Library of Congress – Federal Research Division
Country Profile: Kazakhstan, December 2006
poses the terrorist threat as a pretext for domestic repression. In 2005 the Majlis banned the pan- Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir as a terrorist organization because of the group’s calls for an international Islamic government.
Human Rights: Government control of the media has increased in the early 2000s. Newspaper and broadcast reporters have been beaten and imprisoned when government corruption became a major focus of reporting. As an additional control, the government has restricted access to printing and distribution facilities. In 2004 President Nazarbayev approved a law restricting press coverage of elections, and media coverage of the Majlis elections of September 2004 was severely restricted. Monitors noted some improvement in press coverage of the 2005 presidential election. In 2005 incidents of harassment and violence toward the press remained common, however. Expression of political opposition is limited by improper electoral procedures (as noted by international monitors in each of the most recent four national elections) and restrictions on party registration. Prosecutors have very broad authority that negates the constitutional guarantee of a fair trial and has resulted in reversal of some trial verdicts. Police brutality is reported in prisons and in dealing with suspects. Prison conditions are very harsh. The constitution guarantees the right of assembly, but the Law on National Security has been used widely to label demonstrations and meetings as security threats. All public organizations must register with the Ministry of Justice. The vagueness of laws on nongovernmental organizations has been used to restrict the activity of such groups, and police harassment has been frequent. Kazakhstan has been the source, destination, and transit country for trafficking in people. According to estimates, in 2005 such incidents involved several thousand victims, mainly young women. Convictions for trafficking have been rare, and some involvement by corrupt law enforcement officials is assumed. Some 20,000 crimes against women, mainly in rural areas, were reported in 2005. Freedom of religion generally is protected, and religious organizations are not required to register. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Hare Krishna members have met local persecution, however.