Parliament of Kazakhstan should reject restrictive reform package on Criminal Code
On 9 April, the Parliament of Kazakhstan has the second hearing on a reform package of four laws related to criminal proceedings in Kazakhstan. – The reform is long awaited since there are several problematic issues with the current legislation, but unfortunately the suggested amendments, if implemented, will result in a more restrictive legislation package rather than an improvement, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the International Legal Initiative in Kazakhstan warn.
The ILI and the NHC have submitted an open letter to the lawmakers in Astana, urging them to reject the draft in its current form and take into consideration the range of suggestions submitted by representatives of the civil society. Other civil society members in Kazakhstan have already expressed their support of the letter.
- In particular, the new edition of the Criminal Code discriminates leaders of associations, as well as significantly restricts freedom of association, providing punishment for illegal interference in the work of state bodies, warns Lene Wetteland, Central Asia advisor with the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.- If implemented, the new law provisions will serve to put leaders of any civil society organization, including religious groups and political parties, in a bad light as well as to make it difficult for the organisations as such to function.
Aina Shormanbayeva of the ILI warns that the Criminal Procedural Code also will be restrictive, as it would follow the provisions in the Criminal Code, as well. – One of the most fundamental principles of law, the presumption of innocence, suffers as the confiscation of property from people under investigation will take place before any decision by a judge, Shormanbayeva concludes.
Shormanbayeva has participated in the working group on the reform of the Criminal Code package together with several other civil society activists and lawyers in Kazakhstan. – The NHC and ILI urge the Parliament and the authorities to take into consideration the range of detailed recommendations developed by these experts, says Wetteland. This would idicate that the authorities of Kazakhstan value the input and importance of the working group and that the input will have a practical effect rather than being another positive initiative that exists only on paper in Kazakhstan.