Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev (Photo credit: Reuters)
Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev (Photo credit: Reuters)

Kazakhstan's new decree on human rights reforms may establish effective protection mechanisms

ANI | Updated: Jun 14, 2021 17:01 IST


Nur-Sultan [Kazakhstan], June 14 (ANI): As part of his political modernisation agenda, Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev signed a decree named "On further human rights measures in Kazakhstan" on June 9.
The decree warrants the launch of a human rights priority action plan that protects the rights of vulnerable people and minority groups, including women, people with disabilities and victims of human trafficking, according to Astana Times. It also includes protection of freedom of association, freedom of expression and freedom to life and public order along with cooperation with the United Nations (UN) bodies.
The decree came into effect after its signing and the first results of the action plan will be discussed by January 25.
"An important stage of political modernisation is a further implementation of concrete measures in the field of human rights. A corresponding decree was signed today. The government has been instructed to adopt an Urgent Action Plan for its implementation," Tokayev had said on his official Twitter page.
The new decree has already generated a significant discourse, with the Chair of the Kazakh Coalition on Consumer Rights Protection Murat Abenov noted that protecting human rights is a matter no less urgent than economic development.
Abenov explained that reforms of the judicial system in order to meet UN standards should be a priority of human rights reform. A high-functioning judicial system is a cornerstone of sustainable political reforms. Regarding the public reception of the new decree, Abenov stated that the support of the public is expected.
"I think the majority will support the presidential decree. It is important that they carried out work is transparent. The issues of ensuring human rights and freedoms should not be resolved without participating in an open discussion. I would like civil society to be involved in this issue," said Abenov on his Facebook page.

Director of the Expert Institute of European Law and Human Rights Marat Bashimov stated on his Facebook page that the new measures have the potential to fundamentally change mechanisms of effective human rights protection. However, he remarked that it cannot be fully implemented due to the lack of practical mechanisms for the execution of decisions of international organisations.
Astana Times reported that former Protection Officer at the UN Refugee Agency for Central Asia and Associate Professor of Law at the Eurasian Technological University Dr Khalida Azhigulova also emphasized the significance of the new decree for the enforcement of constitutional rights of Kazakh citizens. He also called for all ministries and other central and local executive authorities to enforce the human rights standards in the implementation of any policy programs and bills.
"We will not become a fully developed country based on the rule of law if our citizens do not know their rights and their duty to respect the laws and rights of other people, and until effective mechanisms for the protection of human rights, both national and international, function in our country. Moreover, it is necessary to actively educate the population about human rights in schools, universities, workplaces and through the media, so that our population develops a correct understanding and respect for human rights," said Dr Azhigulova.
As per the new decree, elimination of discrimination against women, protection of freedom of association, freedom of expression and freedom to life and public order are highlighted as priority areas.
Women's rights activists and former Advisor to the Minister of the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs Aida Alzhanova in an interview said: "The concept of human rights in Kazakhstan is not fully developed. Each person has a different understanding of it. The fact that the first paragraph of the new decree says that Kazakhstan cooperates with treaty organizations and the UN Human Rights Council is a very important step because these organizations are the ones that look at Kazakhstan's human rights reports."
Meanwhile, an aide to the Kazakh President Erlan Karin highlighted a consistent focus on the importance of regulations against cyberbullying, human trafficking, torture, staff misconduct in penitentiary institutions and gender discrimination in Tokayev's state-of-the-nation addresses and meetings, Astana Times reported.
"The significance of this decree lies in the fact that with its ratification, the human rights theme is finally incorporated as one of the basic priorities of state policy. The implementation of all the provisions enshrined in today's decree will foster a comprehensive modernization of the human rights sphere and will become our next step towards building a just and progressive state," said Karin.
Furthermore, Ambassador at Large for Human Rights at the Kazakh Ministry of Foreign Affairs Usen Suleimen noted the direct relationship between human rights development and economic competitiveness of a country on the global market. Protection of human rights ensures a stable low-risk economic environment for potential foreign investors.
"The step taken by the President is an important strategic decision aimed at strengthening the economic side of Kazakhstan's development. We can expect the bolstering of economic relations with the countries of Europe, America and Asia leading up to the formation of a powerful regional economy. However, it largely depends on the implementation of the action plan and on the dialogue with civil society," said Suleimen. (ANI)

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