09ASTANA436, GOVERNMENT OF KAZAKHSTAN HAS FIRST EVER DIALOGUE WITH CIVIL

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ASTANA436 2009-03-12 08:29 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO7382
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK
RUEHKW RUEHLA RUEHLH RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHNEH RUEHNP RUEHPOD RUEHPW
RUEHROV RUEHSK RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHTA #0436/01 0710829
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 120829Z MAR 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4877
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 1344
RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0723
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1426
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0410
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 0905
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 0818
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEHAST/USOFFICE ALMATY 1303

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 000436 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, DRL/PHD 
STATE PLEASE PASS TO USAID 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM EAID KZ
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT OF KAZAKHSTAN HAS FIRST EVER DIALOGUE WITH CIVIL 
SOCIETY ON NEW LEGAL STRATEGY 
 
ASTANA 00000436  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
1. (U) Sensitive but unclassified.  Not for public Internet. 
 
2. (U) SUMMARY:  On February 23, USAID implementing partner Freedom 
House held a roundtable in Almaty with senior governmental officials 
and prominent non-governmental organizations working on human rights 
and the media.  The round-table participants included a rare mixing 
of high-level government officials and civil society leaders.  They 
discussed a new 10 year Legal Policy Strategy for Kazakhstan since 
the current Strategy is set to expire at the end of 2009.  The new 
Strategy will serve as a road map for legislative reform initiatives 
over the next 10 years.  The round-table participants stressed the 
need for the Strategy to reflect fundamental principles of 
international law in the field of basic human rights and freedoms. 
They highlighted a number of practical areas that should be 
reflected in the Strategy, and agreed that the next roundtable will 
take place at the end of April in Astana.  END SUMMARY. 
 
THE CONCEPT BACKGROUND 
 
3. (U) The current Strategy was developed in 2002 and set out major 
new directions for the development of Kazakhstan's legal system. 
During subsequent years, a range of important legislative acts were 
adopted by the Government of Kazakhstan which promoted the 
development of civic and governmental institutions in accordance 
with the new political, social, and economic priorities of the 
country.  These acts included the reform of major areas of national 
legislation such as constitutional, civic, financial, banking, tax, 
customs, criminal, and administrative law.  Overall, 372 laws 
including 110 separate thematic laws were passed by the Government. 
 
4.  (U) As Kazakhstan seeks to further integrate into international 
markets and increase its influence on the world stage, the new 10 
year Strategy will build on ideas from the current Strategy, but 
supplement it with regulations aimed at the further creation of a 
favorable environment for a strong market economy and the 
development of a solid investment base in Kazakhstan.  Unlike the 
current Strategy, the new Strategy will also focus on criminal 
justice and judicial reform, international obligations and human 
rights, as well as on fighting governmental corruption, including a 
draft law on lobbying. 
 
THE ROUND-TABLE EVENT 
 
5. (U) Demonstrating a rarely seen commitment to discussions with 
civil society leaders, high-level government officials attended the 
February 23 event and actively engaged their civic counterparts. 
The government participants included Igor Rogov, Chairman of the 
Constitutional Council, Kairat Mami, Chief Justice of the Supreme 
Court, Serik Baymagambetov, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee 
on Legislative Affairs, Nurgali Belisbekov, Deputy Head of the 
National Security Committee, and Alexander Savankov, Vice Minister 
of Internal Affairs. 
 
6. (U) Representatives of the most prominent NGOs attended as well, 
including the Charter for Human Rights, the Kazakhstan International 
Bureau for Human Rights, the Institute for Legal Policy, the Almaty 
Helsinki Committee, and the Adil Soz International Freedom of Speech 
Foundation.  In addition to USAID, which was represented by its 
Democracy and Conflict Mitigation Office, participants from 
international organizations included Jeanette Kloetzer, Deputy Head 
of the OSCE Center, and Dmitri Nurmanov, OSCE Coordinator on Rule of 
Law Issues in Central Asia. 
 
7. (U) During the roundtable, the participants unanimously agreed 
that Kazakhstani government decisions and actions must be in line 
with and supportive of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by 
Kazakhstan's Constitution.  They also reached a consensus that 
legally permissible limitations on constitutional rights may only be 
invoked in extreme cases, and then only when sufficient 
justification for such limitations exist.  In addition, the group 
agreed that the development of detailed criteria was necessary for 
circumscribing instances in which citizens' rights may be limited by 
governmental bodies.  (COMMENT: Current Kazakhstani law allows 
government officials to interpret the law subjectively, opening the 
door to greater limitations on constitutional rights.  END COMMENT.) 
 
ASTANA 00000436  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
 
 
8. (U) Participants also discussed the need for the Strategy to 
incorporate principl
es of non-discrimination, transparency of the 
decision-making process, and the swift and timely administrative or 
judicial review of appeals filed against court decisions.  There was 
an important and lively discussion on the need for limitations on 
rights and freedoms to be proportional to the legal aim for which 
they are required.  Civil society representatives were particularly 
pleased with this discussion, because they believe that the 
government has shown a bias towards measures that involve greater 
limitations on rights. 
 
9. (U) The participants agreed that the Strategy should include a 
chapter dedicated to Kazakhstan's international commitments as well 
as the means that will be employed to implement the recommendations 
of the UN's Human Rights Council, the UN's Committee Against 
Torture, and the OSCE's Office of Democratic Institutions and Human 
Rights (ODIHR).  They also discussed and decided to include in the 
Strategy positions regarding anti-discrimination legislation, 
legislation related to refugees, access to information, protection 
of privacy and personal data, and a law on the Ombudsman that would 
conform to the Paris Principles.  (COMMENT:  The Paris Principles 
set forth recommendations on the responsibilities of the human 
rights ombudsmen, including the means for their ensuring 
independence and the methods for their operation.  END COMMENT.) 
 
10. (U) Participants also discussed inclusion of proposals to 
improve criminal proceedings.  There was agreement that all 
defendants should have a reasonable opportunity to present their 
cases under conditions that do not place them at a disadvantage 
vis-a-vis their adversaries.  They also discussed provisions to 
further liberalize criminal legislation, including decriminalizing 
offenses that do not pose serious threats to the public. 
 
11. (SBU) COMMENT:  The roundtable was the first-ever platform to 
exchange ideas among government officials, non-governmental 
organizations, and the international community on this important 
Strategy document.  There was general agreement on the direction of 
the Strategy, and all participants seemed quite satisfied with the 
day's results.  Since much of the Strategy is at odds with more 
restrictive laws currently winding their way through Parliament 
(such as the draft Internet law), it remains to be seen what will be 
the Strategy's end result.  Regardless, it is an encouraging step 
that the Government of Kazakhstan was willing to listen and accept 
recommendations from civil society on the creation of laws in such 
sensitive areas.  Moreover, to the best of our knowledge, this was 
the first time that a senior KNB representative sat down in a public 
forum with civil society NGOs.  While the KNB representative may 
have sat in silence, his presence was ground-breaking.  END COMMENT. 
 
 
HOAGLAND

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