What rights do the people of Kazakhstan enjoy?

The European Parliament,

- having regard to its resolution of 12 December 2017 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the enhanced partnership and cooperation agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Kazakhstan, of the other part ( 1) and its resolution of March 10, 2016 on freedom of expression in Kazakhstan (2),

- having regard to its non-legislative resolution of 12 December 2017 on the draft Council decision on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Union, of the enhanced partnership and cooperation agreement between the European Union and its Member States, of the one part, and the Republic of Kazakhstan, of the other part (3),

- having regard to its previous resolutions on Kazakhstan, including those of 18 April 2013 (4), 15 March 2012 (5), 15 March 2012 and 17 September 2009 on the Jevgenij Zhovtis case in Kazakhstan (6) ,

- having regard to the EU-Kazakhstan Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement signed in Astana on 21 December 2015,

- having regard to its resolutions of 15 December 2011 on the state of play of the EU Strategy for Central Asia (7) and of 13 April 2016 on the implementation and revision of the EU Central Asia Strategy (8),

- having regard to the Council Conclusions of 22 June 2015 and 19 June 2017 on the EU Strategy for Central Asia,

- having regard to the annual EU-Kazakhstan human rights dialogues,

- based on Rule 135 (5) and Rule 123 (4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas on 21 December 2015 the European Union and Kazakhstan signed an Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which serves as a broad framework for enhanced political dialogue and cooperation in the fields of justice, home affairs and many other areas should serve; whereas this agreement places great emphasis on democracy and the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, the principles of market economy and sustainable development, and cooperation with civil society, including their involvement in policy-making;

B. whereas Kazakhstan joined the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) in March 2012;

C. whereas the Government of Kazakhstan does not appear to have taken any steps to comply with the broad provisions of Article 174 of the Criminal Code prohibiting incitement to social, national or other conflicts, and Article 274 of the Criminal Code prohibiting disclosure Revise false information and instead continue to use these provisions as the basis for charges against civil society activists and journalists;

D. whereas the number of political prisoners in Kazakhstan has increased; whereas in 2016 peaceful demonstrations against changes to the land ownership law took place in several areas of Kazakhstan, arresting over 1000 demonstrators (including 55 journalists), 30 of whom were subsequently arrested; whereas the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has found that the arrests were arbitrary, that there were no fair trials and, in some cases, serious legal violations; whereas civil society activist Max Bokayev is serving a sentence for his rightful participation in this peaceful mass demonstration;

E. whereas the Government of Kazakhstan, while working with the International Labor Organization (ILO) high-level mission and committed to implementing a roadmap addressing the ILO's criticisms, has not taken any concrete steps to address the provisions Actually implement the roadmap such as the amendment to the Trade Union Act; whereas the Government of Kazakhstan has also failed to implement the earlier recommendations of the ILO Committee on the Application of Standards, which included reviewing the Trade Union Law and Labor Code and taking all necessary measures to enable the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Kazakhstan and its branch unions can enjoy full union rights;

F. whereas trade unionists Nýrbek Qýshaqbaev and Amin Eleusinov were released on parole in May 2018 but are still banned from union activities; whereas activist Larissa Kharkova is subject to similar restrictions and persistent harassment by the judiciary, and Shymkent union activist Erlan Baltabaı is under criminal investigation on questionable allegations;

G. whereas new legislation on non-governmental organizations has tightened the accounting rules for civil society organizations; whereas human rights organizations have to pay tax on grants from international donors;

H. whereas freedom of religion or belief has been seriously undermined; whereas religious beliefs are used by the authorities as a pretext for arbitrary detention; whereas Sáken Týlbaev was imprisoned on charges of inciting religious hatred;

I. whereas the peaceful opposition movement Democratic Election of Kazakhstan was banned by the authorities on 13 March 2018 and more than 500 people expressed their support for the Democratic Election of Kazakhstan in various ways; whereas civil society activist Almat Jumaǵulov and poet Kenjebek Ábishev fell victim to the struggle of the Kazakh authorities against the Democratic Election of Kazakhstan by sentencing them to eight and seven years' imprisonment, respectively; whereas Ablovas Jýmaev was sentenced to 3 years 'imprisonment and Áset Ábishev to 4 years' imprisonment for criticizing the state organs online and for supporting the democratic elections of Kazakhstan;

