Human rights situation in Kazakhstan

European Parliament res­o­lu­tion of 11 February 2021 on the human rights sit­u­a­tion in Kazakhstan

–  hav­ing regard to its res­o­lu­tion of 14 March 2019 on the human rights sit­u­a­tion in Kazakhstan(1) and its pre­vi­ous res­o­lu­tions on Kazakhstan, includ­ing those of 18 April 2013(2), 15 March 2012(3) and 17 September 2009(4),

–  hav­ing regard to the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Kazakhstan, of the oth­er part, which was signed in Astana on 21 December 2015 and which entered into full force on 1 March 2020 fol­low­ing its rat­i­fi­ca­tion by all Member States,

–  hav­ing regard to the Council con­clu­sions of 17 June 2019 on the new EU strat­e­gy on Central Asia,

–  hav­ing regard to the Kazakhstan coun­try report con­tained in the EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World 2019,

–  hav­ing regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the UN Convention against Torture,

–  hav­ing regard to the 17th meet­ing of the EU-Kazakhstan Cooperation Council of 20 January 2020, to the 12th EU-Kazakhstan Human Rights Dialogue meet­ing held on 26 and 27 November 2020, and to the 18th meet­ing of the EU-Kazakhstan Cooperation Committee of 25 September 2020,

–  hav­ing regard to the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review of Kazakhstan of 12 March 2020,

–  hav­ing regard to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,

–  hav­ing regard to the state­ments by the spokesper­son of the European External Action Service (EEAS) of 1 February 2021 on the increas­ing pres­sure on human rights NGOs in Kazakhstan, of 11 January 2021 on the par­lia­men­tary elec­tions in Kazakhstan, and of 7 January 2021 on steps to abol­ish the death penalty,

–  hav­ing regard to the state­ment of the Organization for Security and Co-oper­a­tion in Europe (OSCE) on its pre­lim­i­nary find­ings and con­clu­sions with regard to the elec­tions in Kazakhstan of 10 January 2021,

–  hav­ing regard to Rule 144(5) and 132(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A.  where­as a wor­ry­ing dete­ri­o­ra­tion in the gen­er­al sit­u­a­tion of human rights and a crack­down on civ­il soci­ety organ­i­sa­tions in Kazakhstan has been not­ed in the past weeks, with harsh restric­tions imposed on the rights to free­dom of expres­sion, peace­ful assem­bly and asso­ci­a­tion; where­as civ­il soci­ety and human rights organ­i­sa­tions work­ing in Kazakhstan have been sub­ject­ed to increas­ing pres­sure and penal­i­sa­tion by the country’s author­i­ties, which hin­der reform efforts and lim­it the essen­tial work of civ­il society;

B.  where­as on 21 December 2015 the European Union and Kazakhstan signed an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) aimed at pro­vid­ing a broad frame­work for rein­forced polit­i­cal dia­logue and coop­er­a­tion in jus­tice, home affairs and many oth­er areas; where­as this agree­ment puts a strong empha­sis on democ­ra­cy, the rule of law, human rights, fun­da­men­tal free­doms, sus­tain­able devel­op­ment and civ­il soci­ety coop­er­a­tion; where­as the EPCA entered into full force on 1 March 2020 fol­low­ing its rat­i­fi­ca­tion by all Member States;

C.  where­as the new EU strat­e­gy on Central Asia puts a strong empha­sis on the EU’s engage­ment with Central Asia in the pro­tec­tion and pro­mo­tion of the rule of law, human rights and fun­da­men­tal free­doms, includ­ing free­dom of asso­ci­a­tion and expres­sion, and the cre­ation of an enabling envi­ron­ment for civ­il soci­ety and human rights defend­ers; where­as the European Union pro­vides sub­stan­tial COVID-19 relief to Kazakhstan, includ­ing most recent­ly through its finan­cial sup­port to a World Health Organization (WHO) ship­ment of over 8 000 kg of med­ical sup­plies on 29 January 2021;

