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MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on the Human rights situation in Kazakhstan

9.2.2021 - (2021/2544(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 144 of the Rules of Procedure

Malin Björk
on behalf of The Left Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B9-0144/2021

Procedura : 2021/2544(RSP)
Ciclo di vita in Aula
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European Parliament resolution on the Human rights situation in Kazakhstan


The European Parliament,

-  having regard to its previous resolutions on Kazakhstan,


-  having regard to the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) between the European Union (EU) and its Member States and the Republic of Kazakhstan, which came into effect on 1 March 2020,


-  having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 10 December 1948, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders of 1998,


-  having regard to the adoption by the Human Rights Council of the Universal Periodic Review outcomes of Kazakhstan, 12 March 2020,


-  having regard the Constitution of Kazakhstan,


-  having regard to Rules 144 of its Rules of Procedure,


  1. Whereas on January 10, 2021 elections to the lower chamber of the Kazakh Parliament were held in Kazakhstan; whereas the ODIHR Limited Election Observation Mission’s (LEOM) preliminary findings found the elections neither free nor fair; whereas OSCE and the European Union stressed, among others, the lack of genuine competition, serious electoral irregularities and numerous limits imposed on the exercise of constitutionally guaranteed fundamental freedoms including detention of peaceful demonstrators;


  1. whereas according to local NGOs, the authorities severely obstructed the effective oversight of elections by independent observers, by denying them access to polling stations and subjecting them to harassment and police brutality;


  1. whereas on the day of voting as well as throughout the campaign period, the authorities have been tightening their grip on the internet by internet slow-downs, shutdowns of some media websites, or forcing citizens to install a “national security certificate” allowing for the interception of traffic data and content;
  2. whereas Kazakhstan continues to restrict civil and political rights, including freedom of expression and peaceful assembly; whereas opposition leaders, human rights defenders, civil-society actors and journalists are particularly targeted and subject to harassment and criminal prosecution; whereas the limitation and violation of human rights has become stricter within the context of COVID-19 and the January 2021 elections;
  3. whereas the authorities continue to use broad and vague provisions of the Penal Code to persecute its critics; whereas the new public assemblies law, signed by the president in May, bans spontaneous protests, and prohibits unregistered groups and some people with disabilities from organizing protests;


  1. whereas during the campaign period mass arrests were carried out; whereas on election day the authorities illegally detained at least 350 peaceful protesters who were subsequently held for hours at police stations with no food or access to toilet facilities;


  1. whereas the main national opposition media outlets remain shut down since 2016, and Kazakhstan ranks 157 out of 180 on the World Press Freedom Index (2020); whereas the authorities keep harassing, intimidating, detaining and persecuting independent journalists like Saniya Toiken and Lukpan Akhmediyarov, the latter facing criminal charges for writing about the corruption in local governments;


  1. whereas the work of activists and civil society groups continue being restricted; whereas the authorities of Kazakhstan has increased restrictions on the activity and funding possibilities of NGOs by introducing controversial regulations that oblige foreign-funded NGOs to submit supplementary financial reporting; whereas Kazakhstan applies unfavourable tax legislation against human rights NGOs that are beneficiaries of foreign grants resulting in heavy fines and suspension of their activities;


  1. whereas the number of political prisoners in Kazakhstan is on the rise, currently reaching 26 individuals held either in prisons or pre-trial detention facilities, including poet Aron Atabek, blogger  Igor Chuprina, and activists Yerzhan Yelshibayev, Almat Zhumagulov, Aset Abishev, , and Medet Yeseneyev;


  1. whereas despite the appeals of the UN Special Rapporteur, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the European Union on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, the Kazakhstani authorities abuse vague and overly broad extremism laws to persecute the opposition;


  1. whereas following this law, since 22 October 2020, the day the authorities announced the date of elections, the number of politically-motivated criminal cases has doubled, rising to 99, namely based on “extremism” charges; whereas 69 of them are in danger of imminent arrest like activists Gulzipa Dzhaukerova, and based on trumped-up ‘extremism’ charges, 11 activists were put under house arrest, including Ainur Myrzaliyeva and Zhanmurat Ashtayev;


  1. whereas peaceful opposition movements such as “Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan” have been banned and many of their followers incarcerated; whereas political prisoners Aset Abishev, and Askar Ibrayev are incarcerated on charges of supporting DCK; whereas in 2020, the National Asylum Court of France has granted political asylum to DCK leader Mukhtar Ablyazov;


  1. whereas charges of “extremism” are also used to target human rights defenders such as Daryb Khasenov, Nurgul Kaluova, and Aizhan Ismakova, along with other means of retaliation;