J. Whereas the right to freedom of association, although protected by the Kazakh Constitution, remains largely restricted in the country and the Public Associations Act still requires all public associations to register with the Ministry of Justice ; whereas new amendments to the law in December 2015 introduced burdensome reporting requirements and state regulation of funding through a government-appointed body; whereas those involved in unregistered organizations face administrative and criminal penalties;

K. whereas civil society activists and human rights defenders continue to face reprisals and restrictions in their activities, including human rights advocate Yelena Semyonova, who was banned from traveling for allegedly disseminating knowingly false information, and Shymkent activist Ardaq Áshim, who was accused of inciting conflict because of her critical posts on social media and who was forcibly committed to psychiatry; whereas during the European Parliament delegation's visit to Kazakhstan on 10 May 2018, the police used excessive force against peaceful demonstrators trying to meet with Members of the European Parliament; whereas more than 150 people have been arrested by the police and more than 30 demonstrators have been administrative detained; whereas on 17 and 18 September 2018 the Kazakh police arrested several activists who wanted to meet with members of the European Parliament delegation;

L. whereas in April 2018 new restrictive amendments to the Media and Information Act came into force, access to information on social media is still blocked and against Forbes Kazakhstan and ratel.kz for disseminating knowingly false information is criminally investigated; whereas the use of social networks is controlled and restricted by the authorities; whereas bloggers and social network users have been sentenced to prison terms, including Ruslan Ginatullin, Igor Chuprin and Igor Sychev; whereas blogger Muratbek Tungishbaev was extradited from Kyrgyzstan to Kazakhstan and ill-treated in Kazakhstan in grave violation of applicable law;

M. whereas impunity for torture and ill-treatment of prisoners and suspects remains common, despite the government's commitment not to tolerate torture; whereas the authorities have failed to credibly investigate allegations that torture was used in Jańaózen during the prolonged strike in the oil sector in 2011;

N. whereas the Almaty Public Prosecutor's Office has failed to find credible evidence of allegations that businessman Eskendir Erimbetov, who was sentenced to seven years in prison in October 2018 for large-scale fraud, was tortured; whereas in 2018 the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded that his arrest and detention were arbitrary, requested his release and expressed concern about the alleged torture during his pre-trial detention;

O. whereas widespread violence against women and traditional patriarchal norms and stereotypes are major obstacles to gender equality in Kazakhstan; whereas, according to non-governmental organizations, violence against women is not consistently reported and only a small proportion of cases of violence against women and sexual harassment are prosecuted;

P. whereas LGBTI people in Kazakhstan face legal problems and face discrimination; whereas same-sex sexual relations between men and women are legal in Kazakhstan, same-sex couples and households with same-sex couples as heads of household do not enjoy the same legal protections as married heterosexual couples;

Q. whereas Kazakhstan ranks 143rd out of 167 on the world democracy index, which means that the country is classified as an authoritarian regime;

1. Urges Kazakhstan to honor its international obligations and respect human rights and fundamental freedoms; calls on the Kazakh authorities to put an end to human rights violations and all forms of political repression, in accordance with the principles and Articles 1, 4, 5 and 235 of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement;

2. Stresses that the strengthening of political, economic and cultural ties between the EU and Kazakhstan must be based on shared commitments to universal values, in particular democracy, the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights; expects the agreement on enhanced partnership and cooperation to help strengthen the rule of law and democratic participation of all citizens, to make the political landscape more diverse, to bring about a better functioning, independent and impartial judiciary, to create more transparency in government action Expand government accountability and improve labor law;

3. Welcomes the fact that several political prisoners have been released, namely Vladimir Koslow, Gıýzıal Baıdalinova, Seıtkazy Mataev, Edige Batyrov, Erjan Orazalinov, Saıat Ibıraev, Áset Mataev, Zinaida Muhortova, Talǵat Aıan and the oil workers of Jańaózen and the oil workers of Jańaózen Qýshaqbaev, whose freedom of movement is still restricted; welcomes the decision to release Ardaq Áshim from psychiatric hospital; Condemns the admission to psychiatry as a brutal measure and as punitive psychiatry and calls for the end of the compulsory outpatient psychiatric treatment of Ardaq Áshim and all coercive medical measures against the activist Natalja Ulassik;

4. Calls for all activists and political prisoners currently in custody, in particular Mýhtar Jákishev, Max Bokajew, Eskendir Erimbetov, Aron Atabek, Sanat Bukenov, Mahambet Ábjan and Sáken Týlbaev, to be fully rehabilitated and released immediately, and for all restrictions on the freedom of movement of other people to be lifted ;

