Annual Report: Kazakstan 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Kazakstan 2010

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Head of state Nursultan Nazarbaev
Head of government Karim Massimov
Death penalty abolitionist for ordinary crimes
Population 15.6 million
Life expectancy 64.9 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 34/26 per 1,000
Adult literacy 99.6 per cent

Confessions extracted under torture continued to be admitted as evidence in trials. Criminal proceedings failed to comply with international standards of fair trial. Torture and other ill-treatment by members of the security forces remained widespread, in particular by officers of the National Security Service in the context of operations in the name of national security, and the fight against terrorism and corruption. Freedom of expression and freedom of religion continued to be restricted.


In May, President Nazarbaev approved a National Human Rights Action Plan for 2009 to 2012. This was to allay concerns of domestic and international human rights organizations that Kazakhstan was failing to comply with its human rights obligations on the eve of assuming the chairmanship of the OSCE in January 2010.

In July, the President signed amendments to a law on the internet which classified all online resources as mass media and made them subject to the same stringent rules that governed other mass media, such as criminal sanctions for criticizing the President and government officials.

Torture and other ill-treatment

In November the European Court of Human Rights ruled in the case of Kaboulov v. Ukraine that the extradition to Kazakhstan of any criminal suspect, including Amir Damirovich Kaboulov, would be in violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, as they would run a serious risk of being subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment.

Despite amendments to the criminal and criminal procedural codes to clamp down on abusive practices, torture and other ill-treatment remained widespread. Confessions reportedly extracted under torture continued to be admitted as evidence in criminal trials, and individuals continued to be held in unregistered detention for longer than the three hours allowed for in national law. The lack of a clear definition of detention remained unaddressed despite recommendations of the UN Committee against Torture in November 2008.

Following his visit to Kazakhstan in May 2009, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture concluded that he "received many credible allegations of beatings with hands and fists, plastic bottles filled with sand and police truncheons and of kicking, asphyxiation through plastic bags and gas masks used to obtain confessions from suspects. In several cases, these allegations were supported by forensic medical evidence."