09ASTANA778, KAZAKHSTAN: HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL’S ACTION PLAN LAYS OUT

WikiLeaks Link

To understand the justification used for the classification of each cable, please use this WikiSource article as reference.
Discussing cables
If you find meaningful or important information in a cable, please link directly to its unique reference number. Linking to a specific paragraph in the body of a cable is also possible by copying the appropriate link (to be found at theparagraph symbol).Please mark messages for social networking services like Twitter with the hash tags #cablegate and a hash containing the reference ID e.g. #09ASTANA778.
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09ASTANA778 2009-05-06 02:13 2011-08-30 01:44 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Astana

VZCZCXRO7240
OO 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 #0778/01 1260213
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 060213Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY ASTANA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 5342
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE 1555
RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEHVV/ISLAMIC COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0932
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 1635
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 2308
RHEBAAA/DEPT OF ENERGY WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFAAA/DIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC 1117
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC 1033
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ASTANA 000778 
 
SENSITIVE 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR SCA/CEN, DRL 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: PGOV PREL PHUM KDEM OSCE KZ
SUBJECT:  KAZAKHSTAN:  HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL'S ACTION PLAN LAYS OUT 
AMBITIOUS PRIORITIES 
 
1.  (U) Sensitive but unclassified.  Not for public Internet. 
 
2.  (SBU) SUMMARY:  On April 14, Kazakhstan's Presidential Human 
Rights Commission (HRC) unveiled its National Human Rights Action 
Plan for 2009-2012.  The Action Plan, the first one the Kazakhstani 
government has ever issued, outlines 26 areas in which the country's 
human rights framework lags behind international standards and 
proposes ambitious recommendations on how the government could bring 
them up to par.  Among other proposals, the Action Plan recommends 
further liberalization to the recently-amended laws on political 
parties, elections, and the media, and proposes significant changes 
to the country's legislation governing religion, public assembly, 
and the right to privacy.  The document was drafted with the input 
of several leading human-rights NGOs, and civil society leaders 
welcomed it as a tool to push the government towards further 
reforms.  END SUMMARY. 
 
AMBITIOUS PLAN UNVELIED 
 
3.  (SBU) On April 14, the Presidential Human Rights Commission 
(HRC) unveiled a National Human Rights Action Plan for 2009-2012 at 
an invitation-only meeting.  This is the first time that the 
Kazakhstani government developed a synthesized plan for improving 
the human rights situation in the country.  The Action Plan is based 
on the HRC's 2007 Baseline Human Rights Report, which analyzed 
Kazakhstan's legal framework for human rights against international 
standards.  In the foreword to the Action Plan, the HRC states that 
the purpose of the document is to inform President Nazarbayev, the 
Cabinet, and the Parliament on the human rights situation in the 
country and to "lay out the priorities in addressing human rights 
issues, involve the government and civil society in their 
resolution, and coordinate the action of national human rights 
institutions."  The Action Plan is now before President Nazarbayev, 
who is expected to sign it shortly.  We expect it to be released 
publicly once he signs it.  It is possible that changes will be 
incorporated into the final released version. 
 
4.  (SBU) Drafted with input from several leading human rights NGOs, 
including the Human Rights Bureau and the Almaty Helsinki Committee, 
the 177-page document candidly identifies numerous gaps in 
Kazakhstan's human rights legislative framework and lays out 
ambitious recommendations on how to address them within the 
three-year timeframe.  The Action Plan's twenty-six chapters deal 
with the full spectrum of political, civil, social, and cultural 
rights, ranging from the right to life (which includes 
socio-economic rights), to the right to a fair trial, to the rights 
of minorities.  Perhaps most notably, the Action Plan makes several 
concrete suggestions on how to further improve the laws on political 
parties, the media, and elections -- the three laws that were 
recently amended as part of Kazakhstan's Madrid commitments -- and 
proposes several legislative changes that, if adopted, could open up 
the country's political space. 
 
FURTHER CHANGES TO THE MADRID LEGISLATION 
 
5.  (SBU) Freedom of Association:  The Action Plan recommends that 
the government streamline the procedures for registering public 
organizations and NGOs and clarify the rules governing citizens' 
rights to found or join organizations.  Notably, it also recommends 
further liberalization of registration for political parties, 
although it does not lay out specific proposals on how to do so. 
 