5. Urges the Government of Kazakhstan to amend Article 174 of the Criminal Code on “incitement to social, national, clan, racial, class or religious conflicts” so that it is only aimed at arbitrary and in violation of the To prevent human rights law enforcement measures being initiated, to amend Article 274 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits the dissemination of knowingly false information, and to release activists, journalists and other critical persons for whose detention these articles form the legal basis;

6. Urges the Government of Kazakhstan to end crackdown on independent trade unions and lift restrictions on trade union activity, end the politically motivated prosecution of trade union leaders, lift the convictions of Larissa Kharkova, Nýrbek Qýshaqbaev and Amin Eleusinov and allow them to resume theirs Allow union activity without government interference or harassment; Also urges the Government of Kazakhstan to address the European Parliament's concerns regarding the criminal investigation against Erlan Baltabaı and to revise the Trade Union Law of 2014 and the Labor Code of 2015 so that both are in line with ILO standards;

7. Urges the Government of Kazakhstan to implement the recommendations of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Assembly and Association and to revise the Law on Public Associations and Conditions for Access to Funding;

8. Urges the government of Kazakhstan to end all forms of arbitrary detention, reprisals and harassment against human rights defenders, civil society organizations and opposition movements, including actual or alleged supporters of the Democratic elections of Kazakhstan;

9. Urges the Government of Kazakhstan to review the amendments to the Media and Information Law that came into force this year, to introduce a moratorium on defamation charges, to take all steps necessary to pass the relevant articles of the new Criminal Code End defamation, set a cap on compensation for defamation convictions, end harassment and reprisals against journalists critical of the government, and stop blocking access to information both online and offline;


11. Points out that Kazakhstan is multi-ethnic and multi-religious and stresses that minorities and their rights must be protected, in particular with regard to the use of languages, freedom of religion and belief, as well as non-discrimination and equal opportunities; welcomes the peaceful coexistence of the different communities in Kazakhstan; Urges Kazakhstan to end the persecution of people for the legitimate exercise of freedom of conscience and religion; calls for those convicted of their beliefs to be released immediately;

12. Calls on the authorities to take action against all forms of violence against women; calls also for measures to ensure that reporting channels are effective and accessible, and for safeguards that respond to victims' needs and respect their discretion; calls for an end to impunity and for appropriate criminal sanctions to be put in place against the perpetrators;

13thinsists that the rights of LGBTI people be fully respected; calls on the government of Kazakhstan to ensure that LGBTI people are not discriminated against in any way;

14. Calls on Kazakhstan to fully implement the recommendations of the OSCE ODIHR international observation mission for the March 20, 2016 election that the country still has some work to do to deliver on its commitments to the OSCE on democratic elections; urges the Kazakh authorities to refrain from restricting the activities of independent candidates; also urges that citizens ’right to vote be respected;

15. Reaffirms the importance of EU-OSCE cooperation in improving good practice for democratic governance in the country, particularly in the areas of human rights and the rule of law; therefore urges the Kazakh authorities to expand the mandate of the OSCE in the country and, in particular, to renew the mandate of the OSCE Center in Astana, as it is an important prerequisite for further cooperation between the EU and Kazakhstan;

16. Calls on the EU, and in particular the European External Action Service (EEAS), to closely monitor developments in Kazakhstan, raise issues of concern with the Kazakh authorities if necessary, offer assistance and report regularly to Parliament; calls on the EU delegation in Astana to continue to actively monitor the situation and to discuss the issue of freedom of expression at all relevant bilateral meetings; Urges the EEAS to plan and conduct trial observation missions in advance to monitor politically sensitive judicial proceedings and politically motivated criminal trials and to ensure that the right to a fair trial applies to all;

17. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the EU Special Representative for Central Asia, the governments and parliaments of the Member States and the government and parliament of Kazakhstan to transfer.

(1) OJ C 369, 11.10.2018, p. 2.
(2) OJ C 50, 9.2.2018, p. 38.
(3) OJ C 369, 11.10.2018, p. 179.
(4) OJ C 45, 5.2.2016, p. 85.
(5) OJ C 251E, 31.8.2013, p. 93.
(6) OJ C 224E, 19.8.2010, p. 30.
(7) OJ C 168E, 14.6.2013, p. 91.
(8) OJ C 58, 15.2.2018, p. 119.