The State of Human Rights in Kazakhstan

A new report (download here) has arrived in our mailboxes from the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law, which takes a look at the country’s human rights record during the first half of the year in which they have been appointed Chair of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).  We shouldn’t be too surprised about its conclusions, especially given the terrible treatment of activist Yevgeny Zhovtis.  The accompanying cover memo sent along with the report is the following info: 

To prepare this report, Bureau staff observed 28 peaceful assemblies in six cities across Kazakhstan from January – May 2010. The Director of the Bureau, Yevgeniy Zhovtis, is a member of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights’ (OSCE/ODIHR) panel of experts on freedom of assembly. Mr. Zhovtis contributed to this report.

The Bureau concludes that Kazakhstan’s policies and practice regarding freedom of assembly do not conform to its domestic legislation and international commitments.

The Bureau also observes that, despite the generally prohibitive practice regarding freedom of peaceful assembly in Kazakhstan, citizens are increasingly exercising their assembly rights. The report’s findings will serve as the basis for the Bureau and other domestic civil society organizations to issue recommendations on how to align the implementation of Kazakhstan’s domestic legislation with its international commitments. It will also serve as the basis for future initiatives to educate citizens about their rights to assembly.