D.  where­as Kazakhstan’s par­lia­men­tary elec­tions of 10 January 2021 have been described by the EEAS as a missed oppor­tu­ni­ty to demon­strate the effi­cient imple­men­ta­tion of polit­i­cal reforms and its mod­erni­sa­tion process since the last elec­tions, while long-stand­ing rec­om­men­da­tions from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) on sev­er­al issues remain unad­dressed, includ­ing those relat­ed to fun­da­men­tal free­doms, the impar­tial­i­ty of elec­tion admin­is­tra­tion, eli­gi­bil­i­ty to vote and stand for elec­tions, vot­er reg­is­tra­tion, the media and the pub­li­ca­tion of elec­tion results; where­as accord­ing to the pre­lim­i­nary find­ings of the OSCE/ODIHR and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, the legal frame­work in Kazakhstan is not yet con­ducive to hold­ing elec­tions in line with inter­na­tion­al standards;

E.  where­as sys­temic short­com­ings in rela­tion to respect for free­dom of asso­ci­a­tion, assem­bly and expres­sion con­tin­ue to restrict the polit­i­cal land­scape, and the lack of gen­uine polit­i­cal com­pe­ti­tion and polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion groups, with no new par­ties reg­is­tered since 2013, have left vot­ers with no gen­uine choice; where­as demo­c­ra­t­ic elec­tions are a cor­ner­stone of achiev­ing polit­i­cal reforms and build­ing a free and open society;

F.  where­as two oppo­si­tion move­ments, the Koshe Partiyasy and the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan, were banned by secret court deci­sions labelling them as ‘extrem­ist’ organ­i­sa­tions with no right to appeal; where­as 17 lead­ers of the Koshe Partiyasy have been sent to pre-tri­al deten­tion facil­i­ties under Article 405 and Article 182 of Kazakhstan’s Criminal Code and risk long prison terms; where­as pris­on­ers charged for sup­port­ing the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan are still serv­ing their prison sen­tences; where­as 26 polit­i­cal pris­on­ers, includ­ing Almat Zhumagulov, Aset Abishev, Kenzhebek Abishev, Askhat Zheksebayev, Kairat Klyshev, Yerbol Yeskhozin, Abai Begimbetov, Asel Onlabekkyzy, Yerkin Sabanshiyev, Zhanat Zhamaliyev, Diana Baimagambetova, Noyan Rakhimzhanov and Askar Kayyrbek, have fall­en vic­tim to polit­i­cal pros­e­cu­tion in con­nec­tion with their sup­port for these movements;

G.  where­as the unreg­is­tered oppo­si­tion Democratic Party was not allowed to par­tic­i­pate in these elec­tions, as on 22 February 2020 the author­i­ties pre­vent­ed the par­ty from hold­ing its found­ing con­gress in Almaty; where­as with­out hold­ing such a con­gress it is impos­si­ble for a par­ty to reg­is­ter; where­as mem­bers of the Democratic Party faced pres­sure from the author­i­ties, as some were arrest­ed for alleged admin­is­tra­tive vio­la­tions and oth­ers were pre­vent­ed from trav­el­ling to the con­gress venue;

H.  where­as dur­ing the elec­tion cam­paign and on elec­tion day, the Kazakh author­i­ties attempt­ed to tight­en inter­net cen­sor­ship con­trol, repeat­ed­ly shut­ting down the inter­net and forc­ing cit­i­zens to install a ‘nation­al secu­ri­ty cer­tifi­cate’ allow­ing for the inter­cep­tion of encrypt­ed web traf­fic; where­as the state’s con­trol over the inter­net is increas­ing, includ­ing attempts to restrict the flow of infor­ma­tion through inter­net cen­sor­ship and con­trol and inter­net shut­downs, and by con­tin­u­ing to demand that cit­i­zens install a ‘nation­al secu­ri­ty cer­tifi­cate’ which allows for the inter­cep­tion of inter­net users’ online traffic;

I.  where­as dur­ing the cam­paign peri­od mass arrests were car­ried out; where­as on elec­tion day the author­i­ties ille­gal­ly detained at least 350 peace­ful pro­test­ers in 10 dif­fer­ent cities; where­as the Kazakh author­i­ties rou­tine­ly pre­vent peace­ful protests crit­i­cal of gov­ern­ment poli­cies from tak­ing place; where­as the law on peace­ful assem­bly and the amend­ments to the laws on polit­i­cal par­ties and elec­tions adopt­ed in May 2020 fail to respect the fun­da­men­tal rights of the cit­i­zens of Kazakhstan;

