Responses to the list of issues on implementation of CAT for consideration at the 53rd session
The civil society organizations of Kazakhstan express concern that despite measures taken by the government to reform the legal framework on prevention of torture, it continues to occur in more than exceptional cases. The enormous gap between the law and the everyday practice of state agencies is the main challenge facing the victims of torture. Absence of rule of law prevents to enforce regulations developed with good intentions but lacking effective implementation modalities. This is due to prevalent mentality of disrespect to human rights, impunity of state agents, endemic corruption and absence of genuine political will to end torture.
It has to be noted that since 2008 there has been significant deterioration of the human rights situation in the country. The government intensified the repression against free media, political parties, independent NGOs and trade unions. In December 2011, Kazakhstan authorities responded to outbreak of violence after seven-month strike in western Kazakhstan by using firearms, killing 16 and wounding more than 100 people. Kazakhstan, despite calls from the international community, including the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay, has not conducted an open and thorough investigation into the events of 16 December. The senior officials, who authorized the use of firearms against the population, remain unknown. Instead, the government persecuted political activists and trade union leaders. The unregistered political party “Alga” was labeled “an organized crime group” and the instigator of the violence. Charges of instituting a social discord were brought against the party’s leader, Vladimir Kozlov, and some of the members, Serik Sapargali and Akzhanat Aminov, who were convicted and sentenced to 7,6 years of imprisonment, 4 and 5 years of conditional imprisonment respectively.
From 2012, a number of independent and opposition newspapers and Internet media outlets have been suspended or shut down. Attacks on independent journalist and civil society activities have dramatically increased. After Zhanaozen events, the government tightened regulations concerning public demonstrations, leaving no room for any form of protests, assembly or demonstrations.
In June 2014 the government announced the adoption of a new Criminal Code, Code of Criminal Procedure (CCP) and Criminal Enforcement Code (CEC) as part of the comprehensive criminal justice reform process. The new statutes, which will enter into effect on 1 January 2015, were intended to ensure efficient system of justice and effective protection of constitutional rights through more adversarial trial. The noble intentions, however, already fell short at the stage of legislation drafting, which was dominated by the Office of Prosecutor General with no consideration for NGO’s input. As a result, the new laws introduce disproportionate criminal and administrative sanctions for violations of media, religion, assembly and association laws.
Some of the concerns raised by the Committee in its 2008 Concluding observations on
Kazakhstan remained unaddressed by the new laws.
In this submission, civil society organizations highlight continuing problems regarding implementation of the UN Convention Against Torture (“UNCAT”) in Kazakhstan, such as the lack of custodial safeguards, ineffective oversight mechanisms, unfair justice system, inadequate response to human trafficking, disrespect to the principle of non-refoulement, poor record of prisoners’ rights, impunity of state officials, insufficient compensation practices, admissibility of evidence obtained through torture and persecution of human rights defenders
The report is based on the information, analysis and expert opinion of the civil society organizations and independent experts of Kazakhstan working in the area of combating torture through monitoring, litigation, legal reform and advocacy.