An end to the death penalty in Kazakhstan
SRT grantee, the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law (The Bureau) has led advocacy efforts to abolish the death penalty in Kazakhstan since its formation in 1993. Finally, on June 24th 2022, they were able to celebrate that victory, as the death penalty was officially abolished.
Kazakhstan adopted the Second Optional Protocol of the ICCPR, and in December of 2021 approved and signed a bill which means that all crimes stipulating the death penalty in the country’s Criminal Code were replaced with life imprisonment when it came into force in June. Although Kazakhstan has had a moratorium on executions since 2003, (which is also when the last known executions took place), the death penalty was still retained for terrorism-related offences. There have been six death sentences given out since then, and the last person to have been given a death sentence was in 2016. All have since been commuted to life imprisonment.
The Bureau lobbied consistently in parliamentary working groups on this issue and prepared a note which was also considered directly by President Tokayev. Established in 1993, The Bureau is one of the longest-standing Kazakh human rights organisations. It is based in Almaty and has a presence in 12 of Kazakhstan’s 20 regions. Its focus is on the protection and promotion of civil and political rights in Kazakhstan through monitoring and publication of information about human rights violations; education on human rights standards; the provision of legal aid to vulnerable groups, and strategic litigation. It provides legal assistance to over 6000 people each year including stateless persons, asylum seekers, activists, journalists or others targeted by the authorities. The Bureau also carries out international advocacy, as well as engagement with the Kazakh authorities.
Kazakhstan’s historic ratification is part of a global trend away from capital punishment. Amnesty International’s 2021 annual Global Report on Death Sentences and Executions reported that, as of December 31, 2021, more than two-thirds of the world’s countries had abolished the death penalty in law or practice. 144 nations had either abolished the death penalty under the country’s constitution or laws or had not carried out an execution in more than a decade. 55 nations retained capital punishment.
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