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23 June 2016

The Human Rights Committee today concluded its consideration of the second periodic report of Kazakhstan on its implementation of the provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Presenting the report, Elvira Azimova, Vice Minister of Justice of Kazakhstan, noted that since the first periodic report in 2011, remarkable changes in national laws and practice had taken place in Kazakhstan.  In the beginning of 2015, a number of key laws and decisions had been adopted.  Human rights were closely linked with development, namely with economic growth, political and social development. The strategic goal of the development  of Kazakhstan was to be among the thirty most developed countries in the world by 2050.  Members of the Government reported to the public every year, and the Kazakh society recognized the importance of public participation. 

In the ensuing discussion, Committee Experts sought clarifications on the domestic implementation of the Covenant, competences of the Ombudsman, comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation, equality between men and women, violence against women and girls, detention and torture, and the death penalty.  Other issues raised by the Committee included legal definition of extremism, the high suicide rate in detention centers, use of preventive detention, selection of judges, the use of unauthorized surveillance, registration of political parties and religious associations, limitations to the right to strike, human trafficking, child labour and slavery, and the protection of asylum seekers and refugees.

In her concluding remarks, Ms. Azimova noted that Kazakhstan was attentive to the raised issues, and the Government was determined to hold a constructive dialogue with foreign partners and international organizations, and to continue making progress.  The Government also sought to foster public dialogue on human rights in the country, and to implement benchmarks on the implementation of Committee’s recommendations. 

Fabian Omar Salvioli, Committee Chairperson, commended the dialogue that the delegation had held with the Committee.  He noted that follow-ups on the issues of religious freedom, non-discrimination, detention, the national human rights institution, prevention of torture and adequate compensation, freedom of expression and political participation would be important and that it should guide the Government’s policies. 

The delegation of Kazakhstan included representatives of the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Ministry of Health and Social Development, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Information and Communications, the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan to the United Nations Office at Geneva. 

The Committee will next meet in public today at 3 p.m. to hold a joint meeting with the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the two Covenants. 


The second periodic report Kazakhstan can be found here: CCPR/C/KAZ/2.

Presentation of the Report

ELVIRA AZIMOVA, Vice Minister of Justice of Kazakhstan, noted that since the first periodic report in 2011, remarkable changes in national laws and practice had taken place in Kazakhstan.  In the beginning of 2015, a number of key laws and decisions had been adopted.  Issues related to the Covenant were discussed interactively across the country, with the participation of civil society.  Human rights were closely linked with development, namely with economic growth, and political and social development. The strategic goal of the development  of Kazakhstan was to be among the 30 most developed countries in the world by 2050.  Members of the Government reported to the public every year, and the Kazakh society recognized the importance of public participation.  Some 70 per cent of government-related information was published online.  The regulation for peaceful assemblies allowed citizens to take part in public gatherings without any impediment.  The 2015 Law on Self-Regulation extended the participation of citizens in public life through self-regulated organizations.  As for social relations, a trilateral system of collaboration was in place between workers, employers and the Government. 

The mechanism for the protection of human rights had been ensured through the institution of “ombudsman plus”.  Children’s, banking and finance ombudsman offices were established as well.  Access to justice and the transparency of the judiciary were ensured through the use of modern communication technologies.  Requests could be submitted to courts through Internet.  The training of judges was administered by the Academy of Law, and regular measures were taken to improve the judicial system.  In January 2016, a new Civil Code had entered into force, with the aim to provide constitutional guarantees for the ratification of international treaties and their application in national courts.  Kazakhstan had taken strict measures against torture and victims could claim compensation.  A number of other measures had been taken to ensure the respect for human rights, develop the country and ensure stability.  For example, the migration service had reviewed their visa requirements for tourists and business people. 

