New Decree on Human Rights in Kazakhstan.

President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has signed a decree “On further measures of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the field of human rights”, which instructs the government to approve the Kazakh government’s action plan setting out “Priority Measures in the Field of Human Rights”.

Protection of human rights has been a priority for President Tokayev since his election as Head of State in June 2019.

He highlighted specific plans for government actions aimed at addressing human rights issues through legislation during a second meeting of the National Council of Public Trust in December 2019, and also spoke about human rights issues during his annual State-of-the-Nation Address in September 2020.

In particular, he instructed the government to take comprehensive measures to protect citizens, especially children, from cyberbullying, combat human trafficking and torture.

In February 2021, the President proposed a new package of measures aimed at enhancing human rights protection for convicted persons, as well as strengthening legal mechanisms for the protection of the rights of women.

The new decree is in line with the concept of a “listening state”, put forward by President Tokayev.

It envisages a government that listens to the comments and criticisms of the society. As part of this concept, the government is implementing substantial political reforms that cover three broad areas – democratisation of the country’s political system, more power to the people, and strengthened human rights.

The new decree covers the areas of:

•            Improving the mechanisms of interaction with the UN treaty bodies and special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council;

•            Ensuring the rights of victims of human trafficking;

•            Human rights of citizens with disabilities;

•            The elimination of discrimination against women;

•            The right to freedom of association;

•            The right to freedom of expression;

•            The human right to life and public order;

•            Increasing the efficiency of interaction with non-governmental organisations;

•            Human rights in criminal justice and enforcement, and prevention of torture and ill-treatment.

The adoption of the decree further formalises human rights as one of the basic priorities of state policy. The implementation of its provisions will further promote the protection of human rights in Kazakhstan and contribute towards building a just and progressive state.

Speaking to the Astana Times,  Erlan Karin, aide to the Kazakh President, reflected on previous human rights reforms initiated by Tokayev, including the abolition of the death penalty in late 2019. Karin pointed out a consistent focus on the importance of regulations against cyberbullying, human trafficking, torture, staff misconduct in penitentiary institutions and gender discrimination in Tokayev’s state-of-the-nation addresses and meetings with the National Council of Public Trust.

“The significance of this decree lies in the fact that with its ratification, the human rights theme is finally incorporated as one of the basic priorities of state policy. The implementation of all the provisions enshrined in today’s decree will foster a comprehensive modernization of the human rights sphere and will become our next step towards building a just and progressive state,” said Karin.

President of the Charter for Human Rights Public Fund Zhemis Turmagambetova stated that the relevance of the human rights issue and that the decree presents an opportunity to transform the issue from an abstract problem into a practical matter with efficient solutions.

“It is the government’s turn to develop plans for the implementation of the decree. It must clearly follow the principles of a responsive government. This process should take place in a constructive partnership between government agencies and civil society, national and international experts and scientists. Civil society has something to contribute to the matter,” said Turmagambetova.


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