Politics

Kazakhstan Announces Democratic & Humanitarian Reforms

The President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, has presented a new initiative consisting of a third package of political reforms aimed at increasing the institutional development of the political system in Kazakhstan and strengthening mechanisms for protecting human rights.

A statement by the Kazakhstan Foreign Ministry in the capital, Nur-Sultan, said yesterday that the implementation of this initiative will strengthen the system of protecting human rights, expanding civic participation, developing parliamentary policies and a multi-party system, and imparting more democracy to the country.

Regarding the Third package of political reforms, President Tokayev proposed the following reforms:

1.) Reduce the threshold for political parties to gain seats in the Mazhilis (lower house of parliament) from 7% to 5%

2.) After the introduction of elections of rural akims (Mayors) starting in 2021, Kazakhstan will then proceed to the election of district akims

3) Introduce the option “against all” in the ballots for all future elections

4.) Legally formalise the institution of online petitions

5.) Adopt an additional law on the Commissioner for Human Rights – the ombudsman (the law will streamline the activities of this institution in various areas and sectors)

6.) Strengthen the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights (including the creation of its regional offices)

7.) Implementation of the Youth Development Index to evaluate the efficiency of youth policy

8.) Provide measures to stimulate the activities of charities

The first package of reforms was presented at the meeting of the National Council of Public Trust on December 20, 2019. They were implemented ahead of the parliamentary elections which took place on 10 January, 2021.

The reforms include:

  • The registration barrier for creating political parties was halved
  • A 30 percent quota was introduced for women and youth on electoral party lists
  • The institution of parliamentary opposition was formalised and strengthened
  • The decriminalisation of Article 130 (defamation) and the humanisation of Article 174 (inciting social discord) of the Criminal Code were initiated
  • A new law on assemblies was implemented, which made it easier to organise and participate in rallies
  • Kazakhstan joined the Second Optional Protocol of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, abolishing the death penalty

The second package of political reforms was put forward by President Tokayev on September 1, 2020, in his Address to the people of Kazakhstan. The reforms include:

  • The transition to direct elections of rural akims (Mayors) from 2021
  • It was instructed to develop a Concept for the Development of Local Self-Government and the Law “On Public Control”
  • Creation of a single institution for online petitions
  • The need was established to improve legislation to combat torture, human trafficking, and protect citizens (especially children) from cyberbullying
  • Tasked to accede to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on a Communications Procedure

(End)

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