J.  where­as the ODIHR lim­it­ed elec­tion obser­va­tion mis­sion (LEOM) report­ed that the work of inde­pen­dent observers was bur­dened and imped­ed by the author­i­ties, while pro-gov­ern­ment observers were allowed to mon­i­tor the elec­toral process; where­as human rights NGOs report­ed that a con­sid­er­able num­ber of inde­pen­dent observers to the leg­isla­tive elec­tions of 10 January 2021 were sub­ject­ed to intim­i­da­tion, admin­is­tra­tive arrests and fines;

K.  where­as the media land­scape in Kazakhstan is dom­i­nat­ed by state-owned or state-sub­sidised media chan­nels; where­as between January and July 2020, sev­en jour­nal­ists were phys­i­cal­ly attacked and 21 jour­nal­ists, blog­gers and activists were detained, sev­en of whom while report­ing; where­as author­i­ties in 2020 brought more than 38 crim­i­nal cas­es against jour­nal­ists for alleged crimes such as spread­ing false infor­ma­tion and incite­ment; where­as the main nation­al oppo­si­tion news­pa­pers were all banned in 2016 and inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ists con­tin­ue to face harass­ment; where­as the author­i­ties brought crim­i­nal charges against the edi­tor-in-chief of the inde­pen­dent news­pa­per Uralskaya Nedelya, Lukpan Akhmedyarov, for his report­ing of the cor­rupt deal­ings of the local elite, and phys­i­cal­ly assault­ed and detained Saniya Toiken, a jour­nal­ist for RFE/RL’s Kazakh Service, numer­ous times for her cov­er­age of peace­ful ral­lies and the 2021 par­lia­men­tary elections;

L.  where­as from February to November 2020, five oppo­si­tion activists were killed or died in unclear cir­cum­stances after con­tin­u­ous polit­i­cal per­se­cu­tion for their oppo­si­tion activ­i­ties, name­ly blog­ger and tor­ture vic­tim Dulat Agadil, his 17-year old son Zhanbolat Agadil, who was a key wit­ness of his father’s arbi­trary arrest, Amanbike Khairolla, Serik Orazov and Garifulla Embergenov; where­as the author­i­ties have failed to car­ry out thor­ough, trans­par­ent inves­ti­ga­tions into their deaths; where­as it is of the utmost impor­tance to bring those respon­si­ble for order­ing and car­ry­ing out such crimes to jus­tice and to ensure that they refrain from per­se­cut­ing civ­il soci­ety activists and fam­i­ly mem­bers seek­ing the truth for vic­tims; where­as the Kazakh author­i­ties cracked down on at least 200 activists who par­tic­i­pat­ed in the memo­r­i­al cer­e­mo­ny for Dulat Agadil or organ­ised fundrais­ing activ­i­ties for his and oth­er polit­i­cal pris­on­ers’ fam­i­lies; where­as 57 of them have been charged with ‘extrem­ism’, includ­ing Dametkan Aspandiyarova, a moth­er of three chil­dren, who is cur­rent­ly under house arrest and faces up to 12 years in prison under extrem­ism charges for organ­is­ing a fundrais­ing activ­i­ty in sup­port of Dulat Agadil’s family;

M.  where­as in Kazakhstan’s pris­ons the use of tor­ture and ill treat­ment has been preva­lent, with at least 200 cas­es of inci­dents of tor­ture being report­ed every year by the Coalition Against Torture; where­as per­pe­tra­tors of such abus­es have enjoyed impuni­ty while human rights defend­er Elena Semenova has been sued by prison colonies for expos­ing the use of tor­ture in the Kazakh pen­i­ten­tiary sys­tem on social media;

N.  where­as despite appeals from the UN Special Rapporteur(5), from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and from the European Union, the Kazakh author­i­ties abuse vague and over­ly broad extrem­ism laws to per­se­cute the oppo­si­tion and human rights defend­ers; where­as fol­low­ing this law, since 22 October 2020, the day on which the author­i­ties announced the date of the elec­tions, the num­ber of polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed crim­i­nal cas­es has dou­bled, ris­ing to 99, specif­i­cal­ly on the basis of ‘extrem­ism’ charges; where­as 69 of those con­cerned are in dan­ger of immi­nent arrest, such as the activist Gulzipa Dzhaukerova, and 11 activists were put under house arrest on trumped-up ‘extrem­ism’ charges;

