KAZAKHSTAN: DO NOT PASS POORLY PREPARED LAW ON PUBLIC PROTEST DURING COVID-19 CRISIS
We, the undersigned members of the Civic Solidarity Platform (CSP) urge authorities in Kazakhstan to reconsider the passing of the revised law on procedures for organizing and holding peaceful assemblies in the Republic of Kazakhstan.
We urge the authorities to carefully consider the recommendations provided by representatives of civil society in Kazakhstan, including the detailed analysis of the draft law submitted by the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law (KIBHR) as well as those of the International Centre for Non-Profit Law.
We urge the authorities to study all relevant international standards, OSCE/ODIHR Guidelines, Draft of the General Comment #37 and cases concerning Kazakhstan from the UN Human Rights Committee as well as the final report of Mr. Maina Kiai, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, who carried out an official visit to Kazakhstan in 2015.
We also urge the authorities to send this Law for review either to the OSCE/ODIHR Panel of Experts on Freedom of Assembly and Association or to the Office of UN High Commissioner on Human Rights while both announced readiness to conduct such review, or to the Venice Commission of Council of Europe.
Finally, we are deeply concerned that authorities seem to be pushing to pass the law while Kazakhstan and indeed the world is in the midst of a global pandemic, which greatly limits the possibility of the public to exercise the very right this law concerns: Freedom of assembly.
The Law is generally not compliant with international human rights standards and there are severe and unjustified restraints on time and place, and burdens placed on the organizers of assemblies, in particular:
- retention of the requirement to obtain government approval prior to conducting peaceful meetings including permission to hold marches and demonstrations;
- extensive requirements for submitting notification and permit applications;
- assemblies (except picketing) remain permitted only in specialized places, as identified by local authorities;
- only Kazakhstani citizens, aged 18 years or older, are permitted to organize and participate in peaceful assemblies;
- an extensive list of reasons for local authorities to reject the conduct of peaceful assemblies;
- a burdensome list of responsibilities and increased liability for organizers and participants of peaceful assemblies;
- prohibition on conducting “spontaneous” assemblies.
Freedom of Assembly and Association has been a constant issue in Kazakhstan over several years. The right to carry out peaceful, public protest is a vital part of any modern democracy and should no longer be denied citizens of Kazakhstan. The rights enshrined in the Constitution must be respected in practice, without the imposition of regulations that appear to be designed still to curb this constitutional right.
Kyrgystan February 2020
Statement by members of the Civic Solidarity Platform
This statement is an expression of support for the members of civil
society in Kyrgyzstan who want to maintain an open climate for the
work of their organizations, and who are concerned about proposals to
impose excessive reporting and control requirements on civil society
organizations. The statement is issues by members of the Civic
Solidarity Platform, a network of civil society organizations from
across the OSCE region.
At the end of December 2019, the Parliament of Kyrgyzstan (Jogorku
Kenesh) published a draft law on the parliament’s website on amending
several laws affecting noncommercial organizations (NCOs), including
the Law on NCOs and the Law on State Registration of Legal Entities,
Branches (representative offices) (hereinafter - the draft law) for
public discussion. The draft law № 6-2328/20 as of February 6th,
2020, introduces additional reporting requirements for NCOs.
Specifically, in addition to the annual income and expenses reports,
NCOs will need to detail the sources of its funding, the size and
structure of its income and expenditures, the value of its assets and
the number of employees. Further, NCOs will be required to publish
this report on the website of the Ministry of Justice of the Kyrgyz
Currently, NCOs, as well as commercial organizations, regularly submit
three reports to state bodies in the Kyrgyz Republic: the tax
authorities, the Social Fund, and the statistics bodies. The
information provided in these reports will be duplicated, largely, in
the proposed new draft law.
Moreover, the draft law proposes a rule that "The form and procedure
for providing information shall be determined by the Government of the
Kyrgyz Republic." This situation creates the possibility and risk that
new reporting may become excessive and unduly burdensome. The reality
in the Kyrgyz Republic is that the procedure for drafting, adopting
and implementing laws and regulations is non transparent, with limited
access for NCOs and active citizens during the discussion process. In
this regard, there is a risk that the new reporting requirements may
become unreasonably burdensome for both the government and NCOs, when
they are not tied to real risks, and could serve a political goal of
limiting the activities of NCOs and civil society as a whole and it
will contribute to the shrinking of the space for the civil society in
Later in January 2020, other amendments to the Tax Code were proposed
by some Members of the Jogorku Kenesh, ostensibly, in order to
strengthen state tax oversight specifically over the NCOs.
The adoption of the draft laws will grant the authorities excessive
rights to control and supervise the activities of civil society. Civil
society of Kyrgyzstan believes that these legislative initiatives that
are imposing excessive reporting and control requirements on civil
society organizations and expanding government tax control over the
accounting management and financial reporting of NCOs, would run afoul
of freedom of association guaranteed by the Article 35 of Kyrgyzstan’s
Constitution, the Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights, as well as the Article 8 of the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, to which Kyrgyzstan
is a party.
Kyrgyzstan has a well-deserved reputation as one of the most
progressive countries in Central Asia and the CIS in ensuring and
protecting fundamental human rights and freedoms, and in creating a
legal environment where civil society assists parliament and the
government in carrying out their fundamental mission of improving the
lives of citizens and furthering the respect for human rights and
democratic freedoms in the country .
Unfortunately, the provisions of the draft law undermine and would
reverse Kyrgyzstan's efforts in this area and weaken its ability to
develop human resources, attract foreign investment, and enjoy the
support of its citizens and the international community to maintain
Kyrgyzstan's sustainable position as a democratic state.
The undersigned Civic Solidarity Platform members appeal to the Kyrgyz
authorities to stay within the course of cooperation with civil
society. The organizations urge Kyrgyzstan to withdraw the above
mentioned draft laws as it contradicts to the State’s domestic and
international obligations. It also is seen as non-sovereign and
non-domestically grown idea, as civil society and government relations
in Kyrgyzstan are developing in very dynamic and non-confrontational
manner. Hence, the agenda of limiting civil society space is something
that contradicts the positive partnership tradition of cooperation
between the government and NCOs in Kyrgyzstan. This is another reason
why this attempt of limiting civil society space should be dropped