08ASTANA1147, KAZAKHSTAN – EMBASSY INPUT FOR OSCE HUMAN

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08ASTANA1147 2008-06-18 06:29 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO1912
OO RUEHAST RUEHFL RUEHLA RUEHMRE RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR
DE RUEHTA #1147/01 1700629
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 180629Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2634
INFO RUCNOSC/OSCE POST COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 001147 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPARTMENT FOR EUR/RPM, SCA/CEN, AND DRL 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PHUM OSCE KDEM PREL KZ
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTAN - EMBASSY INPUT FOR OSCE HUMAN 
DIMENSION IMPLEMENTATION MEETING 
 
REF: STATE 60838 
 
1. (U) This cable constitutes post's input on Kazakhstan 
democracy and human rights concerns for demarches in 
preparation of the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation 
Meeting (HDIM). 
 
Democracy and Political Rights 
------------------------------ 
 
2. (SBU) When Kazakkhstan was selected as 2010 OSCE chairman 
at the November 2007 OSCE Madrid ministerial, Foreign 
Minister Tazhin publicly committed that Kazakhstan would 
undertake several democratic reforms.  Specifically, Tazhin 
said that by the end of 2008, Kazakhstan would amend its 
election and media legislation taking into account ODIHR 
recommendations, as well as liberalize registration 
requirements for political parties and media outlets.  The 
government has thus far taken some steps toward implementing 
these commitments, including establishing working groups, 
with civil society and opposition participation, to discuss 
amendments to the election and media legislation.  Though 
much work remains, there is more than sufficient time for 
Kazakhstan to follow through by year's end -- and we have 
been repeatedly assured by the government that it will do so. 
 We should continue to stress that failure to implement its 
Madrid commitments would undermine Kazakhstan's effectiveness 
in its role as OSCE chairman. 
 
Freedom of the Press 
-------------------- 
 
3. (SBU) While Kazakhstan's diverse print media includes a 
plethora of newspapers sharply critical of the government and 
of President Nazarbayev personally, the broadcast media 
largely maintains a pro-government line, with very limited 
coverage of the political opposition.  The government 
apparently blocked several opposition web-sites in late 2007 
for uploading recordings of embarrassing conversations 
between senior government officials (which were likely made 
by Nazarbayev's former son-in-law, Rakhat Aliyev, who was 
recently convicted in absentia of plotting a coup).  Access 
has not been restored to all of these sites.  In April 2008, 
the English- and Kazakh-language web-sites of Radio Free 
Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) became inaccessible to 
customers of Kazakhtelecom.  The government did not admit to 
actively blocking the RFE/RL sites, which became accessible 
again beginning in early June.  Journalists and editors 
remain subject to criminal penalties, including prison time, 
for libel, although criminal prosecutions are rare and no 
journalist has been jailed on libel charges in recent years. 
We expect that future amendments to Kazakhstan's media law 
(see above) will ease, though not eliminate, these criminal 
penalties. 
 
Freedom of Religion 
------------------- 
 
4. (SBU)  We remain concerned about a package of amendments 
to Kazakhstan's religion law under consideration in 
parliament which appear aimed at asserting greater government 
authority over so-called "non-traditional" religious groups, 
such as evangelical Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, Hare 
Krishnas, and Scientologists.  While the latest text 
represents an improvement over the original version, it 
retains a number of problematic provisions, including ones 
which would create a distinction between large and small 
religious groups, limiting the rights of the latter.  At the 
urging of the USG and our like-minded partners, the 
government submitted the original version to ODIHR for 
review.  ODIHR sent its comments to the Kazakhstanis on June 
10.  We have been reassured by senior officials that they 
will take into account ODIHR's recommendations in the final 
version of the amendments. 
 
5. (SBU) There has recently been a significant increase in 
negative media coverage of "non-traditional" religious groups 
which appears to have been orchestrated in part by the 
government, perhaps to lay the groundwork for the religion 
law amendments.  A long-running land dispute in Almaty oblast 
between local authorities and a Hare Krishna community 
remains unresolved; we should continue pressing for an 
equitable resolution. 
 
Trafficking in Persons 
---------------------- 
 
6. (SBU) We should commend Kazakhstan's progress in combating 
trafficking in persons, which resulted in Kazakhstan being 
 
ASTANA 00001147  002 OF 002 
 
 
upgraded from "Tier 2 Watchlist" to "Tier 2" in the 2008 
Trafficking in Persons Report.  Over the past year, 
Kazakhstan improved its efforts in convicting traffickers and 
sentencing them to prison time, in addressing official 
complicity in trafficking, and in assisting victims.  We want 
Kazakhstan to continue its forward movement on all fronts -- 
prosecution, protection, and prevention. 
 
Child Labor 
----------- 
 
7. (U) While Kazakhstani law prohibits the worst forms of 
child labor and the government is engaged in a number of 
efforts to combat it, NGOs report that ch
ild labor remains a 
serious problem, particularly in cotton and tobacco 
production, branches of agriculture in which large numbers of 
migrant workers from neighboring countries are employed. 
ORDWAY

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