O.  where­as sev­er­al inde­pen­dent human rights NGOs, includ­ing ECHO, Erkindik Kanaty, the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, and International Legal Initiative, have recent­ly been heav­i­ly fined and ordered to sus­pend their work for up to three months as of 25 January 2020, on unclear legal grounds; where­as, in retal­i­a­tion for per­form­ing watch­dog activ­i­ties, the author­i­ties harass and even crim­i­nal­ly pros­e­cute human rights defend­ers, includ­ing Sholpan Dzhanzakova, Anna Shukeyeva, Raigul Sadyrbayeva, Aizhan Izmakova, Daniyar Khassenov, Altynai Tuksikova, Dana Zhanay, Nazym Serikpekova, Alma Nurusheva, Abaibek Sultanov, Zukhra Nariman, Ulbolsyn Turdiyeva, Aliya Zhakupova, Roza Musayeva and Barlyk Mendygaziyev; where­as between October and November 2020 at least 15 organ­i­sa­tions were noti­fied that they had vio­lat­ed Article 460–1 of the Code of Administrative Offences for alleged­ly fail­ing to prop­er­ly inform the author­i­ties about for­eign fund­ing received;

P.  where­as in 2020, 112 indi­vid­u­als, three char­i­ties and one com­mer­cial com­pa­ny were con­vict­ed for exer­cis­ing their free­dom of reli­gion or belief;

Q.  where­as wide­spread cor­rup­tion among the rul­ing elite pre­vails in Kazakhstan, as evi­denced by the fact that the coun­try ranks 94th on Transparency International’s 2020 Corruption Perceptions Index, and impedes human rights, social jus­tice and socio-eco­nom­ic development;

R.  where­as in the midst of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic, the gov­ern­ment mis­used its pan­dem­ic restric­tions as a pre­text for inten­si­fy­ing the polit­i­cal repres­sion of civ­il soci­ety, human rights activists, oppo­si­tion voic­es and med­ical work­ers who denounced the government’s fail­ures to con­tain the outbreak;

S.  where­as on 21 January 2021 two eth­nic Kazakhs Murager Alimuly and Kaisha Akankyzy, who fled China fear­ing impris­on­ment in con­cen­tra­tion camps, were sub­se­quent­ly beat­en and stabbed by unknown assailants, and suf­fi­cient atten­tion must there­fore be paid to con­tin­u­ous eth­nic ten­sions in Kazakhstan’s south­ern regions; where­as vio­lent eth­nic clash­es in Kazakhstan con­tin­ue, par­tic­u­lar­ly in the south, where in February 2020 clash­es between Kazakhs and eth­nic Dungans left 11 peo­ple dead, dozens wound­ed and more than 23 000 peo­ple, most­ly Dungans, forced from their homes;

T.  where­as the Kazakh author­i­ties have abused inter­na­tion­al crim­i­nal coop­er­a­tion mech­a­nisms, includ­ing Interpol Red Notices and Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA), to pros­e­cute and seize the doc­u­ments of a polit­i­cal refugee in Belgium, the lawyer and human rights defend­er Bota Jardemalie; where­as on 29 September 2020 the National French National Court of Asylum grant­ed polit­i­cal asy­lum to the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan founder, Mukhtar Ablyazov, who was sen­tenced by a Kazakh court to life impris­on­ment in absen­tia in vio­la­tion of the right to defence, not­ing the sys­temic and polit­i­cal nature of Kazakhstan’s repres­sive appa­ra­tus and its mis­use of civ­il and crim­i­nal proceedings;

U.  where­as the Kazakh author­i­ties con­tin­ue to tar­get inde­pen­dent trade unions and trade union activists; where­as in 2020 the Trade Union Law was amend­ed, remov­ing trade union affil­i­a­tion and two-step reg­is­tra­tion require­ments; where­as despite that amend­ment, the Shymkent city admin­is­tra­tion dropped its law­suit against the Industrial Trade Union of Fuel and Energy Workers (ITUFEW) on the basis of unsub­stan­ti­at­ed claims or pro­vi­sions that no longer exist or do not apply to ITUFEW;

