Freedom House’s final monitoring report on the trial of Kazakhstani opposition activists Vladimir Kozlov and Akzhanat Aminov, and labor activist Serik Sapargali documents gross violations of the right to a fair trial. The defendants were convicted of inciting social hatred leading to violence on December 16, 2011, when law enforcement killed at least a dozen protesters in the western town of Zhanaozen.
Kozlov Case File, based on continuous monitoring throughout the trial, demonstrates that the trial did not meet international and national standards of the right to a fair trial and impartial justice. In addition to numerous procedural violations documented by Freedom House’s expert monitor, analysis of the verdict shows that the court’s decision relied on broad interpretations of the law to criminalize normal political activities. Most glaringly, the verdict held that Kozlov incited “social hatred” against the government by creating a “negative image and stereotype of the authorities.” The verdict included as fact numerous allegations that were not examined in court.
“The Kozlov trial was a true test of Kazakhstan’s commitment to the rule of law. Unfortunately it was a test Kazakhstan did not pass, and proved the commitment is in name only,” said Susan Corke, Freedom House’s director of Eurasia programs. “A government that imprisons the opposition for criticizing it, in a trial marred by consistent procedural violations, is not a government that observes the rule of law.”
Based on Kozlov’s conviction on October 8th, the government of Kazakhstan has launched a crackdown against a range of opposition media and outlets associated with him by claiming that they are “extremist.” On December 12th, the television station K+ was banned across Kazakhstan. The crackdown comes right before the one-year anniversary of the Zhanaozen events on December 16th.
“What we are seeing in Kazakhstan is a dramatic reduction of political and media space in a country that makes frequent claims to being a leader in human rights,” said Corke. “The international community and especially the United States need to state directly and publicly that what is happening in Kazakhstan is a betrayal of that country’s commitments as a participating State in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and a newly elected member of the UN Human Rights Council. Failure to do so will be seen as complicity in undermining universal rights standards. Kazakhstan cannot be allowed to claim it upholds human rights while repressing the opposition and cutting off press freedom. ”
Kazakhstan is rated Not Free in Freedom of the World 2012, Freedom House’s annual survey of fundamental freedoms, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2012, where it ranked 175th out of 197 countries, and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2012.
You can download report in PDF format HERE