Ms. Azimova informed that a council of religious leaders had been created in order to preserve social harmony and cohesion, as a response to the terrorist threat.  Efforts had been made to improve access to education for children with disabilities, and women made up 30 per cent of parliamentary deputies.  Ms. Azimova noted that Kazakhstan was a peaceful home to 130 ethnicities and 18 religious confessions.  It was one of the safest countries and one with some of the highest rates of well-being.  The country had already achieved goals with respect to poverty reduction, access to education and gender equality. 

Questions by Experts

As for the Constitutional and legal framework for the implementation of the Covenant, an Expert noted that the Constitution stipulated that international treaties had primacy over Kazakh laws and would be directly implemented.  At the same time, the application of a treaty would require promulgation of a law.  In which cases would a ratified treaty be subject to the promulgation of a law?  According to some reports by civil society, courts almost never applied the Covenant and only referred to it.  Provisions of the Covenant had been implemented only once. 

With respect to the national prevention mechanism, namely the Ombudsman, what were the methods for the creation of his office?  In 2012, the Human Rights Commission of Kazakhstan had been granted B status, which was not fully in line with the Paris Principles.  The competences of the Ombudsman were limited, namely the Ombudsman could not rule on the decisions of the President, the Parliament, the Cabinet and the General Procurator.  What measures had been taken by the Government to remedy the limited competences of the Ombudsman?  As for the composition of the Ombudsman’s office, while there was a greater representation of civil society, it did not resolve the problem of financial and human resources.  What progress had been made in improving the status of the Ombudsman’s office? 

An Expert brought up the issue of anti-discrimination legislation, saying that such comprehensive legislation did not exist, and there was almost no jurisprudence on discrimination on any ground.  Civil society criticized the Government over failing to protect citizens from hate motivated violence on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.  Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intrasex persons frequently faced discrimination through negative media coverage, and were forcefully sterilized.  What measures had been taken to reduce such discrimination?  Did the State party have a plan to treat same-sex partners as equal with other couples?

The proportion of schools with inclusive education for children with disabilities was supposed to increase to 70 per cent by 2020.  However, there was insufficiency of trained staff.  What further measures could be taken to that end, asked the Expert.

On equality between men and women, a target of 30 per cent of female decision makers had been set.  However, such progress had been slow and the target of 30 per cent had not yet been met.  What kind of measures could be taken to increase women’s participation in decision-making?  Women primarily took unpaid work at home, or low paid jobs.  How did the State party plan to overcome such structural inequalities in order to decrease the gender pay gap?

It was noted that concern remained that cases of sexual and domestic violence remained underreported because of the culture of silence.  Was there an effective mechanism to encourage women to report such incidents to law enforcement authorities?  Were such cases investigated and prosecuted by the authorities ex officio?  Was it true that criminal proceedings could be terminated because of the reconciliation of parties?  Was it true that the victim of rape could not benefit from free legal services, while the perpetrator could receive free legal defence?  More information was asked about funds allocated to shelters for women.

On detention, was there a provision in the Criminal Code that a failure to inform a detainee was a violation of his rights?  Independent lawyers often faced difficulties in accessing their climate in pre-trial detention.  What were court proceedings in cases of state secrets, and what was the meaning of “state secrets”? 

Regarding access to judge for detainees, the Kazakh law provided for a 72-hour period until a person had to be brought in front of a judge, and an extension beyond 72 hours was also possible.  Did the Prosecutor-General have the power to extend pre-trial detention to more than four months?  What was the role of the Office of Judicial Investigator?

With respect to the definition of extremism, what legal guidance did legal institutions provide to clarify those conceptions and what was the standard applied to identify a group as an extremist movement?  How many closed criminal trials had been held in the context of extremism and what kind of human rights standards were applied?

There was a high level of torture in the country and failure to provide full reparation to the victims.  What actions were exempt from the definition of torture?  What steps had been taken to amend the definition of torture contained in article 416 of the Criminal Code with a view to ensuring that it cover acts of torture committed by any “other person acting in an official capacity” and to removing the defence of physical and mental suffering caused as a result of “legitimate acts” of officials?  For the crimes of torture not resulting in grave injury and death, the first offender was allowed to reconcile with the victim and thus avoid a criminal procedure.  What was the status of that draft bill on victims’ compensation and how would full compensation be established?  What plans did Kazakhstan have for the transfer of the monitoring of the penitentiary system?  Question was also asked on the power of  the Special Procurators to investigate cases of torture.  Many claims alleging torture had been dismissed due to the lack of evidence.  What was the average length of torture investigations?  Detailed statistics should be provided. 