  1. whereas in 2020, activists Serik Orazov, Amanbike Khairolla, Zhanbolat Agadil, Garifulla Embergenov and Dulat Agadil were killed; whereas human rights activist and blogger, Dulat Agadil, was killed during his arbitrary pre-trial detention in Nur-Sultan, after being tortured and denied medical assistance; whereas no one was held accountable for the murder and no transparent investigation has been carried out; whereas on 10 November 2020 Dulat Agadil’s teenage son and a key witness of his arbitrary arrest, was murdered under suspicious circumstances, and his family is under constant pressure from the authorities; whereas a few hundred individuals participating in memorial services and commemorations of Dulat Agadil or providing financial assistance to his family are subjected to arbitrary detentions and political persecution (at least 244 persons) or accused of “extremism” (57 persons);


  1. whereas torture in Kazakhstan is common with at least 200 cases being annually recorded by the Coalition Against Torture; whereas those who inflict torture go unpunished, and prison facilities even brought suit against human rights defender Elena Semenova who exposed the use of torture;


  1. whereas high levels of violence against women and girls persist in Kazakhstan, and traditional patriarchal norms and stereotypes constitute a significant obstacle to gender equality; whereas victims lack sufficient protection, and judiciary and police officers and service providers are not trained to identify, prevent, and respond to violence against women; whereas according to NGOs, violence against women is under-reported and that there is a low rate of prosecution of cases of violence against women and sexual harassment; whereas the Parliament has passed a draft law on domestic violence in September, which does not criminalize domestic violence as a standalone offense;


  1. whereas LGBTI people are subjected to harassment, discrimination and often violence; whereas LGBTI people lack legal protection from discrimination and authorities of Kazakhstan fail to provide consistent care and protection; ; whereas while same-sex sexual activity is legal, same-sex marriage remains illegal, and same-sex couples are not eligible for the same legal protections as heterosexual couples;


  1. whereas 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, Shymkent City Administration has not dropped its lawsuit against the Industrial Trade Union of Fuel and Energy Workers (ITUFEW) based on unsubstantiated claims or provisions that no longer exist;


  1. whereas the authorities have used the State of Emergency and the COVID-19 pandemic to suppress independent voices, especially those exposing poor management; whereas, since the start of 2020, the authorities initiated 87 criminal cases for “dissemination of knowingly false information’’ about COVID-19;


  1. whereas since the European Parliament ratified the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) in 2017, it has repeatedly called on Kazakhstan to end harassment of journalists, activists, trade union leaders, and human rights defenders, to release those unfairly jailed, and to revise its Trade Union Law and Labour Code;


  1. whereas Kazakhstan possesses 3% of global oil reserves, placing it among the world’s top 15 countries in terms of oil reserves; whereas Energy issues represent one of the seven priorities of the EU strategy for Central Asia;


  1. Reiterates its deep concerns on the dramatic situation of human rights in Kazakhstan, which has been worsened because of the repression during the recent elections; calls on the authorities of Kazakhstan to stop abusing the current pandemic to restrict fundamental rights;


  1. Urges Kazakhstani authorities to adhere to their international human rights obligations and to immediately cease human rights abuses and other forms of political repression, including unfounded criminal prosecution, torture and political killings;


  1. Notes Kazakhstan's inclusive reform process, which aims at furthering the country’s modernisation, democracy and stability, and includes efforts to reform the political system of Kazakhstan to develop parliamentarism and a multi-party system, and to expand civic participation and enhance the mechanisms of the protection of human rights; concludes however, that there is still much work to go from words to action in securing democratic freedoms;


  1. Urges the authorities to adhere to international standards regarding the legal framework for holding elections; calls on the authorities to take into account the independent human rights and democracy reports that note the serious irregularities of last elections, and to address them;


  1. Urges to fully respect and guarantee freedom of expression as well as freedom of peaceful assembly and association; reiterates the need to substantially review the new Law on Peaceful Assembly and to put an end to all forms of persecution against peaceful protesters; condemns the worrying state of media freedom in the country and calls on the authorities to respect the values of media freedom and plurality;


  1. Calls on the authorities to take the necessary measures so that civil society organizations, opposition movements and parties, journalists, activists and human rights defenders can operate without fear of intimidation and repression; calls for the immediate release of all political prisoners and those held in pre-trial detention facilities, including those who have been arrested under vague and broad legal definitions of “extremism” such as the supporters of “Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan”, as well as to abandon the use of pre-trial detention, house arrest, and other restrictions of liberty against activists, social media users and peaceful protesters;


  1. Welcomes the release of Max Bokayev and asks the authorities to lift a 3-year ban to allow him to continue his essential work; welcomes as well, the removal of the restrictions on activities of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and other NGOs; urges to suspend the increased restrictions and unfavourable tax legislation against human rights NGOs, and to cease harassment of human rights defenders and civil society activists by means of administrative arrests and fines, as well as criminal prosecution;