V.  where­as gen­der equal­i­ty remains a prob­lem in Kazakhstan; where­as NGOs state that vio­lence against women is under-report­ed and that there is a low rate of pros­e­cu­tion in these cas­es, as well as in sex­u­al harass­ment cas­es; where­as COVID-19 has cre­at­ed a new obsta­cle for girls to equal access to infor­ma­tion and edu­ca­tion, accord­ing to the UN; where­as vic­tims lack suf­fi­cient pro­tec­tion, and judi­cial and police offi­cers and ser­vice providers are not trained to iden­ti­fy, pre­vent and respond to vio­lence against women;

W.  where­as LGBTI per­sons in Kazakhstan still face legal chal­lenges and dis­crim­i­na­tion; where­as the Kazakh Parliament adopt­ed dis­crim­i­na­to­ry amend­ments to the new health code in June 2020 that reg­u­late aspects of health­care for trans­gen­der peo­ple; where­as the process for chang­ing one’s gen­der iden­ti­ty in Kazakhstan remains inva­sive and humiliating;

1.  Urges the Government of Kazakhstan to act in accor­dance with its inter­na­tion­al oblig­a­tions and to respect human rights and fun­da­men­tal free­doms as enshrined in Articles 1, 4, 5 and 235 of the EPCA; calls on the author­i­ties of Kazakhstan to com­ply with inter­na­tion­al stan­dards in respect­ing the legal frame­work for hold­ing elec­tions and to address the rec­om­men­da­tions of the ODIHR LEOM, includ­ing those con­cern­ing con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly guar­an­teed fun­da­men­tal free­doms, civ­il soci­ety par­tic­i­pa­tion, polit­i­cal plu­ral­ism, the impar­tial­i­ty of elec­tion admin­is­tra­tion, eli­gi­bil­i­ty to vote and stand for elec­tions, vot­er reg­is­tra­tion, the media and pub­li­ca­tion of elec­tion results;

2.  Calls on the Government of Kazakhstan to drop polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed charges and end all forms of arbi­trary deten­tion, reprisals and harass­ment against human rights activists, reli­gious organ­i­sa­tions, civ­il soci­ety organ­i­sa­tions, trade unions, jour­nal­ists and polit­i­cal oppo­si­tion move­ments, and to allow peo­ple to freely express their polit­i­cal, reli­gious and oth­er views; calls on the gov­ern­ment to amend the new law on peace­ful assem­bly so that this free­dom is guaranteed;

3.  Urges the Government of Kazakhstan to imme­di­ate­ly release and ful­ly reha­bil­i­tate all polit­i­cal pris­on­ers, in par­tic­u­lar Almat Zhumagulov, Aron Atabek, Nurgul Kaluova, Saltanat Kusmankyzy, Daryn Khassenov, Ulasbek Akhmetov, Kenzhebek Abishev, Yerzhan Yelshibayev, Aset Abishev, Igor Chuprina, Ruslan Ginatullin, Askhat Zheksebayev, Kairat Klyshev, Yerbol Yeskhozin, Abai Begimbetov, Asel Onlabekkyzy, Yerkin Sabanshiyev, Zhanat Zhamaliyev, Diana Baimagambetova, Noyan Rakhimzhanov and Askar Kayyrbek, and to lift with­out delay the mea­sures of pre-tri­al deten­tion and house arrest and the restric­tions of lib­er­ty imposed on civ­il soci­ety and oppo­si­tion activists, social media users and peace­ful pro­test­ers; calls on the Government of Kazakhstan to revise the cas­es of and pro­vide com­pen­sa­tion to for­mer polit­i­cal pris­on­ers and vic­tims of tor­ture Iskander Yerimbetov, Maks Bokayev and Mukhtar Dzhakishev, in accor­dance with the rec­om­men­da­tions of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the UN Human Rights Committee;

4.  Welcomes the steps tak­en by the Government of Kazakhstan to close the polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed cas­es against human rights defend­ers Daniyar Khassenov and Abaibek Sultanov, but is con­cerned about the fab­ri­ca­tion of a new crim­i­nal case on grounds of ‘extrem­ism’ against the lat­ter; calls on the Government of Kazakhstan to lift all polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed charges against phil­an­thropist Barlyk Mendygaziyev and to put an end to the polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed per­se­cu­tion of his fam­i­ly mem­bers and for­mer associates;

5.  Condemns the abuse of anti-extrem­ism leg­is­la­tion against sup­port­ers of the peace­ful oppo­si­tion move­ments the Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan (DCK)and the Koshe Partiyasy, and urges the author­i­ties to per­mit polit­i­cal plu­ral­ism and com­pe­ti­tion; urges the Government of Kazakhstan to imple­ment the rec­om­men­da­tions of the European Parliament, the UN Special Rapporteur on the pro­mo­tion and pro­tec­tion of human rights and fun­da­men­tal free­doms while coun­ter­ing ter­ror­ism, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe con­demn­ing the arbi­trary appli­ca­tion of anti-extrem­ism laws;

6.  Calls on Kazakhstan to imple­ment reforms aim at fur­ther­ing the country’s mod­erni­sa­tion, democ­ra­cy and sta­bil­i­ty, to strength­en efforts to reform the polit­i­cal sys­tem of Kazakhstan so as to devel­op par­lia­men­tarism and a mul­ti-par­ty sys­tem, and to expand civic par­tic­i­pa­tion; notes the estab­lish­ment of a Supreme Council for Reforms and takes note of the announce­ment by the Kazakh author­i­ties of a new stage of reforms, in par­tic­u­lar on the issues of law enforce­ment, the judi­cial sys­tem and pri­ori­tis­ing human rights; stress­es the impor­tance of con­tin­u­ing with this process, includ­ing changes in the elec­toral law and the full imple­men­ta­tion of the OSCE/ODIHR recommendations;

7.  Calls on the Kazakh author­i­ties to stop using the crim­i­nal code against activists, blog­gers, jour­nal­ists and oth­ers for exer­cis­ing their right to free­dom of expression;

8.  Welcomes the Kazakh author­i­ties’ deci­sion to can­cel fines and allow NGOs to con­tin­ue activ­i­ties, as announced on 3 February 2021; calls for the three-year ban from activism against Max Bokayev to be lift­ed and for him to be allowed to con­tin­ue his essen­tial work; calls on Kazakhstan’s author­i­ties to cease mis­us­ing finan­cial report­ing schemes to put pres­sure on human rights groups, to drop the unfound­ed charges of admin­is­tra­tive offences against the groups tar­get­ed for alleged report­ing vio­la­tions, to bring leg­is­la­tion and prac­tices on report­ing for­eign income into line with inter­na­tion­al stan­dards, includ­ing by repeal­ing Articles 460–1 and 460–2 of the Code on Administrative Offences, and to pro­tect and facil­i­tate the impor­tant work of civ­il soci­ety instead;

9.  Reaffirms its strong belief that per­se­cut­ing inde­pen­dent NGOs through unjus­ti­fied tax inspec­tions and that harass­ing human rights defend­ers and move­ments such as Bostandyq Kz, Femina Virtute, Veritas, 405 and Elimay, and civ­il soci­ety activists, by means of admin­is­tra­tive arrests, fines and crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tions not only obstruct reform efforts already made by the author­i­ties, but are also detri­men­tal to the inter­na­tion­al rep­u­ta­tion of Kazakhstan;

10.  Deplores the wor­ry­ing state of media free­dom in the coun­try and calls on the Government of Kazakhstan to pro­vide a free and safe envi­ron­ment for inde­pen­dent journalists;

11.  Urges the Government of Kazakhstan to allow inde­pen­dent trade unions to reg­is­ter and oper­ate in line with inter­na­tion­al labour stan­dards rat­i­fied by Kazakhstan, with­out any inter­fer­ence or harass­ment; deeply regrets the six-month sus­pen­sion of 5 February 2021 of the oper­a­tions of the Industrial Trade Union of Fuel and Energy Workers (ITUFEW) by the Specialised Interdistrict Economic Court in Shymkent for alleged­ly fail­ing to reg­is­ter in accor­dance with the Trade Union Law; encour­ages the Government of Kazakhstan to mean­ing­ful­ly imple­ment the Trade Union Law as amend­ed in May 2020;

