Oral statement Kazakhstan UPR outcome
On 12 March 2020, Lawyers for Lawyers and the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute delivered an oral statement during the 43rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council. During this session, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Outcome Report of Kazakhstan was adopted. Lawyers for Lawyers had already submitted a NGO-submission for the UPR-session of Kazakhstan.
We welcome the decision of Kazakhstan to accept some of the recommendations related to the legal profession, made at its 3rd UPR. We call on Kazakhstan to effectively implement these recommendations without delay.
Protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms requires effective access to legal services provided by an independent legal profession. Fundamental to improving human rights for the people in Kazakhstan is a justice system that allows lawyers to work independently without fear of harassment or intimidation.
According to our information, lawyers in Kazakhstan have been subjected to improper interference and harassment amongst others by the Ministry of Justice, members of the law enforcement agencies, investigative bodies, the judiciary as well as the bar association itself.
Lawyers working on sensitive cases are reportedly often pressured and intimidated to drop those cases. Their right to access and privately consult with their detained clients is often restricted.
Lawyers expressing critical views on social medias are reportedly subjected to, or threatened with, prosecution or disciplinary sanctions. Mr Amanzhol Mukhamedyarov, the Chair of the Lawyer’s Rights Committee, and Mr Erlan Gazumzhanov, a lawyer from Nur-Sultan, have recently been disbarred upon the request of the Ministry of Justice, as a form of reprisal for expressing critical positions. A life-time disbarment is a disproportionate sanction with a chilling effect on the whole profession.
We urge Kazakhstan to:
- uphold its commitment and take immediate measures to ensure the full independence of lawyers and their effective protection against any form of undue interference in their work, including their disbarment or other disciplinary actions on illegitimate grounds;
- reinstate the licences of lawyers Amanzhol Mukhamedyarov and Erlan Gazumzhanov; and
- respect and promote the role of the Republican bar association in protecting its members from persecution and improper restrictions and infringements.
The full statement can be read here.
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