Kazakhstan: the right to public protest

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee published a new report on the right to public protest in Kazakhstan, an essential part of the country’s obligation to ensure Freedom of Assembly and Association.

The report gives an overview of the issue as it has developed in Kazakhstan over the past several years, with additional information on the authorities’ current practice towards peaceful protesters, over three years after the tragedy in the western town of Zhanaozen, where police shot and killed at least twelve protesters in December 2011.

"We are particularly grateful to the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, who have provided access to their large archive of years of monitoring reports from protests all over the country," said Ivar Dale, Senior Adviser in the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.

Kazakhstan recently underwent an official visit from the UN Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Assembly and Association, whose recommendations to the government are expected later this year.

"As such, this is a perfect time for Kazakh authorities to examine their own policy, and to bring practice in line with their international human rights obligations, said Dale. Today, Kazakhstan practices a de facto ban on protests deemed political or controversial in the slightest sense of the word. This is not in keeping with the image the government seeks to portray of itself abroad, of Kazakhstan as a forward-looking, modern nation respectful of democratic principles. Positive change in this area would benefit the country tremendously," he added.