Statement on the arrest and trial of NSC officers on January events


The NGO Coalition against Torture in Kazakhstan considers that the Opinion of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, issued on 25 October 2022 in relation to Mr Karim Massimov, former Chairman of the National Security Committee of Kazakhstan, is considerate and well-reasoned.

The complaint filed by an unidentified party on behalf of Mr Massimov alleges gross violations of international fair trial standards, including the person’s right to know the specific offence he is charged with; the right to inform his family and the public of the offence he is charged with; the right to qualified legal counsel of his choice; guarantees of not to be arbitrarily arrested in relation to the justification of detention; the right to contact his family; and possibly also the unjustified use of the secrecy regime.

For this matter, the NGO Coalition against Torture in Kazakhstan adheres to the principle that anyone whose accusation or guilt of a crime has not been proven should be released.

According to official records, following the tragic events of January 2022, some ten thousand people were detained. Many of the detentions fell into the category of arbitrary detention. Moreover, hundreds of detainees alleged torture. The NGO Coalition against Torture in Kazakhstan alone received 190 complaints of torture and ill-treatment against protesters.

To date persons whose guilt of unlawful acts during the January events has not been proven are still being released from pre-trial detention facilities. Many of those released have alleged torture or ill-treatment, but their reports have been ignored.

With regard to all of the above, the NGO Coalition against Torture in Kazakhstan remains steadfast in its position, both in relation to Mr. Massimov personally and in relation to hundreds of others arrested.

Only a thorough, open and impartial investigation can corroborate or refute the statements and testimony of those who have alleged arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment.

The NGO Coalition Against Torture in Kazakhstan, the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law (KIBHR) and the Human Rights Alliance for Fundamental Rights (of which KIBHR is a member) have called for an independent international or “hybrid” investigation into these events by respected international and national experts, which investigation would be capable of fulfilling recommendations made by the UN bodies and providing answers to questions about the legitimacy of prosecutions against certain people for the January events.

The trial of Karim Massimov and others involved in the January events, who, according to the investigation, are key figures in the organisation of the unrest across the country, is currently underway. At the same time, the top secrecy regime applied to this case and several other cases relating to the January events raises doubts as to the impartiality and objectivity of the investigation; including that no torture or other ill-treatment has been used against the accused.