November 19, 2018

State and human rights protection in Kazakhstan

By Askar Shakirov, Commissioner for Human Rights in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

During the years of independence, Kazakhstan has managed to build a balanced political system with a stable market economy, ensured a stable growth of the well-being of the population, and maintained interethnic harmony in the country. In a relatively short period of time, our country has successfully integrated into the international community, taking its rightful place as a dynamically developing country.

According to the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan, an individual, his life, rights and freedoms are the highest value of the state, which creates the basis for ensuring favorable conditions for the development of the human rights protection system.

Kazakhstan is a party to almost all major international UN conventions in the field of human rights protection. At the same time, Kazakhstan has recognized the competence of 4 out of 8 UN committees to receive individual claims from citizens about violation of their rights.

In the framework of fulfilling its obligations under international treaties, Kazakhstan pays due attention to the relevant recommendations of the UN Committees.

The institution of the Commissioner for Human Rights has a key role in the state mechanism for the protection of the rights and freedoms of individuals and citizens. One of the main activities of the Commissioner is handling citizens’ complaints.

Over the past five years, the ombudsman has received 6,705 complaints[1].

Based on these complaints, the analysis of the systemic problems is conducted, which is then sent to state authorities and officials in the form of an appeal and recommendations from the ombudsman.

Since its establishment the institution of the ombudsman has positioned itself as an effective institution for monitoring the rights and freedoms of citizens, acting as a mediator during constructive dialogues between state bodies and the civil society, as well as establishing comprehensive cooperation with international human rights organizations.

In 2017 the country adopted constitutional reforms, according to which the election and dismissal of the Ombudsman was transferred to the Senate of the Parliament of Kazakhstan.

It should be noted that over the years, both international and non-governmental organizations have repeatedly spoken about the need to raise the status of the Commissioner. This constitutional amendment was highly appreciated by the human rights community.

At the same time, the Ombudsman’s activities would not be so effective without close interaction with the civil society. For instance, representatives of NGOs and the civil society are among the members of the Expert and Coordination councils, as well as working groups under the Ombudsman. The success of the National Preventive Mechanism against Torture (NPM), established in accordance with the ratified Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture, can serve as evidence of the effectiveness of the Ombudsman’s cooperation with the civil society.

The chosen model of monitoring of all closed institutions of the country solely by representatives of the civil society, with the coordinating role of the Human Rights Commissioner, allows Kazakhstan to effectively work on prevention of human rights violations. The NPM in Kazakhstan is one of the most important implemented international standards that demonstrate Kazakhstan’s significant progress towards the Paris Principles.

The Ombudsman’s office helps to increase public awareness of human rights issues and to raise the level of public confidence in the state. Thus the Ombudsman’s activities are of great importance to the modernization of the society and the state.

Modern Kazakhstan has demonstrated a significant improvement in the area of human rights protection.

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[1]Report on the activities of the Commissioner for Human Rights in the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2017

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