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Kazakhstan: first official visit by UN expert on freedoms of peaceful assembly and association

GENEVA (16 January 2015) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai will visit Kazakhstan from 19 to 27 January 2015 to assess the enjoyment of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association in the country.

Mr. Kiai’s visit is the first information-gathering mission to Kazakhstan by an independent expert tasked by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and promote the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association worldwide.

“The rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association are essential components of democracy and development, and States have a duty to fully respect and protect these rights,” the independent expert stated.

“During my visit, I will look into both the legal requirements for holding peaceful assemblies, and how peaceful assemblies are facilitated in practice,” he said. “I will look into the issues related to the registration of public associations, trade unions, political parties and religious organizations, as well as on the existence of an enabling environment for the free and effective functioning of civil society.”

“I will also gather information on how recently adopted legislation, in particular the new Criminal Code and the Code on Administrative Offences, has impacted the enjoyment of freedom of peaceful assembly and association,” he noted. 

Mr. Kiai, who is visiting the country at the invitation of the Kazakh authorities, will travel to Astana, Almaty and Aktau/Zhanaozen, where he will meet with representatives from the Government, the judiciary and civil society organisations.

The expert’s visit takes place after the latest assessment of the situation of human rights in Kazakhstan through the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process, which involves an evaluation of the human rights records of all UN Member States.

“This represents a good opportunity to follow up in a broader context the recommendations made during the UPR and other UN human rights mechanisms,” Mr. Kiai noted. 

The Special Rapporteur will share his preliminary findings and recommendations with the media at a press conference on Tuesday 27 January at 11:00 am at the United Nations Building, Astana, Bukeykhan Str., 26, 2nd floor conference-room.

The expert will present a final report of his visit at the June session of the Human Rights Council.

Mr Maina Kiai (Kenya) took up his functions as the first Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association on May 2011. He is appointed in his personal capacity as an independent expert by the UN Human Rights Council.  Learn more, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/AssemblyAssociation/Pages/SRFreedomAssemblyAssociationIndex.aspx

The Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms of the Human Rights Council that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

UN Human Rights, Country Page – Kazakhstan: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Countries/ENACARegion/Pages/KZIndex.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact:
In Geneva (before and after the mission): Thibaut Guillet (+41 22 917 93 89 / tguillet@ohchr.org) or Karen Blanc (+41 22 917 94 00 / kblanc@ohchr.org) or write to freeassembly@ohchr.org.
In Astana (during the mission): Leila Duisekova (+7 7172 69 65 50, ext. 2293 / leila.duisekova@undp.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts in Geneva:
Xabier Celaya, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+ 41 22 917 9383 / xcelaya@ohchr.org)  

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