OSCE Chair Kazakhstan Fails to Uphold Human Rights

Subcommittee on Human Rights discussed on 25.10. about the human rights situation in Kazakhstan in view of the OSCE chairmanship.[:]


Kazakhstan holds the Chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation and Europe for the year of 2010 and will be hosting an OSCE summit on 1-2 December in Astana. The country is the first Central Asian State of the former Soviet Union to chair the OSCE.


Under the motto of “Trust – Tradition – Transparency – Tolerance”, Kazakhstan has committed to upholding the fundamental values and principles of the OSCE.


The discussion at the Subcommittee was thus aimed at looking objectively at these pledges and to get an understanding whether the country has lived up to its pledges in conducting OSCE chairmanship. The Subcommittee was pleased to welcome to the discussion several international human rights experts, delegation of Kazakhstani officials and also Mr Ainur Kurmanow, Chairman of the Human rights Organisation Talmas from Kazakhsstan.


At the hearing the subcommittee discussed testimonies and analysis of the international civil society concerning the situation of human rights in Kazakhstan. Unfortunately, despite the pledges concerning transparency and tolerance in particular, the country continues to harass human rights activists and hamper the freedom of assembly and the functioning of independent media. Internet suffers of similar restrictions. Unsound trials remain great concern and the case of Mr Evgenii Zhovtis continues to cause distress in the international community. Despite repeated calls to review the case of Mr Zhovtis, the government refuses to engage on the matter.


Most alarmingly, the Subcommittee received information that the crackdown of independent journalists and other human rights activists seems to be intensifying in the run up to the Summit to be held in December. In effect, the civil society has also been prevented from organising a parallel non-governmental summit to discuss the state of human rights in Kazakhstan. Chairwoman expressed her strong disapproval of any such measure by the OSCE Chairmanship.