The Establishment of Kazakhstan's National Preventive Mechanism

Wednesday, February 10, 2010
The ongoing discussion on the establishment of Kazakhstan's NPM continued in the context of a two-day international conference devoted to the subject in Astana. Various organizations, including Penal Reform International's Office for Central Asia, co-sponsored this exchange in the Kazakh capital, Astana, on 15-16 February 2010, which was attended by more than 100 persons. For the very first time in Kazakhstan this type of event was attended by members of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention, Dr Marija Definis-Gojanovic and Dr Zdenek Hajek.

 

Date:
15 - 16 February 2010
Place:
Astana, Kazakhstan
Purpose:
To discuss the legal basis underpinning Kazakhstan's future National Preventive Mechanism.
Partners:

British Embassy Astana

Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Committee on Legislation and Legal Reform of the Majilis of Parliament

OSCE Centre in Astana

Penal Reform International's Office for Central Asia

Activities:

The ongoing discussion on the establishment of Kazakhstan's NPM continued in the context of a two-day international conference devoted to the subject in Astana. Various organizations, including Penal Reform International's Office for Central Asia, co-sponsored this exchange in the Kazakh capital, Astana, on 15-16 February 2010, which was attended by more than 100 persons. For the very first time in Kazakhstan this type of event was attended by members of the UN Subcommittee on Prevention, Dr Marija Definis-Gojanovic and Dr Zdenek Hajek.

During the event national and international actors analyzed a proposal by the Ministry of Justice to put in place an NPM. An inter-ministerial working group spear-headed by the Ministry of Justice has proposed that the country's civil society-comprised Public Monitoring Commissions be designated as the NPM. Public Monitoring Commissions operate in all 14 of Kazakhstan's oblasts (administrative areas) as well as in the cities of Almaty and Astana. The working group argued that through a process of legislative change these Public Monitoring Commissions could be put on an OPCAT compliant footing. Amendments would have to be made to a welter of existing laws to achieve such change.

Various civil society actors expressed concern about this proposal due to its various shortcomings in the light of the minimum requirements of the OPCAT text. The many shortcomings of the NPM proposal became immediately apparent during the event. The APT attended this important exchange and contributed to the discussion. The event represented just one of several such meetings which have taken place in recent years, in which the organization has participated.

Outcome:
It was envisaged that this most recent conference would push forward the process of establishing or designating an NPM in the country. As Kazakhstan ratified the OPCAT in October 2008, in theory, it had until November 2009 to put in place its NPM. As this important deadline had passed, the organizers of the event deemed it imperative that the loss of any more momentum was avoided and advances were made in this regard. Regrettably, as the conference revealed, Kazakhstan still has some way to go until it puts in place a genuine NPM. Nonetheless, during the event the various government representatives present repeatedly underlined that the NPM proposal was just a first draft and that they were willing to take on board various comments.
Next Steps:
In its present form the government's NPM proposal falls short of what is required by the OPCAT text, a fact which now seems to be well understood. This message was the key achievement of the conference and it can only be hoped that the authorities take on board this important message as they continue their deliberations in the coming months to put in place an OPCAT compliant NPM.
Documents:
Draft Agenda
Contact Person:
Matthew Pringle, APT Europe & Central Asia Programme Officer