monitoring, and also specifies the transactions that are not monitored.  The Criminal Code and the Code of Administrative Offenses contain articles that stipulate liability for offenses in this area (Article 218 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan “Legalization (laundering) of money and/or other property obtained by way of a crime,” Article 214 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan “Violations of the Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the fight against legalization (laundering) of criminal proceeds and the financing of terrorism,” etc.). Amendments to the Law dated 13 May 2020 also introduced additional liability for subjects of financial monitoring for non-compliance with the requirements of the Law in terms of failure to submit information upon request of the authorized body. However, the transactions with money/assets involving non-profit organisations (NPOs), receipts from abroad into NPO accounts, transactions with money/assets related to charitable activities without NPO involvement, and transactions with money/assets involving NPOs that have a religious strand are all considered suspicious transactions and are subject to financial monitoring. Thus, absolutely all funds received by the NPO are subject to financial monitoring. In addition, annually NPOs submit reports about their activities that take place during the year to the Ministry of Information and Community Development. In such reports they detail all of their income and expenditures and the projects they implement, funded both from domestic and foreign sources.

83. In addition, the Kazakhstan Tax Code now contains Article 29, which provides that a person and/or structural subdivisions of a legal entity must in certain cases notify the tax authorities upon receipt, spending money and/or other assets received from foreign states, international and foreign organisations, foreigners and stateless persons. Article 29.1 provides that individuals and/or legal entities and their structural subdivisions must notify the tax authorities of the receipt of money and/or other property from foreign states, international and foreign organisations, foreigners and stateless persons in excess of the amount established by the authorised body, where the activities of the recipient of money and/or other property are aimed at:

– providing legal assistance, including legal information, defence and representation of then interests of citizens and organizations, and providing advice;

– study and conduct of public opinion polls, sociological surveys, except for public opinion polls and sociological surveys conducted for commercial purposes, as well as distribution and placement of their results;

– сollecting, analysing and disseminating information, except when such activities are carried out for commercial purposes.

84. Pretty much everything said falls within the human rights activities. At the same time, the amount of money and other assets the receipt of which the persons have to report to the tax authorities is set at 1 tenge (USD 0.002). In addition to notifications, such persons must also submit to the tax authority information on how such money and/or other assets received from foreign states, international and foreign organisations, foreigners, stateless persons were received and spent, in the manner, within the time limits and in form established by the authorised body.

85. Failure to comply with Article 29 of the Tax Code provides for administrative liability under Article 460-1 of the Code of Administrative Offences of the Republic of Kazakhstan (CAO) for violation of the reporting procedure on the receipt or expenditure of money and/or other assets from foreign states, international and foreign organisations, foreigners, stateless persons.

86. The Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan still provides for the specific liability of the “leader of a public association”. In addition, Article 405 of the Criminal Code “Organisation and participation in the activity of a public or religious association or another organisation after a court judgment has been issued banning it or liquidating it due to its links to extremism or terrorism” is actively used against members and supporters of public associations, especially opposition political parties, and religious associations. The opposition political movements “Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan” (in 2018) and “Kөshe partiyasy” (in 2020), which did not call for violence or practice violence, were banned for extremism in reliance on that very article, while their supporters or even ordinary citizens who expressed support for their programmes or any statements of their leaders have been prosecuted and sentenced to long terms in prison simply for supporting those movements without any statements or violent actions.

Fair Trial (Art.14)

87. There is a questionable, including “politicized”, application of a plea bargain aiming at a speedy (fast-track) trial, moreover, in a number of cases against human rights defenders, civil activists, opposition politicians there is in practice a “bargaining” for a plea in exchange for a lesser punishment.

88. Courts do not pay due attention to complaints of torture. This has been observed in a number of cases in connection with the January events.

89. The access to court for observers under the circumstances of COVID -19 was plainly unavailable in many cases: there was no physical access to court buildings, for example, in the capital, starting from mid-March 2020. In order for an observer to gain access to a court session, the observer needs to possess information which until 2020 had been posted on the websites of the courts, however, during the period of COVID-19, no such information was posted on the websites of the courts. It was necessary to submit a motion online, while a non-party to a case is not entitled to file motions pursuant to the Civil Procedure Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Criminal Procedure Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Administrative Offenses and the Administrative Procedure and Process-related Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Moreover, a motion must be filed at least 1 hour before the start of an open court session. The Supreme Court of Kazakhstan, for example, responded to the complaint: “The court database of the Supreme Court shows that your request to join the court session was received by the court on that day later than 1 hour before the start of the court session, so it was not considered”. It is necessary to get the phone number of the secretary of the court session (not publicly available), and one of the parties should make the motion that an observer should be joined to the process. It should be noted that we are talking about open trials, that can be freely attended by any person, unless the proceedings are conducted online.