On death penalty, it was not clear whether Kazakhstan was moving towards abolition or moratorium, said an Expert.  There was a list of crimes that could lead to the death penalty.  Were there any changes to the Criminal Code?  As for cruel treatment against detainees, the information provided by the Delegation was conflicting.  Did the legislation compel investigation bodies to carry out investigation in alleged cases of torture?  Who carried out inquiries, and to what extent did inquiries differ from investigations? 

According to available reports, the suicide rate in Kazakhstan was one of the highest in the world.  Question was asked on measures taken to reduce the suicide rate.  What was the suicide rate among persons in pre-trial detention and prisons, and was there any investigation of such cases? 

What was the current status on the draft bill on the Protection of Children from Information Harmful to Their Health, namely with respect to gender identity, and what provisions had been taken to ensure that stereotypes and discrimination against sexual minorities would not be encouraged by such a law?  As for violence against women and girls, it was noted that women and girls were still subjected to early and forced marriage in rural areas, and harmful practices such as the bride kidnapping.

Replies by the Delegation

The delegation explained that all international treaties ratified by Kazakhstan were applied directly.  Only those treaties that requested a national law for application were not directly applied.  In case of infringement of national laws, an act would be declared unconstitutional.  Citizens were not professionals in human rights laws, which was why the Constitution gave opportunity to judges to interpret them.

The Supreme Court had indeed made references to the Covenant.  It was true that such jurisprudence was not longstanding, but the Supreme Court had adopted monitoring facilities with respect to the content of judgments.    

Actions of the Ombudsman were in compliance with the Paris Principles.  Progress had been made, and the Government continued working on improving the mandate of the Ombudsman.  Unfortunately, the international financial crisis had prevented the Government from opening regional ombudsman offices. 

As for the defence of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intrasex persons against discrimination, the delegation stressed that any form of discrimination was prohibited by the Constitution.  The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination applied directly in Kazakhstan.  Criminal responsibility was applied for any form of discrimination.  That included the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intrasex community.  Thus, the legislative framework of Kazakhstan did provide all necessary anti-discrimination provisions.

The Government had begun developing the 2030 programme to achieve a 30-percent female representation in political life.  Gender representation would be one of the Government’s priorities. 

The Government was facing a challenge to accelerate the inclusion of children with disabilities into education.  As for barrier-free areas and relevant equipment, that issue was constantly under the oversight of relevant authorities.  There were eight resource centres in the country, with psychologists in special schools and with specially trained teaching staff.  One of the main preconditions for developing inclusive education was the establishment of a special needs board.  There was a systemic approach to training teachers for inclusive education. 

As for the wage gap between men and women and discrimination in labour, the principle of equal wages for equal work was protected by law.  The wage gap was due to the fact that women were often employed in social services and education, which were in the state sector and had lower wages.  Men occupied some dangerous professions which were not open to women and were better paid.  The gender policy developed by the Ministry of Health and Social Development would be discussed with civil society.

With respect to violence against women, the police had full authority to extend measures against perpetrators.  Since the beginning of 2016, there had been new local police forces tasked to prevent domestic violence.  The Ministry of the Interior had established a special section on domestic violence.  More than 26,000 women in 2015 had asked for help.  Positive results had been achieved in the past several years, and the number of cases of domestic violence had decreased by 50 per cent.  Social assistance was provided to victims of domestic violence with the help of civil society.  There were seven shelters, not only for victims of domestic violence.  Non-governmental organizations were also financed to provide such services. 

As for the burden of proof for rape, there was no burden for victims, the delegation emphasized.  Victims had the right to free legal and medical assistance.  Socially vulnerable citizens had access to free legal assistance in administrative, civil and criminal proceedings. 

