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05ALMATY1595 2005-04-22 01:33:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY US Office Almaty
Cable title:  

KAZAKHSTANI PARLIAMENT CONSIDERS TROUBLING PACKAGE

Tags:   PGOV PREL KDEM PHUM PINR KZ POLITICAL 
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					  UNCLAS  ALMATY 001595 

SIPDIS


STATE FOR EUR/CACEN (JMUDGE), DRL/IRF (NHEWETT),and DRL/PHD
(PDAVIS)

SENSITIVE

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM PHUM PINR KZ POLITICAL
SUBJECT: KAZAKHSTANI PARLIAMENT CONSIDERS TROUBLING PACKAGE
OF NATIONAL SECURITY AMENDMENTS ON NATIONAL SECURITY

Ref: A) Almaty 1501, B) Almaty 1559



1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The Mazhilis (lower house of Parliament)
is currently considering a set of national security
amendments that continues the regressive trend of the recent
Law on Extremism and amendments to the Elections Law. The
draft legislation would set new limits on, inter alia,
freedom of association and assembly, freedom of the press,
freedom of peaceful expression of religious belief, and
privacy rights. Kazakhstani government officials have
publicly and privately defended this wave of restrictions as
necessary to ensure national security. Legal experts
generally agree, however, that the draft legislation is for
the most part duplicative, and gives unnecessarily broad,
ambiguously-defined powers to the government at the expense
of citizens' rights. END SUMMARY

TIMELINE


--------------------------




2. (SBU) The National Security amendments were drafted by
the Ministry of Justice and delivered to the Mazhilis on
February 24 for review. The Mazhilis Committee on
International Affairs, Defense and Security is currently
discussing the package and voting on changes. There are
reports that debate on these amendments will be heard during
the joint meeting of the Mazhilis and the Senate on April
26, effectively putting them on a fast-track.

SCOPE OF THE AMENDMENTS


--------------------------




3. (SBU) Due to the level of alarm among human rights
observers in Kazakhstan, ODIHR rushed to produce an
assessment of the draft amendments. The assessment,
released on April 18, states that the national security
amendments lack a "thematic focus," and are rife with the
type of definitional ambiguities noted in the Extremism Law
and Election Law amendments. The package contains
amendments to the following: the Criminal Code, the Code of
Criminal Procedure, the Code of Civil Procedure, the
Administrative Code, the Law on State Registration of Legal
Entities ("Registration Law"), the Law on Administrative
Control over Persons Released from Jails, the Law on
Political Parties, the Law on Mass Media, the Law on Non-
Commercial Organizations ("NCO Law") and the Law on
Religious Freedom and Religious Associations ("Religion
Law"). In all, there are more than 100 amended subsections
spread out over 22 separate articles within the laws above.

FREEDOM OF RELIGION


--------------------------




4. (SBU) The amendments contain many troubling provisions.
The most serious would impose restrictions on previously
tolerated religious activity such as education and
missionary work. The draft amendments would also give
courts broader powers to suspend the activities of religious
groups and ultimately "dissolve" those groups. Under the
proposed changes, religious groups would be required to
register with the government, as would foreign missionaries,
whose activities would be limited. There are many
ambiguities in the amendments and most material terms are
undefined. Both clerical and nonclerical religious
education would come under tighter state control and all
facilities offering religious education would be required to
register. Under an amendment to the Administrative Code,
participation in or contribution to an unregistered
religious organization would be a fineable offense.

POLITICAL PARTIES


--------------------------





5. (SBU) Under new amendments to the Administrative Code,
Political Parties would be forbidden from receiving funding
from foreign organizations or individuals; foreign donors
would be liable to fines. Political parties would be
require to publish an annual financial statement and the
heads of noncompliant parties would be personally liable.
Participation in or contributing money to an unregistered
political party, or any unregistered public association,
would be illegal and incur a fine.