  1. Welcomes the signature of Kazakhstan to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, committing it to abolish the death penalty, and calls on Kazakhstan to now take the final step by abolishing the death penalty in law for all crimes and ratifying the Optional Protocol without reservations;


  1. Condemns the killings of Serik Orazov, Amanbike Khairolla, Zhanbolat Agadil, Garifulla Embergenov and Dulat Agadil and calls for transparent and independent investigations and for the accountability of those responsible; calls for the immediate release of all those detained and persecuted for participating in their commemorations or financially assisting the families of the aforementioned murdered activists; calls on the authorities of Kazakhstan to refrain from persecuting civil society activists and family members investigating the death of Dulat Agadil and other victims of political killings;


  1. Urges the authorities to respect political pluralism and implement EP’s recommendations stipulated in its resolution of 14 March 2019 and the recommendations of the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism;


  1. Deeply regrets that terrorism and extremism charges continue to be widely misused to restrict the rights to freedom of expression and association; calls on Kazakhstan’s authorities to amend the Penal Code regarding “extremism” and “terrorism”, bringing them it line with international human rights standards, so as to ensure that dissenting voices are not threatened with criminal charges;


  1. Calls to put an end to torture and ill-treatment, to grant independent investigations regarding such incidents and to ensure accountability of those responsible;


  1. Calls on the authorities of Kazakhstan to stop persecuting union leaders and activists, and to cancel the sentences of Larisa Kharkova, Erlan Baltabay, Amin Eleusinov and Nurbek Kushakbaev; calls on the Kazakh authorities to withdraw the lawsuit against the Trade Union of the Fuel and Energy Industry Workers to fully respect the rights of workers to form independent trade unions and to respect and adhere to ILO core conventions, including the ones which defend the right to strike and collective bargaining;
  2. Notes that since 2008, when Kazakhstan ratified the Protocol, the Republic has significantly improved its national legislation to prosecute trafficking in persons and to protect trafficking victims. Still, there is a number of challenges to be addressed to eliminate trafficking in persons in Kazakhstan, both in terms of support to victims and prosecution of exploiters;
  3. Welcomes the work to introduce a domestic violence law, however, concludes that the law has serious shortcomings, as it does not criminalize domestic violence as a standalone offense, nor include a comprehensive definition of “family members.”; urges the Kazakhstani authorities to criminalize domestic violence as a standalone offense, and to ensure criminal sanctions against perpetrators; calls on the Kazakhstani authorities to deem shelters and services for survivors of domestic violence as “essential services” and to facilitate access to them for all women and girls also during the coronavirus crisis; urges Kazakhstan to sign and ratify the Istanbul Convention; calls on the Kazakhstani authorities to combat violence against women, and to efficiently train judiciary and police officers as well as service providers involved to identify, prevent and respond to it; calls for safe, effective, accessible and confidential channels to report violence against women and sexual harassment;
  4. Calls on the authorities to grant same-sex couples the same legal protection as heterosexual couples; calls on efficient training of judiciary and police officers, as well as service providers, to ensure that LGBTI people are given appropriate care and protection; calls on the legal and practical protection of LGBTI people from discrimination, harassment and violence;


  1. Calls on the Kazakhstani authorities to respect freedom of expression within the framework of the coronavirus pandemic, and to suspend the 87 criminal cases for “dissemination of knowingly false information” about COVID-19;


  1. Underlines the importance of Kazakhstan’s work towards nuclear disarmament, and  welcomes its signature and ratification of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons; calls on all EU member states to follow this example, and sign the Treaty;


  1. Urges the European Union through the EU Delegation to conduct regular meetings with civil society and raise their concerns with the government of Kazakhstan whenever possible; urges the mentioned Delegation to monitor and publicly condemn ongoing human rights violations as well as to provide timely and substantial support to imprisoned activists and victims of political prosecution by arranging prison visits and trial monitoring; calls on the EU Delegation to support civil society and rights groups, in an active manner;


  1. Reaffirms that the activities of European companies operating in third countries must fully respect international human rights standards; Calls on the Member States to ensure that companies under their national law remain bound to respect human rights and the social, health and environmental standards imposed on them if they establish or operate in a third country;


  1. Deplores the increasing tendency of EU development policy to follow geopolitical, security, migratory and private profit interest; recalls to protect the development focus and nature of ODAs including a transparent and accountable reporting system; recalls on ODA’s unique role on achieving effective development results; calls on EU aid to be aligned with internationally agreed development effectiveness principles, be human rights-centred, promote gender equality, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, LGBTI rights and women empowerment and focus on tackling the root problems of inequality and poverty in order to achieve the recently approved Sustainable Development Goals;


  1. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the European External Action Service, the EU Special Representative for Human Rights, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the UN Human Rights Council, and the Government and Parliament of Kazakhstan.



Ultimo aggiornamento: 9 febbraio 2021
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