On the rights of detainees, the Criminal Proceedings Code required that detainees be informed about their rights and on why they were held.  “State secret” was information of political, military, economic and other nature whose disclosure would harm the national interests of the country.  Regarding the access to a judge by detainees, the Government was reconsidering reducing the current period of 72 hours to 48 hours, and to 24 hours in the case of minors.  The prosecutor could not extend the period of detention; only the investigative judge could do so. 

With respect to criminal cases related to extremism, a delegate stated that there was a prohibition of extremism under the Criminal Code and under the Law on Combating Extremism.  It was rather complicated to have an absolute clarity with respect to the definition of extremism.  But in order to avoid arbitrary interpretation by the investigating authorities, various experts and specialists would give a clear understanding of the term “extremism.”  Membership in organizations without any action could not lead to any criminal charges.  There was an extremist organization that sought to overthrow the Government and set up a caliphate, and that organization was prohibited.  Nobody was prosecuted and sent to prison because of their religious denomination.  Generally, such cases were examined in open court proceedings.

On the use of torture, it was explained that there was a legislation that stipulated criminal responsibility for physical and psychological suffering, death and grave injury due to the use of torture.  The reconciliation of parties was possible only in the case of lesser crimes.  Torture was considered a serious crime with no possibility of amnesty.  Sanctions could  include 12 years in prison.  If the intention to kill was present, it was considered a murder.  Otherwise, it was considered killing by negligence.  Compensation to victims of torture was available.  If harm was caused unlawfully, then courts would provide compensation. 

With respect to the impartiality of torture investigations, a verification had been carried out into complaints made by 16 persons, but, no evidence of torture had been identified.  Several independent institutions visited detainees and no statements had been made regarding any kind of torture.  Out of 37 persons brought to court on the charges of torture, three had been acquitted. 

Replies by the Delegation

As for the crimes related to domestic violence, there was no possibility of reconciliation in grave cases.  Evidence had to be gathered by the investigator, and the victim was not responsible for that.  Lawyers could visit their clients at any time. 

In 2015, there had been 622 complaints of torture, and 26 people were found guilty;  six to eight months was the average length of torture investigations.  In 2015, seven people had been found guilty of bride kidnapping.  The maximum sentence for such offence was 15 years of imprisonment.  Kazakhstan was gradually moving towards the abolition of the death penalty, and the relevant laws were brought in compliance with the Covenant.  There was a proposal to remove the moratorium on the death penalty due to terrorism, but was later decided against it. 

As for the suicides in detention centers, the delegation explained that every time that happened, the management and supervisors were disciplined.  The number of suicides had decreased three times from 2012 to 2015.  There had been only six in 2015.

The draft bill on the Protection of Children from Information Harmful to Their Health had been found unconstitutional and there was no intention to put that draft forward.  In general, there were no suspended laws because there were no contradictions of laws with the Constitution. 

Questions by Experts

There were reports that the Kazakh authorities regularly used preventive detention, for example, for participants of planned demonstrations.  On what charges had recent protesters for land rights been held in preventive detention in Astana?  The Government justified such measures as a public service to inform citizens about the law, which was not acceptable.  How could persons subjected to administrative arrest appeal effectively when the prosecutor had all the discretionary rights?

There had been concerns that the selection of judges had not been transparent.  The Parliament could only choose among the candidates put forward by the President.  To what extent was the President involved in the selection of members of the Supreme Judicial Council?  Measures to combat corruption in the judiciary remained insufficient.  Was it true that the Prosecutor General could appeal the decision after it had entered into force, and that he could interfere into civil cases? 

An Expert said that a number of reports indicated a lot of surveillance without any kind of judicial authorization and where only the prosecutor was involved.  How could someone possible appeal against such surveillance if they were not aware of such a measure? 

As for the overcrowding in prison, it was noted that the State party had previously stated that significant reforms had led to a reduction in the prison population, such as changes in the Amnesty Law and construction of new detention facilities.  The State party also claimed that the regulation for oversight and surveillance had led to positive results.  However, the State party denied that the National Guard had carried out order operations in prisons, resulting in grave injuries of inmates.  Were all those allegations untrue?  It would appear that despite the efforts of the authorities, the situation in prisons remained of concern, namely the conditions of prisons for detention of minors.  According to the available information, the aggregate detention time for minors exceeded six months and was contrary to the Covenant.  Contact with lawyers for detainees was limited and the Ombudsman recognized that some detainees were prevented or dissuaded from having contact with their lawyers. 

Regarding conscientious objection to the military service, Kazakhstan allowed only very few very strictly defined exemptions from the military service.  Article 22 of the Constitution was restrictive and it was not in compliance with the Covenant.  Was the law on the registration of religious associations in line with the Covenant?  Only Sunni Islam, the Russian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church had the status of national religions, which could lead to discrimination. 

Political parties in Kazakhstan were subjected to the same regime as associations, namely they had to be registered.   The Law on Political Parties stipulated a requirement for a high initial membership of 40,000 founding members.  The authorization was granted by the Ministry of Justice.  Would it not be more democratic that the authorization be granted by an independent body?  Incitement to racial hatred was too broadly defined in the Criminal Code and could thus be arbitrarily used against any opposition political party.  Currently there were nine recognized political parties in the country, out of which only three were represented in the Parliament.  Given that context, could political parties have viable participation in political life in line with the Covenant?  Why was the Communist Party suspended?

Who carried out the investigations of torture allegations in detention centres?  Was it the Ministry of Internal Affairs?  In that case there could be a conflict of interest because the same institution that was accused of torture would also investigate such claims.   

Regarding the compulsory residence registration system (“propiska”), one Expert noted that there were still administrative fines for those who did not register their place of residence, leading even to administrative arrests.  Searches of apartments were carried out when registration was not done and those persons would lose their social benefits.  Did those practices occur and to what extent were they in line with the Covenant?  Was it true that those who left Kazakhstan to reside abroad needed special permits?

As for the freedom of expression, to what extent did journalists have an enabling environment to carry out their activities?  There had been reports from civil society that the situation had significantly deteriorated recently.  Blogs and Internet sites had been closed down on the grounds of incitement to hatred and national security, as well as for minor infractions.  Did the law allow judges and prosecutors to close down media for such irregularities?  The Criminal Code still had several provisions on insulting the President and state officials, namely slander.  Previous recommendations to make relevant revisions had been rejected by the Government.  The Committee had several times said that public figures, such as state officials, could be subjected to public criticism. 

Raising the issue of the right to peaceful assembly,  an Expert voiced concern about the 1995 Law on the Procedure for Organizing Peaceful Assemblies, and Kazakhstan had subsequently pledged to pass a new law.  Had a new law been adopted, and, if not, what was the current state of the new law?  The Criminal Code prohibited assistance to illegal assemblies, including communication tools.  Under that provision, a person could be prosecuted for assisting a peaceful assembly.  The authorities had used administrative detention to prevent protesters from exercising their right to peaceful assembly.  How were such measures compatible with the Covenant?

The Act on Trade Unions imposed mandatory affiliation to regional or sectorial organizations.  The right to strike was limited and the law criminalized continuous participation in strike.  It seemed that the law was focused more on limiting strikes than on protecting the right to strike. 

As for the 2015 Act on the Activities of Non-Governmental Organizations, civil society were concerned that the  establishment of a central operator could be used to tighten state control over non-governmental organizations and to limit their ability to raise funds from abroad. 

Speaking of the crime of extremism, one Expert reiterated her concern about the risks that such a provision posed for the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly.  What kind of concrete conduct constituted extremism or incitement to hatred under the Criminal Code?  She also reiterated her question on the type and length of sentences for torture and compensation.  

