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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on freedom of expression in Kazakhstan

8.3.2016 - (2016/2607(RSP))

with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 135 of the Rules of Procedure

Charles Tannock, Mark Demesmaeker, Ruža Tomašić, Arne Gericke, Angel Dzhambazki, Raffaele Fitto, Jana Žitňanská, Anna Elżbieta Fotyga, Tomasz Piotr Poręba, Ryszard Czarnecki, Ryszard Antoni Legutko, Monica Macovei on behalf of the ECR Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-0337/2016

Procedūra : 2016/2607(RSP)
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European Parliament resolution on freedom of expression in Kazakhstan


The European Parliament,

-  having regard to its previous resolutions on situation in Kazakhstan,

-  having regard to the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement signed on 21 December 2015,

-  having regard to the seventh round of annual EU - Kazakhstan Human Rights Dialogue held in Astana on 26 November 2015 and EU-Kazakhstan seminar for civil society held the day before,

-   having regard to Rules 135(5) and 123(4) of its Rules of Procedure,


A.  whereas EU and Kazakhstan have recently signed the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement,

B.  whereas Kazakhstan plays a crucial role with regard to the stability and security of Central Asia and the economic development of the region as a whole,

C.  whereas a number of concerns remain over human rights situation in the country, including with regard to the operating climate for the media, ongoing harassment and intimidation of the journalists, restricting access to internet, persecution of human rights defenders, use of torture and limits of the rights to assembly and association,

D.  whereas a number of journalists, opposition figures and human rights defenders, including Bolatbek Blyalov, Vladimir Kozlov, Ermek Narymbaev, Serikzhan Mambetalin, are held in prison on charges widely seen as politically motivated or related to exercise of their freedom of speech, association or assembly,

E.  whereas on 23 December 2015 journalists of the online portal ‘Nakanune.kz’ Guzal Baidalinova and Rafael Balgin have been taken into custody and placed under arrest for 2 months on charges of spreading false information,

F.  whereas a new Criminal Code, new Code of Administrative Offences, new Criminal Code and new Criminal Procedure Code came into force on 1 January 2015,

G.  Whereas Kazakhstan is ranked 160th out of 180 countries in the 2015 Reporters Without Borders press freedom index,

1.  Welcomes signing of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and Kazakhstan; expresses hope that it will provide a broad framework for reinforced political dialogue, cooperation in home and justice affairs and in many other areas, including human rights issues; underlines that it includes clear provisions of the need for respect of freedom of expression and freedom of the media,

2.  Regrets that the new legislative reforms introduced on 1 January 2015 are limiting the freedom of assembly and freedom of expression both online and offline; expresses concerns with pressure on independent media outlets and the possible negative implications of new draft legislation on the funding of civil society organisations,

3.  Welcomes the release of a number of imprisoned human rights and labour activists and new amendments to Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code aiming at a more efficient fight with torture and other ill-treatment; notes, however, that such cases, even if they are registered, are still not properly investigated,

4.  calls on the authorities to quash the convictions of activists Ermek Narymbaev, Serikzhan Mambetalin and Bolatbek Blyalov and to release the opposition leader Vladimir Kozlov, pending an independent and impartial review of his case,

5.  expresses its concern with amendments to the Communications Law adopted in 2014, which gave the Office of the Prosecutor General the power to force internet providers to block access to internet content without a court order,

6.  calls on the authorities to stop harassing independent and opposition journalists and to end punitive suspensions and shutdowns of independent media outlets critical of the government,

7.  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 governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Government and Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan.