January 20, 2011
His Excellency Nursultan Nazarbayev
President Republic of Kazakhstan
We are writing to express our dismay that Kazakhstan’s leading human rights defender, Mr. Yevgeniy Zhovtis, was not granted early release after the expiration of one-third of his four year sentence for vehicular manslaughter. In spite of being the victim of arbitrary treatment while incarcerated, Mr. Zhovtis fulfilled all reasonable requirements for early release. He has also expressed his sincere regret for the loss of life that resulted from the accident in which he was involved and provided material compensation to the family of the victim, while firmly maintaining that he was not guilty of a criminal offense.
Independent observers and analysts have concluded that the investigation, trial, and appeal of Mr. Zhovtis’ case were marred by with fundamental violations of the laws of the Republic of Kazakhstan and of international human rights standards. These flaws have had a profoundly negative effect on your country’s standing in the international community.
The continued incarceration of Mr. Zhovtis, who actively contributed to the drafting of your government’s National Plan for Human Rights reflects poorly on the state of human rights and rule of law in Kazakhstan. We encourage your government to take whatever steps are necessary, consonant with legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan, to undo this miscarriage of justice. It is crucial for Kazakhstan’s government and justice system to be able to correct flaws such as those seen in the investigation, trial, and appeal of Mr. Zhovtis.
Your government’s failure to release Mr. Zhovtis calls into serious question Kazakhstan’s intention to fulfill its human dimension commitments as reiterated late last year at the OSCE summit in the Astana Commemorative Declaration.
We call on you to reverse the decision that keeps Mr. Zhovtis in jail.
Open Society Foundation
Netherlands Helsinki Committee
Norwegian Helsinki Committee
Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights
International Partnership for Human Rights
Youth Human Rights Group
Humanitarian Legal Center
Chairman of the Board
Voice of Freedom
Economic Justice Foundation
International Crisis Group
Moscow Helsinki Group
International Federation for Human Rights
Senior Programmes and Policy Officer
Head of Programme EU-Central Asia Monitoring
Public Foundation “Nota bene”
Independent Centre for Human Rights Protection
Belarusian Helsinki Committee
Human Rights Watch
Director, Human Rights and Democracy
The Foreign Policy Initiative
Golos Svobody Public Foundation
Civil Defense Fund
Centre for Civil Liberties
President and Chief Executive Officer
Human Rights First
Center for National and International Studies
CIVICUS World Alliance for Citizen Participation
Secretariat and Steering Committee
The World Movement for Democracy
Uzbek German Forum for Human Rights