- In September, Evgeni Zhovtis, a prominent human rights defender and director of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law, was sentenced to four years' imprisonment following his conviction for causing the death of a pedestrian in a traffic accident at the end of July. Evgeni Zhovtis had admitted to having hit and fatally injured the pedestrian with his car, but pleaded not guilty by default. An appeal court in October upheld the conviction. The trial reportedly fell short of meeting national and international fair trial standards. The failure to inform Evgeni Zhovtis that he was being interrogated as a suspect rather than as a witness deprived him of a number of rights during investigation, such as the right to remain silent and the right to have access to reports of forensic experts. In October, he was transferred to an open prison in Ust- Kamenogorsk. His lawyers lodged a complaint against the appeal court's decision.
Freedom of religion
The right to freedom of religion remained restricted and religious minorities continued to report harassment by police and local authorities. Muslims worshipping outside state-registered mosques, such as the Ahmadi community and followers of the Salafi movement, reported being increasingly targeted by police and the NSS.
- In March, NSS and local police conducted several raids on an Ahmadi Muslim community in Semipalatinsk as members of the community were gathering for Friday prayers. Reportedly, those present were forced to give personal details. During one of the raids, members of the community were detained and questioned at the local police station for several hours.
In February, following a request from the President, the Constitutional Council assessed a controversial draft law on freedom of conscience which would severely restrict the rights of religious minorities. The Council held that the draft law was incompatible with the Constitution and international human rights obligations. A revision of the draft law remained pending at the end of December.
Amnesty International visit/report
Amnesty International delegates visited Kazakhstan in June.Kazakhstan: Submission to the UN Universal Periodic Review (8 September 2009)