90. Although the period of the COVID-19-related severe restrictions has ended, online trials, including in criminal cases, continue to be widely used in Kazakhstan, sometimes, even with compulsion to an online hearing without a choice of the form of trial. Furthermore, the courts have begun to practice semi-closed trials in terms of physical access to a courtroom. This means that only the parties stay in a courtroom, while independent observers and journalists, as well as the public, are invited to watch the process in another room via video link, which is usually of very poor quality.

91. In breach of Article 14.3 (b) of the Covenant on the right of everyone to a lawyer of his/her choice, in Kazakhstan, where a case involves information or documents containing state secrets, only lawyers holding a permit to access state secrets, which is issued by the justice authorities, may participate in such case. Thus, a suspect, accused or defendant may not use a lawyer of his/her choice, but has to choose a lawyer from the list of those who have access, since not all lawyers may obtain such permit. This issue was raised by the Committee in its Observations in Yesergepov vs Kazakhstan case (CCPR/C/116/D/2129/2012) and by the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in its Opinion 57/2022 concerning Karim Massimov (A/HRC/WGAD/2022/57), but no change has been made so far.

92. In breach of Article 14.1 of the Covenant, which provides that “any judicial decision in a criminal or civil matter must be public, except where the interests of minors require otherwise, or where the case relates to matrimonial disputes or custody of children”, the civil procedure and criminal legislation of Kazakhstan only provide for the possibility of announcing the operative part of a judgement, and in some cases the legislation allows not to publicly disclose a court decision at all when it comes to state secrets. Moreover, in the case of political scientist Konstantin Syroyezhkin, who was sentenced in 2019 to prison for 10 years for the alleged treason, he himself not merely had no access to a number of materials in his own criminal case, but also the reasoning part of the verdict was not communicated to him.

93. The bodies conducting pre-trial investigations of criminal cases abuse the secrecy of pre-trial investigation data, which is enshrined in Article 201 of the Criminal Procedure Code. Invoking the above article, interrogators and investigators take a written undertaking not to disclose any information about the criminal case at all, threatening prosecution for disclosing the secrets of the pre-trial investigation. This includes information about charges brought against a person and other information that is not even directly related to the progress of the investigation. Moreover, such written undertaking is taken from witnesses, experts, lawyers, and even from the very suspect or accused, which fact, in our opinion, violates the principles of publicity, equality of parties and the right to defense in a broad sense.

94. The infringement of the right to a fair trial against civil activists, human rights defenders, journalists and opposition politicians is of particular concern. In cases against such persons, the political motivation of the criminal prosecution and the predetermined accusatory nature of the criminal process are obvious. This also applies to Zhanbolat Mamai and Yermek Narymbaev, Yerzhan Yelshibayev, Shukhrat Kibirov, Zhanmurat Ashtaev, Yerulan Amirov, Bekizhan Mendygaziev, Danat Namazbaev, Mikhail Kozachkov, as well as other civil activists who are being persecuted and repressed.

Safety of human rights defenders

95. The safety of human rights defenders continues to be a problem. According to the data of Kadir Kasiyet Public Association, in just 11 months of 2022, more than 800 cases of threats to human rights defenders and civil activists were recorded, of which men are almost 2 times more than women. The number of threats against women increased from 30% in 2017 up to 34.6% in 2022. In 2016 – 458, in 2017 – 487, in 2018 – 489, in 2019 – 733, in 2020 – 1,414, in 2021 – 1,586 cases of threats.

96. The State demonstrates the ineffectiveness of the investigation of attacks on human rights defenders. In particular, no progress has been observed so far in the investigation of attacks on human rights defenders and journalists at the office of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law in July 2019 and on Zhanar Sekerbaeva and Gulzad Serzhan, the leaders of Feminita, a Kazakhstan feminist initiative, in the cities of Shymkent, Karaganda and threats to them in the city of Aktobe in May-June 2021. In March 2022, the Ombudsman announced the creation of a working group to protect human rights defenders, however, so far there is no information about the real results of its activities.

December 2022