What was the procedure for identifying the victims of human trafficking, and how did the State party explain the decrease in cases of human trafficking  in the country?  What measures had been taken to address corruption among law enforcement forces related to trafficking?  What was the scope and plan for the shelter project? What legal protection was available to foreign trafficking victims?

As for forced child labour and slavery, what measures had been taken to improve access to legal employment for foreign workers?  How were provisions on prison labour compatible with the obligations under the Covenant?  What were disaggregated data on child labour?  The Committee understood that there were no social services afforded to the victims of forced labour.  Did the new Criminal Code contain any provisions on forced labour?  If not, what steps would be taken to define all forms of modern slavery?  What measures were taken to regulate the practices of employers vis-à-vis migrant workers?  Effectiveness of state labour inspections were limited because they could only conduct planned visits.  Did the State party consider revising those restrictions? 

On the protection of asylum seekers and refugees, was there a supervisory body that ensured that the applied procedures were in line with international standards?  What training did relevant officials receive in order to be able to decide on cases?  Reports had been received of the forcible return of asylum seekers before their asylum requests had been completed, as well as of return of Ukrainian, Uzbek and Chinese asylum seekers. 

Replies by the Delegation

As for the use of preventive detention with respect to rallies, the delegation explained that their purpose was to prevent administrative violations.  There were safety concerns regarding the use of grenades, pistols and other weapons.  All necessary procedures were respected.  The prosecutor did not have the power to decide whether the case would go to the court or not.  The prosecutor could decide to end the proceedings, but those powers were used only in special circumstances.  Some administrative arrests had been made, but had later been overturned.  The Procurator General could exceptionally take part in civil proceedings, such as in the cases that concerned the rights of minors and persons with disabilities, which made up a small portion of cases.

With respect to the selection of judges, the delegation explained that the process was open, which meant that any competent candidate could participate.  After a vote by judges, those candidacies were put forward to the Supreme Judicial Council.  The President brought those proposals to the Parliament.  In the amended Law on the Status of Judges, grounds for disciplinary actions against judges had been changed.  Presidents of courts did not have the right to bring disciplinary actions against judges.  Judges could be held liable for the violation of legality of cases, and gross violations of court discipline. 

In the past years reforms had brought about a reduction of 30 per cent in the prison population.  Variety of food had improved, as well as the size of living space.  Reintegration of inmates started on the first day of detention through work with educators and psychologists.  That work continued after the release in cooperation with the Probation Services.  As for the participation of the National Guard in the security measures carried out in detention centers, the law stipulated that it could provide guarding and other security services.  A judicial review had not not found any violations by the National Guard. 

Minors in detention received special conditions.  The legislation provided that they could not be kept in detention for more than six months.  There were no cases that exceeded that period.  As for prison labour, only 55 per cent of employment was provided to prisoners.  It was not true that they were forced to work because they needed work to support their families.  Investigations in detention centers were carried out by the Detention Unit.  Allegations of torture were passed on to the prosecutor.

On the registration of religious associations, the delegation stated that the registration standards were in full compliance with the Constitution and the Covenant. Discrimination against religious confessions did not exist. 

It was impossible to provide for absolute clarity on the definition of the crime of extremism, which was why various experts had to participate in assessing whether a given crime was one of extremism.

Registration of political parties was carried out under the general functions of the Ministry of Justice.  Certain verifications were carried out, such as lists, as well as expert assessments.  That was more a procedural issue than the issue of the type of activity carried out by the association in question.  The requirement of 40,000 members for a political party to be registered was in fact reduced from the previous requirement of 50,000 members.  The activity of the Communist Party had been suspended because of the diminishing number of members.  The parties represented in the Parliament reflected people’s vote. 

Freedom of expression was essential for the development of State institutions and an effective State.  Over 4,000 foreign printed media existed in the country.  The law did provide for the suspension of media.  Only the regulator could control media, whereas local authorities no longer had that power.  In the past two years there had been some 300 complaints of slander, and an insignificant number of persons had been convicted of slander.  A large number of Internet items had been removed because they were of pornographic or terrorist nature.  The right to use of pseudonyms was permitted not only to journalists, but also to private Internet users.  Due to the terrorist threat, it was deemed that some media outlets had to be temporarily closed down.  