6.  (SBU) Freedom of Speech:  The Action Plan recommends that by 
2011, the government further improve and streamline the process of 
media-outlet registration, adopt a new law on access to government 
information, decriminalize libel, and institute a statute of 
limitations on libel cases. 
 
7.  (SBU) Freedom of Political Participation:  The Action Plan 
proposes that Kazakhstan's election law be further amended to lower 
the minimum number of signatures necessary to register a political 
party from 40,000 to 35,000; to lower the electoral threshold for a 
party to get seats in parliament from seven percent of the vote to 
five percent; and to require that representatives of opposition 
 
ASTANA 00000778  002 OF 002 
 
 
parties be able to participate in election commissions at all 
levels. 
 
STRENGTHENING OF CIVIL AND POLITICAL RIGHTS 
 
8.  (SBU) Right to Privacy:  Drafted by the Yevgeniy Zhovtis, head 
of the Human Rights Bureau, this section points out that despite the 
existence of privacy-protection norms in Kazakhstan's legislation, 
the right to privacy for individuals is frequently violated by 
various government agencies, particularly the police, the Procurator 
General's Office, and the Customs Service.  The Action Plan 
recommends that by 2011 the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and the 
Procurator General's Office draft, with input from civil society and 
the OSCE, a separate privacy-protection law that corresponds to 
international standards. 
 
9.  (SBU) Religious Freedom:  The section on freedom of conscience, 
drafted by Almaty Helsinki Committee head Ninel Fokina, argues that 
under the current legal framework, religious groups face far more 
restrictions than other legal entities.  It also asserts that the 
requirement that all religious organizations be registered with the 
government is counter to international standards.  The Action Plan 
recommends that the MOJ, in collaboration with NGOs, begin 
publishing annual reports on the status of religious freedom in the 
country.  It also proposes that by 2011, Kazakhstan should amend its 
religious legislation to bring it in line with the International 
Covenant on Civil and Political Freedoms. 
 
10.  (SBU) Freedom of Assembly:  The Action Plan points to several 
legal norms that contradict international standards on peaceful 
gatherings, specifically the requirement that all public meetings 
must be approved by local authorities and the fact that the 
authorities have the power to designate where those meetings can be 
held (which usually means on the outskirts of the locale).  It also 
criticized the lack of clear legal definitions of the different 
kinds of public gatherings - i.e., rallies, marches, pickets, and 
demonstrations -- each of which has a different purpose and should 
therefore be guided by different rules.  To resolve these problems, 
the Action Plan recommends that a new law on public assemblies be 
adopted by the end of 2010. 
 
CIVIL SOCIETY SEES PLAN AS A "LEVER" FOR REFORM 
 
11.  (SBU) Civil society activists welcomed the HRC's Action Plan. 
Almaty Helskinki Committee head Fokina, who is a member of the HRC, 
told us that the Action Plan's recommendations, although not 
binding, can nonetheless be used "as levers" to push the government 
towards further reform.  "Once the President adopts the Plan, we can 
begin hounding the agencies," she said.  Yevgeny Zhovtis, who is 
also on the HRC, shared his belief that the Action Plan "is far from 
perfect," but is nevertheless an example that the government is 
willing to engage with civil society on particular issues.  As 
evidence, he pointed out that the HRC Secretariat adopted his 
contribution to the Action Plan without any changes.  Zhovtis was 
doubtful that all the recommendations will be put into action before 
2011.  In his opinion, however, the Action Plan's greatest asset 
lies in the fact that it clearly outlines Kazakhstan's goals and 
"shows the way" to achieving them.  "Even if just some of the 
recommendations are adopted, it would mark a serious step towards 
reconciling Kazakhstan's legislation and international standards," 
he said. 
 
12. (SBU) COMMENT:  We agree with civil society leaders Fokina and 
Zhovtis that the Action Plan is a very positive step, and can be 
used as a tool to press for reform in a number of key areas.  It is 
highly unlikely that all the recommendations will be adopted, but 
even if just some of them are, this would represent significant 
progress.  The fact that the HRC reports to the President is an 
indication that the broad contours of the Action Plan enjoy support 
by at least some key officials in the Presidential Administration. 
END COMMENT. 
 
MILAS

Wikileaks

Advertisements
Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: