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Statement in view of the events occurred over the visit of the deputies of the European Parliament to the Republic of Kazakhstan


On 18 September 2018, in Almaty, nearby the Rixos Hotel, where a meeting of deputies of the European Parliament with members of the public of Almaty was held, the police detained Galiya Ospanova who attempted to address the deputies of the European Parliament with respect to the legal prosecution of her son, Aset Nurzhaubay, which, according to the human rights defenders, has a political component. Two other persons, who accompanied her, were also detained.

On the same date, the police officers blocked in her apartment Asel Kopbosynova, the spouse of Almat Zhumagulov, who is also a criminal defendant in another high-profile political process. From 7.00 am, the police officers did not allow her to leave the apartment building.    

A day earlier, in Astana, the police officers detained several persons, including Svetlana Glushkova, a journalist of Nastoyaschee vremya, which is the project of the Kazakh news service of Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe. She was detained near the building where a meeting of the European Parliament’s deputies with the public of Astana was held. Those detentions may be explained by the same reason – the police impeded persons from addressing their complaints against Kazakhstani authorities’ actions to the deputies of the European Parliament.

On the same date, 18 September, in Pavlodar, the proceedings against Elena Semyenova, the human rights defender, came to the end. The court adjudicated Semyenova not guilty, having found no offence in her actions; however, it failed to judge the actions of the police that has forged the case materials, as a result of which the human rights defender could not meet with the European Parliament’s deputies in Astana.

It should be noted that, at present, a criminal case has been instituted under article 274 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan “Distribution of knowingly false information”, which, according to human rights defenders, has been motivated, inter alia, by the speech of Semyenova, a member of Kazakhstan NGO Coalition against Torture, delivered before the European Parliament’s deputies, during which she told about tortures in Kazakhstani prison camps.

It bears reminding that, at the end of the past August, Claude Begle and Carlo Sommaruga, the deputies of the Swiss Parliament, as well as Antonio Stango, the President of the Italian Federation for Human Rights, visited Almaty, Pavlodar and Astana, where they met with Kazakhstani civic activists. However, they failed to meet with activists from Karaganda. People travelling to meet with the deputies were stopped on their way at night by unknown people and were detained for certain time long enough to prevent them from meeting with the participants of the human rights mission.  

The given examples allow saying that the practice of detention by the police officers of the persons trying to meet with official representatives of the European Parliament and officers of human rights missions and organisations is becoming the norm more than ever. They strive to isolate foreign politicians visiting Kazakhstan from people wishing to tell them about the things which are not comfortable with the Kazakhstani authorities. 

In this regard, we express our objection against the above actions of the law enforcement officers and those plainclothes unidentified persons who were also involved in such illegal and flagrant actions.

We state that the authorities of Kazakhstan once again employ the practice of detentions and intimidation of civilians trying to meet with representatives of international human rights organisations, public officials and mass media. Moreover, Kazakhstani intelligence services practice spying on foreign delegations, including the highest-level delegations. Maina Kiai, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of assembly and of association, noted this fact in his 2015 declaration, who arrived to Kazakhstan with a special visit and who noticed spying upon him in Aktau, which fact was highlighted by him in the report summarizing the results of the visit (http://www.adilet.gov.kz/ru/node/103163).

The said unlawful actions intended for restriction of civil rights and liberties violate article 21 of the Kazakhstan Constitution and article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantee the right of citizens to free movement. Moreover, such actions of the national security, defence and law enforcement agencies, prove disrespect of our authorities for law and international treaties and show the Republic of Kazakhstan as a police-run state that freely violates the rights of its citizens.

In view of the above, Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law is hereby requesting you to consider this declaration as an open letter to K. Kasymov, Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, K. Kozhamzharov, Prosecutor General of the Republic of Kazakhstan, K. Abdrakhmanov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and D. Kaletaev, Minister of Social Development, and is requesting you to stop the practice of spying, intimidation and illegal detentions of persons addressing their complaints to international organisations or meeting with foreign politicians, journalists and human rights defenders, who visit our country in full compliance with the Kazakhstan international obligations for protection of human rights and the provisions of the Moscow Document of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe regarding the recognition of human rights extraterritorial, i.e. being the focus of attention of all countries and the basis for world order rather than the internal affair of a separate state.

We are also urging you to make the legal and political judgments about the above actions of the law enforcement officers from the perspective of our country’s international image, and to make a full-scale inspection of the abovementioned facts, and to take appropriate disciplinary measures, administrative and legal measures and, possibly, criminal law measures towards both actual doers and persons who delivered illegal orders to them.

20 September 2018, Almaty

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