The international organization Human Rights Watch (HRW), which monitors the human rights situation in more than 90 countries around the world, called on the governments of UN member countries to force Kazakh President Kasym-Zhomart Tokaev to fulfill the promises given by him in his inaugural speech on June 12, 2019 after winning presidential election.
The appeal to the heads of governments was published on November 4 on the organization’s website.
“On November 7, 2019, Kazakhstan will report as part of the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva,” the statement said. “Governments should use this opportunity to force the new President to fulfill human rights obligations.”
Recall that the UPR is a part of the structure of the Human Rights Council and provides an opportunity for each country to inform about its measures in order to improve the situation in the field of human rights, as well as fulfill its obligations in this area.
As ACCA already reported, Kazakh non-governmental organizations prepared their reports for the UPR, which describe how the Republic not only violates human rights, but also ignores UN recommendations to improve the situation with civil and political rights.
In particular, the Coalition of Kazakh human rights defenders, which included 20 human rights defenders from 12 human rights organizations and initiative groups of Kazakhstan, prepared a 13-pages report that says that drug users, HIV-positive people, the LGBT community and people with disabilities are subject to discrimination in Kazakhstan both at the legislative level and in practice.
The Kazakh International Bureau for human rights and observance of law in its report intends to inform that only 10 of 147 UN recommendations, adopted by Kazakhstan, are fully implemented, which is 6.8% of the total. At the same time, 103 recommendations are under implementation. Kazakhstan has not yet fulfilled 33 recommendations.
Recall also that in August, HRW sent an official appeal addressed to the President of Kazakhstan, Kasym-Zhomart Tokaev, in which it reminded him of the promises given in his inaugural speech.
“You said that “the government is obliged to hear people’s requests, solve problems on the ground, and regularly report to citizens”. Nevertheless, as you know, the authorities in Kazakhstan are constantly violating the article 32 of the Constitution, which guarantees citizens the right to peaceful protest,” wrote Hugh Williamson, Executive Director of Human Rights Watch for Europe and Central Asia. “The authorities of Kazakhstan usually refuse permission for peaceful protests against government policies. The police suppress even single unauthorized pickets, the organizers and participants of the protest actions are arbitrarily detained. This has been especially evident in recent months, including on the days immediately following the presidential election, when about four thousand people, who went out to protest peacefully against the presidential election, were detained by law enforcement authorities. We urge you, as the guarantor of the Constitution of Kazakhstan, to begin implementing your initiative to review the extremely restrictive law “On the procedure for organizing and holding peaceful meetings, actions, processions, pickets and demonstrations” in the interest of bringing legislation in accordance with Kazakhstan’s international obligations.”
However, apparently, there was no answer to this appeal from the Kazakh authorities. Apparently, this was the reason for the appearance of the HRW appeal to the governments of the UN member countries.
“Kasym-Zhomart Tokaev, who was elected the President of Kazakhstan in June, is well acquainted with the UN. He headed the UN office in Geneva before the first president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbaev, who was at the head of the country for 30 years, made him his successor. Tokaev knows the UN, but, having become President, he was unable to bring Kazakhstan closer to UN standards in the field of human rights,” Hugh Williamson’s words are quoted in the appeal. “The countries participating in the UN review should insist on carrying out much-needed reforms in Kazakhstan that will force the Kazakh authorities to respect dissent and public debate.”
HRW also recalls that Tokaev has not yet fulfilled any of his promises.
“He promised that his government would reform Kazakhstan’s restrictive protest law by the end of the year, and called on local authorities to allow protests,” the statement says. In his annual message to the people of Kazakhstan in September, he promised to strengthen the protection of human rights and carry out “deep reforms of the judicial and law enforcement systems”. However, protesters in Kazakhstan are still being massively detained with the help of special forces. While the authorities allowed some actions to take place without interference from the outside, in September, dozens of people were arrested for protesting rising Chinese investment in Kazakhstan, and more than 100 people were detained at the action organized by a banned opposition movement.
In this regard, HRW strongly recommends that UN members, who take part in the discussion of the UPR of Kazakhstan, call on the administration of Tokaev to fulfill a number of requirements.
Among them: respect for freedom of assembly; allow actions without unreasonable detention or arrest; release convicted activists; amend the article 174 of the Criminal Code “inciting social, national, clan, racial, class or religious strife” and the article 274, which generally prohibits “the dissemination of knowingly false information” in order to prevent arbitrary prosecution of persons violating human rights standards; stop the persecution of labor union activists.
“Kazakhstan continues to be a place where the government persecutes, detains and imprisons those who express dissenting opinions,” HRW quoted Williamson’s words. “The UN supreme human rights body should put the President Tokaev to the test and put pressure on him so that he’ll transfer his expired promises into a real reform.”