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Human Rights in Republic of Kazakstan

Amnesty International Report 2008

Head of State: Nursultan Nazarbaev
Head of government: Karim Massimov (replaced Danial Akhmedov in January)
Death penalty: retentionist
Population: 14.8 million
Life expectancy: 65.9 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 86/60 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 99.5 per cent

Refugees and asylum-seekers from Uzbekistan and China continued to be at risk of abduction and forcible return. Local authorities destroyed the homes of members of a religious minority. The scope of the death penalty was significantly reduced.


In May, President Nursultan Nazarbaev signed into law constitutional amendments increasing the powers of parliament. The amendments also impose a two-term limit on future presidents.

The pro-presidential party Nur Otan (Fatherland's Ray of Light) won all the seats in parliamentary elections in August. The OSCE said that the election had not met international standards.

President Nazarbaev dismissed his son-in-law Rakhat Aliev as ambassador to Austria in May and Kazakstani authorities subsequently issued an arrest warrant and an extradition request for him in connection with the beating and abduction of two bank officials in Kazakstan in January. Rakhat Aliev said that the charges were politically motivated. A court in Austria refused to extradite him on the grounds that he would not be guaranteed a fair trial. The trial of Rakhat Aliev began in his absence in November on charges including kidnapping, money laundering, assault and murder.

In September Kazakstan signed the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture, allowing unannounced and independent monitoring of all detention facilities.

Refugees and asylum-seekers

The authorities continued to co-operate with Uzbekistan, Russia and China in the name of regional security and the "war on terror" in ways that breached their obligations under international human rights and refugee law. Refugees were not effectively protected and continued to be at risk of refoulement or abduction. In August the national security service confirmed that they had detained more than 50 members of banned Islamist parties or groups and returned them to Uzbekistan.

  • Ulugbek Khaidarov, an independent journalist and human rights defender from Uzbekistan, reported that members of the Uzbekistani security services had tried unsuccessfully to abduct him in October in Shimkent, southern Kazakstan. Ulugbek Khaidarov, who had fled to Kazakstan after being released from prison in November 2006, was recognized as a refugee by UNHCR and was awaiting resettlement.
  • Death penalty

    In May the scope of the death penalty was reduced from 10 "exceptionally grave" crimes to the offence of terrorism leading to loss of life. A moratorium on executions remained in force and no death sentences were passed. All 31 prisoners who remained on death row had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment.

    Discrimination and house demolitions

    In June local authorities authorized the destruction of 12 homes belonging to the Hare Krishna community of Sri Vrindavan Dham in the village of Seleksia outside Almaty. The authorities said that Hare Krishna members had illegally acquired the land on which the community had built or renovated 66 homes when properties were privatized in the 1990s, a charge the Hare Krishna community denied. Only the homes in the village that belonged to members of the Hare Krishna community were destroyed.

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