12.  Notes with con­cern the new draft law on char­i­ties that impos­es addi­tion­al reg­u­la­tion mea­sures on civ­il soci­ety organ­i­sa­tions and direct­ly con­tra­dicts the log­ic and best prac­tices of char­i­ty work, as well as the recent ini­tia­tive to cre­ate a Donor Organisations’ Association under the aegis of the gov­ern­ment, which risks being mis­used to con­trol donor organ­i­sa­tions, fur­ther cur­tail­ing their inde­pen­dence and own­er­ship of activities;

13.  Notes that since 2008, when Kazakhstan rat­i­fied the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, Kazakhstan has sig­nif­i­cant­ly improved its nation­al leg­is­la­tion on the pros­e­cu­tion of traf­fick­ing in per­sons and on the pro­tec­tion of traf­fick­ing vic­tims; affirms, how­ev­er, that there are still a num­ber of chal­lenges to be addressed by Kazakhstan if it is to elim­i­nate traf­fick­ing in per­sons, both in terms of sup­port to vic­tims and pros­e­cu­tion of exploiters;

14.  Calls on the author­i­ties to com­bat all forms of vio­lence against women, includ­ing by ensur­ing effec­tive and acces­si­ble report­ing chan­nels and pro­tec­tion mea­sures that are sen­si­tive to vic­tims’ needs and con­fi­den­tial­i­ty; urges an end to impuni­ty and action to ensure appro­pri­ate crim­i­nal sanc­tions against per­pe­tra­tors, includ­ing in cas­es of domes­tic vio­lence; urges the Kazakh author­i­ties to crim­i­nalise domes­tic vio­lence as a stand-alone offence, and to ensure crim­i­nal sanc­tions against per­pe­tra­tors; calls on the Kazakh author­i­ties to deem shel­ters and ser­vices for sur­vivors of domes­tic vio­lence ‘essen­tial ser­vices’ and to facil­i­tate access to them for all women and girls, includ­ing dur­ing the coro­n­avirus cri­sis; urges Kazakhstan to sign and rat­i­fy the Istanbul Convention;

15.  Insists that the rights of the LGBTI com­mu­ni­ty must be ful­ly respect­ed; calls on the Government of Kazakhstan to guar­an­tee the prin­ci­ple of anti-dis­crim­i­na­tion against the LGBTI com­mu­ni­ty, includ­ing by pro­hibit­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion on the basis of gen­der iden­ti­ty or sex­u­al ori­en­ta­tion by law; calls for prop­er train­ing for judi­cial and police offi­cers, as well as ser­vice providers, to ensure that LGBTI peo­ple are giv­en appro­pri­ate care and protection;

16.  Urges the Government of Kazakhstan to ensure the safe­ty of eth­nic Kazakhs and oth­er minor­i­ty groups who have fled China’s con­cen­tra­tion camps, includ­ing by grant­i­ng per­ma­nent refugee sta­tus to Murager Alimuly and Kaisha Akankyzy, and to pay suf­fi­cient atten­tion to con­tin­u­ous eth­nic ten­sions in its south­ern regions;

17.  Advises the Kazakh author­i­ties against the abu­sive mis­use of judi­cial coop­er­a­tion mech­a­nisms such as Interpol’s Red Notice sys­tem and MLA requests with a view to per­se­cut­ing oppo­nents of the regime abroad and gain­ing access to con­fi­den­tial information;

18.  Welcomes Kazakhstan’s abo­li­tion of the death penal­ty for all crimes in its rat­i­fi­ca­tion of 2 January 2021 of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, there­by becom­ing the 88th par­ty to the agree­ment; urges the Government of Kazakhstan to com­ply with its pledges of zero tol­er­ance for tor­ture and to ensure that any alle­ga­tions of tor­ture are ful­ly inves­ti­gat­ed and those respon­si­ble brought to justice;

19.  Urges the Government of Kazakhstan to erad­i­cate tor­ture and ill treat­ment in pris­ons, respect pris­on­ers’ rights, and ensure prop­er liv­ing con­di­tions, hygiene and a safe envi­ron­ment in terms of address­ing the threats posed by COVID-19;

