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Motion for a resolution - B9-0145/2021Motion for a resolution
B9-0145/2021

    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

    Viola Von Cramon‑Taubadel, Francisco Guerreiro, Rosa D'Amato, Monika Vana, Bronis Ropė, Ernest Urtasun, Jordi Solé, Hannah Neumann, Ignazio Corrao, Diana Riba i Giner, Henrike Hahn, Heidi Hautala, Martin Häusling, Niklas Nienaß, Alviina Alametsä
    on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group

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

    NB: This motion for a resolution is available in the original language only.
    Procedure : 2021/2544(RSP)
    Document stages in plenary
    Document selected :  
    B9-0145/2021
    Texts tabled :
    B9-0145/2021
    Votes :
    Texts adopted :

    B9‑0145/2021

    European Parliament resolution on the Human Rights situation in Kazakhstan

    (2021/2544(RSP))

    The European Parliament,

     having regard to its previous resolutions on Kazakhstan and on EU-Kazakhstan relations,

     having regard to the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) signed between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Kazakhstan, of the other part, on 21 December 2015, which entered into force on 1 March 2020,

     having regard to the European Commission’s Joint Communication to the European Parliament and the Council on “The EU and Central Asia: New Opportunities for a Stronger Partnership” of 15 May 2019,

     having regard to the Council Conclusions on the New Strategy on Central Asia of 17 June 2019,

     having regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the United Nations Convention against Torture,

     having regard to the Statements by the EEAS Spokesperson on the increasing pressure on human rights NGOs in Kazakhstan of 1 February 2021, on the parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan of 11 January 2021, and on steps to abolish the death penalty of 2 January 2021,

     having regard to the Statement of Preliminary Findings and Conclusions  by the OSCE/ODIHR International Election Observation Mission to the Parliamentary Elections in the Republic of Kazakhstan on 10 January 2021,

      having regard to annual EU-Kazakhstan Human Rights Dialogues,

     having regard to Rule 144 of its Rules of Procedure,

     

    1. whereas the EPCA puts a strong emphasis on democracy and the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms and sustainable development as well as civil society cooperation, including involvement of civil society in policy making; whereas the free and independent work of civil society, the opposition, and the media is a cornerstone of a democratic society based on the rule of law;
    2. whereas a worrying deterioration in the general situation of human rights and a crackdown on civil society organisations in Kazakhstan has been noted in the past weeks, with harsh restrictions of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association; whereas civil society and human rights organisations working in Kazakhstan have been subjected to increasing pressure and penalisation by the country’s authorities, which hinder reform efforts and limit the essential work of civil society; whereas the state of emergency and COVID-19 restrictions have been abused to dampen these organisations’ activities even further; whereas the authorities continue to abuse “anti-extremism” legislation with the purpose of silencing political opponents and critical voices;
    3. whereas excessive requirements for registration of civil society organisations, as well as unjustified reporting requirements increased their already heavy reporting burden, requiring all non-state organisations and individuals to report any foreign funding they receive to the tax authorities, with administrative and severe criminal responsibility for non-conforming reporting, which criminalises activists and organisations and hampers their work; whereas these rules have increasingly been used as a means of arbitrary repression against civil society in the run-up to the parliamentary elections in January 2021;
    4. whereas over a dozen civil society organizations in Kazakhstan have been charged with various tax and reporting violations under Article 460-1 of the Code of Administrative Offences over the past months; whereas several of these organisations have been fined or have had to suspend their activities; whereas charges against several of these organisations have been dropped suddenly on 4 February 2021;
    5. whereas the OSCE/ODIHR Limited Election Observation Mission (LEOM) found that the 10 January parliamentary elections in Kazakhstan lacked genuine competition; whereas many long-standing ODIHR recommendations remain unaddressed, including those related to fundamental freedoms, impartiality of election administration, eligibility to vote and stand for elections, voter registration, the media, and publication of election results;
    6. whereas Kazakh authorities routinely deny permits for peaceful protests and police break up unauthorized protests by violent means and arbitrarily detaining participants, demonstrating disregard for international norms on the right to peaceful assembly; whereas the law on peaceful assembly and the amendments to the laws on political parties and elections adopted in May 2020 fail to respect fundamental rights; whereas peaceful protests took place across Kazakhstan on election day and were met with violence by government security forces, and at least 350 individuals were arbitrarily detained;
    7. whereas independent journalists have continued to face harassment, arbitrary detention, and arbitrary criminal prosecutions; whereas media freedom remains of concern;
    8. whereas the systemic use of torture and ill-treatment of prisoners and detainees and the impunity for these crimes remain a serious problem, as authorities continue to disregard prisoners’ rights and international standards for detention facilities, and fail to credibly investigate torture allegations;
    9. whereas the high level of violence against women and traditional patriarchal norms and stereotypes continue to pose major obstacles to gender equality in Kazakhstan; whereas NGOs state that violence against women is under-reported and that there is a low rate of prosecution in these cases as well as in sexual harassment cases; whereas COVID-19 has created a new obstacle for girls to equal access to information and education, according to the UN;
    10. whereas LGBTI persons in Kazakhstan still face legal challenges and discrimination; whereas the parliament adopted discriminatory amendments to the new health code in June 2020 that regulate aspects of health care for transgender people; whereas the process for changing gender identity in Kazakhstan remains invasive and humiliating;