As for the use of unauthorized surveillance, a delegate said that there could be no direct access to personal data and accounts without a court order.  Criminal prosecutions of extremism were carried out upon experts’ assessments, which concluded that certain expressions used indicated potential extremism and incitement to hatred. 

Regarding the residence registration system (“propiska”), it was explained that people living without a registration for three months committed an administrative offence, as well as those who rented them an apartment or a house. 

In 2014, a new Law on Trade Unions had been adopted, stipulating mandatory affiliation in order to strengthen trade unions.  Trade unions were not compelled to be members of any specific trade union federation.  There was no monopoly held by trade unions.  Some 400 trade unions had been registered under the new law.  The Government agreed to have a direct contact of the International Labour Organization in the country in order to receive technical assistance and to improve the Law on Trade Unions. 

In compliance with the Labour Code, before a strike was declared, it was essential that the demands of workers were looked into by the employer within three days.  If no solution was found, the matter would first go to conciliation and then to labour arbitration.  Only when those measures had been exhausted, the strike could take place.  An assessment of the Labour Code with respect to the right to strike was currently under way. 

In most of the regions new rules had been adopted, according to which violations of procedural requirements could not constitute a ground for the restriction of demonstrations and rallies.  The conduct of police in mass protests was monitored in cooperation with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

With respect to human trafficking, the State policy was based on four principles: prevention, assistance and protection to victims, prosecution, and partnership.  In Kazakhstan, human trafficking was not a wide spread phenomenon.  A special analytical report on problems of preventing human trafficking was drawn.  According to the Criminal Code, a prison sentence of 15 years was handed down for human trafficking.  There was a single standard developed to provide social services to victims of trafficking.  The victims could be foreigners, migrant workers and Kazakh citizens, and they all received the same social services.      

The new Act on the Activities of Non-Governmental Organizations introduced new forms of financing for civil society organizations through grants and premiums.  The new mechanism, in fact, allowed distancing from State funding.

Military service in Kazakhstan was contractual, and the Armed Forces were primary filled by professional soldiers. 

The extension of status of refugees, the commission were made up of interested State bodies and observers, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.  Given the geographic situation, there was no heavy flow of refugees. 

In southern Kazakhstan, which was a cotton growing region, there was a problem of child labour.  In 2011, the Government had decided to address the issue in the Almaty  tobacco producing region.  The Government was now proceeding in a similar way in the southern region.  The Labour Code provisions were identical for both Kazakh and foreign workers.  In the first half of 2016, 170 verifications of businesses that employed migrants workers had been carried out.

Follow-up Questions by Experts

One Expert raised the question of the 2015 amendment to the Law on Communication, which stipulated that the national security certificate be installed on all Internet devices.  Was that true?

Another Expert asked whether it was true that persons who wanted to change their gender had to undergo mandatory 30 days of psychiatric evaluation and sterilization.

Replies by the Delegation

A delegate responded that the legislation did not provide that Internet operators and users had to use the national security certificate.  The certificate could be used only to limit access to unlawful information. 

Concluding Remarks

ELVIRA AZIMOVA, Vice Minister of Justice of Kazakhstan, thanked the Committee for the constructive approach and questions, which demonstrated concern for the protection and promotion of human rights in all countries.  Kazakhstan was attentive to the raised issues and the Government was determined to hold constructive dialogue with foreign partners and international organizations, and to make progress.  The Government also sought to foster public dialogue on human rights in the country, and to implement benchmarks on the implementation of Committee recommendations. 

FABIAN OMAR SALVIOLI, Committee Chairperson, commended the dialogue that the Delegation had held with the Committee.  He noted that follow-ups on the issues of religious freedom, non-discrimination, detention, the national human rights institution, prevention of torture and adequate compensation, freedom of expression and political participation would be important, as they would guide the Government’s policies. 

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