20.  Calls on Kazakhstan to intro­duce prop­er safe­guards for per­son­al data and strength­en data pro­tec­tion leg­is­la­tion, as well as to lim­it the use of inva­sive dig­i­tal sur­veil­lance tech­nolo­gies and intro­duce a reg­u­la­to­ry frame­work that clear­ly pro­hibits arbi­trary and unlaw­ful dig­i­tal sur­veil­lance, includ­ing face recog­ni­tion, in com­pli­ance with human rights;

21.  Calls for the EU and its Member States, includ­ing at sum­mits and oth­er high-lev­el meet­ings, in mul­ti­lat­er­al forums and through local rep­re­sen­ta­tions, to robust­ly sup­port civ­il soci­ety, to take addi­tion­al mea­sures to pro­vide sup­port to Kazakh civ­il soci­ety through the Commission, includ­ing but not lim­it­ed to expand­ing finan­cial grant schemes to civ­il soci­ety organ­i­sa­tions that pro­mote human rights, demo­c­ra­t­ic val­ues, the rule of law, and fun­da­men­tal free­doms in Kazakhstan, espe­cial­ly human rights defend­ers, and to strength­en peo­ple-to-peo­ple con­tacts with the cit­i­zens of Kazakhstan; stress­es that finan­cial assis­tance to Kazakhstan should be aimed at sup­port­ing civ­il soci­ety and vic­tims of polit­i­cal per­se­cu­tion, not at sup­port­ing the author­i­tar­i­an regime;

22.  Encourages the EU Delegation to Kazakhstan to advance its engage­ment with local mem­bers of civ­il soci­ety by organ­is­ing reg­u­lar meet­ings and rais­ing their rec­om­men­da­tions dur­ing offi­cial meet­ings with Kazakh gov­ern­ment officials;

23.  Urges the EU Delegation to Kazakhstan to mon­i­tor ongo­ing human rights abus­es and take a pub­lic stance towards the vio­la­tions, to pro­vide assis­tance to vic­tims of polit­i­cal pros­e­cu­tion and impris­oned activists by attend­ing the tri­als of gov­ern­ment crit­ics and human rights defend­ers and request­ing prison vis­its, and to react swift­ly and res­olute­ly to any act that goes against the prin­ci­ples of the rule of law, democ­ra­cy and human rights;

24.  Recalls the recent­ly approved EU Global Human Rights Sanctions Regime – which enables the EU to tar­get per­pe­tra­tors of seri­ous human rights abus­es world­wide – which, in the case of Kazakhstan, would allow for the tar­get­ing of indi­vid­u­als, enti­ties and bod­ies involved in or asso­ci­at­ed with wide­spread and sys­tem­at­ic human rights vio­la­tions; calls on the Vice-President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (VP/HR) and the Member States to con­sid­er impos­ing tar­get­ed sanc­tions on indi­vid­u­als respon­si­ble for vio­la­tions of human rights;

25.  Demands that human rights be at the top of the EU’s engage­ment with Central Asia; under­lines that deep­er polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic rela­tions with the EU, as envis­aged by the EPCA, must be based on shared val­ues and cor­re­spond to active and con­crete engage­ment by Kazakhstan on demo­c­ra­t­ic reforms, stem­ming from its inter­na­tion­al oblig­a­tions and commitments;

26.  Calls on the Commission and the VP/HR to car­ry out a com­pre­hen­sive review of the EPCA in the light of the recent devel­op­ments and the out­come of the trade pol­i­cy review;

27.  Instructs its President to for­ward this res­o­lu­tion to the Council, the Commission, the Vice President of the Commission / High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for Central Asia, the gov­ern­ments and par­lia­ments of the Member States, and the President, Government and Parliament of Kazakhstan.

(1)OJ C 23, 21.1.2021, p. 83.(2)OJ C 45, 5.2.2016, p. 85.(3)OJ C 251 E, 31.8.2013, p. 93.(4)OJ C 224 E, 19.8.2010, p. 30.(5)UN Special Rapporteur on the pro­mo­tion and pro­tec­tion of human rights and fun­da­men­tal free­doms while coun­ter­ing terrorism.

TA‑9–2021-0056_EN (PDF)

The European Parliament

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