     

    1. Expresses its solidarity with the democratic forces in Kazakhstan, committed to an open and free society, and its support for all individuals and organisations who are targets of repression;
    2. Urges the government of Kazakhstan to abide by its international obligations and respect human rights and fundamental freedoms; calls on Kazakhstan’s authorities to put an end to human rights abuses and any form of political repression and harassment, in accordance with the principles laid down in the EPCA;
    3. Calls on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all political prisoners, including Aron Atabek, Yerzhan Yelshibayev, Igor Chuprina, Ruslan Guinatullin, Medet Yeseneyev, Almat Zhumagulov, Aset Abishev, Kenzhebek Abishev, and Saltanat Kusmankyzy; welcomes the release of Maks Bokayev but urges authorities to revoke the ban from activism put on him for three years;
    4. Urges the government of Kazakhstan to end all forms of arbitrary detention, reprisals and harassment against human rights defenders, civil society organisations, trade unions, journalists, and political opposition movements, including against supporters of Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan” and “Koshe Partiyasy”, and guarantee that they are able to do their work free from any repression;
    5. Calls on Kazakhstan’s authorities to cease misusing financial reporting schemes to put pressure on human rights groups, to drop the unfounded charges of administrative offenses against the groups targeted for alleged reporting violations, bring the legislation and practice on reporting foreign income into compliance with international standards, including by repealing articles 460-1 and 460-2 of the Code on Administrative Offenses, and to instead protect and facilitate the important work of civil society;
    6. Notes with concern the new draft law on charities that imposes additional regulation measures for civil society organisations and directly contradicts the logic and the best practices of charity work, as well as the recent initiative to create a Donor Organizations’ Association under the aegis of the government that risks being misused to control donors’ organisations, further curtailing their independence and ownership of activities;
    7. Calls on Kazakhstan to fully implement the long-standing recommendations of the OSCE/ODIHR, in particular in light of the 10 January 2021 elections, according to which the legal framework in Kazakhstan is not yet conducive to holding free and fair elections in line with international standards; insists on the respect for citizens’ electoral rights and a level playing field for opposition candidates;
    8. Urges Kazakhstan to ensure the right to freedom of expression and of assembly, and calls on the government to review the new law on peaceful assembly and to cease any form of harassment, physical violence and arbitrary arrests of peaceful protesters; calls in this regard for a thorough reform of the justice system and, as recommended by the UN and the OSCE, the removal of articles from the criminal law that are used for political motivations;
    9. Condemns the practice of torture and ill-treatment in detention facilities and urges Kazakhstan’s authorities to thoroughly investigate incidents of torture and end impunity;
    10. Calls on the authorities to combat all forms of violence against women, including by ensuring effective and accessible reporting channels and protection measures that are sensitive to victims’ needs and confidentiality; urges an end to impunity and action to ensure appropriate criminal sanctions against perpetrators, including in cases of domestic violence;
    11. Insists that the rights of the LGBTI community must be fully respected; calls on the government of Kazakhstan to ensure the principle of anti-discrimination against the LGBTI community, including by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity or sexual orientation by law;
    12. Commends the ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by Kazakhstan on 2 January 2021, and expects it will lead to the irreversible abolition of the death penalty;
    13. Calls on Kazakhstan to introduce proper safeguards for personal data and strengthen data protection legislation, as well as to limit the use of invasive digital surveillance technologies and introduce a regulatory framework that clearly prohibits arbitrary and unlawful digital surveillance, including face recognition, in compliance with human rights;
    14. Calls on the VP/HR and the Council to increase support to civil society that promotes human rights, democratic values, rule of law, and fundamental freedoms in Kazakhstan, especially human rights defenders, including through financial assistance, and strengthen people-to-people contacts with the citizens of Kazakhstan; stresses that financial assistance to Kazakhstan should be aimed at supporting civil society and victims of political persecution, not at supporting the authoritarian regime;
    15. Encourages the EU to continuously call on Kazakhstan to repeal or amend all laws incompatible with international standards, and to raise human rights issues in all relevant bilateral meetings; urges the EEAS to proactively engage in trial observations, in order to monitor politically sensitive trials and politically motivated prosecutions and verify that the right to a fair trial applies to all;
    16. Demands that human rights be at the top of the EU’s engagement with Central Asia; underlines that deeper political and economic relations with the EU as envisaged by the EPCA must be based on shared values and correspond to an active and concrete engagement by Kazakhstan on democratic reforms, stemming from its international obligations and commitments;
    17. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the Council, the Commission, the governments and parliaments of the Member States, as well as the Government and Parliament of Kazakhstan.

     

    Last updated: 9 February 2021
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