6. (SBU) Proposed amendments to the Political Party Law
would give broader latitude for the GOK to deny registration
of a party. Registration would be refused if the party
violated legal procedures for establishing a party or has
not submitted a list of party members and a list of
constituent branch offices with an organizational chart and
a party would be barred from reapplication for three months.
The power to suspend a registered political party's
activities would be extended to the procuracy, pending
decision by a court. In addition to the grounds already
enumerated in the Political Party Law, registered parties
would be subject to liquidation for accepting prohibited
contributions. Any donations to political parties found by
a court to be prohibited would become state assets.
Political parties would be required to issue an annual
financial statement to be published in mass media.

PRIVACY RIGHTS


--------------------------





7. (SBU) An amendment to the Law on Operative Investigative
Activity would broaden the authority of allows law
enforcement officials to intercept communications by giving
them the right to search internet, wireless and all other
networked data pursuant to a write from a procurator.,
within the scope of their investigative powers. Currently,
law enforcement officials are able to intercept written and
telephonic communications intercepts by law enforcement are
done pursuant to a writ from a procurator, not a court; in
cases of "emergency," law enforcement can proceed with the
intercept and alert the Procuracy within three days. These
procedures would presumably apply to networkedelectronic
intercepts as well. Under a separate amendment,
iIndividuals convicted of "crimes of an extremist nature"
would be subject to administrative control after their
release from prison., under a separate amendment.

MEDIA AND FREE SPEECH


--------------------------





8. (SBU) Amendments to the Mass Media Law prohibit the
disclosure of state secrets, as well as publication of
"propaganda," articles praising or justifying terrorism and
extremism, articles promoting drugs or drug use, and
pornography. Publication of such information would be
grounds for suspension of the broadcast or print media
outlet. A further amendment grants procurators the right to
suspend media publication, though the right to close a media
outlet remains vested in the courts and at the election of
the outlet's owners. Grounds for closure include the
following: promoting violent regime change, "violating the
integrity of the Republic of Kazakhstan," undermining
national security, justifying extremism or terrorism, and
failing to remedy issues causing a prior suspension.

NGOs AND OTHER NON-COMMERCIAL ORGANIZATIONS


--------------------------





9. (SBU) An amendment to the Law on Non-Commericial
Organizations (NCOs) requires financial reporting from those
receiving funding from foreign governments, foreign
organizations, foreign citizens and stateless persons. Non-
governmental organizations (NGOs) and other NCOs that are
branches or international or foreign organizations would be
require to publish an annual report listing their founders,
property assets and how owned, along with income and expense
statements.
COMMENT: As written, this amendment appears to cover
international organizations such as OSCE and IOM. END
COMMENT


COMMENT


--------------------------





10. (SBU) It is not yet clear whether the Parliament will
heed ODIHR's warnings regarding the inconsistency of many of
the amendments with Kazakhstan's OSCE commitments. The OSCE
is organizing a roundtable discussion of the amendments in
Astana on April 22 to highlight concerns. The fact that the


package is reportedly on the legislative fast track, similar
to the handling of the recent election law amendments (ref
A), may well indicate that the GOK intends to forge ahead
despite international concerns. Post's high-level
discussions (ref B) have revealed a clear sense that in the
wake of events in Kyrgyzstan, the Kazakhstani government
perceives the need to take action to ensure national
security and head off any attempts to destabilize the
country. The OSCE/ODIHR has weighed in already on these
amendments, providing a detailed legal analysis that
highlights inconsistencies with Kazakhstan's OSCE
commitments. Whether the GOK Parliament will ignore these
recommendations, as it disregarded OSCE/ODIHR comments on
several recent pieces of legislation, remains to be seen.
Kazakhstani officials have publicly and privately grumbled
that "all anyone wants to talk about is the Human Dimension"
of OSCE, and MPs have publicly called OSCE/ODIHR's
assessment of a recent law an insult to Kazakhstan's
sovereignty. A Kazakhstani official recently commented to
an EmbOff that "security is everything now." This most
recent package of legislation is an unfortunate confirmation
that "security" is being pursued at the expense of
protecting basic human rights and fulfilling Kazakhstan's
international commitments.



1011. (U) Dushanbe minimize considered.

ORDWAY


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