BISHKEK (12 June 2019) – "Kazakhstan’s actions against peaceful protestors, activists and journalists during and after the presidential elections on 9 June are extremely regrettable", Mr Ryszard Komenda, Head of the UN Human Rights Office for Central Asia said on Tuesday. "The freedom of expression and peaceful assembly are the building blocks of successful and vibrant societies. Any attempt to restrict them unnecessarily and without proper justification constitute risks for stability and social cohesion."
On 9 and 10 June, various independent sources reported at least 1000 arrests of peaceful protesters – among them journalists – in Nur-Sultan, Almaty and Shymkent. Officials confirmed that 550 individuals were charged and penalized for "participating in an unauthorised assembly" – an administrative offence in Kazakhstan. The UN Human Rights Office was also made aware about numerous expedited court proceedings held on the premises of police stations, conducted at night and in many instances without the presence of defence lawyers.
The UN Human Rights Office is concerned about the significant scale of arrests and convictions for peaceful and legitimate expression of political opinion and dissent. "This is an apparent contradiction with Kazakhstan’s obligations under international human rights law" said Mr Komenda. "I urge Kazakhstan to fulfil its legal obligations to respect and protect the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, expression, and ensure the right to meaningful political participation".
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