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U.S. Statement at the Adoption of the UPR Working Group Report for Kazakhstan
March 19, 2015

U.S. Statement at the Adoption of the UPR Working Group Report for Kazakhstan
28th Session of the Human Rights Council

As Delivered by Tabitha Snowbarger

March 19, 2015

The United States welcomes the return of the delegation from Kazakhstan to the Council and appreciates the opportunity to comment on the final Working Group report.

We welcome Kazakhstan’s expressed commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.  We applaud the Government of Kazakhstan’s establishment of a National Preventative Mechanism aiming to prevent torture.  We also commend Kazakhstan for its active participation in the Almaty Process, a key regional forum for strengthening cooperation on migration management.

We note with concern that Kazakhstan did not accept our recommendation to protect space for dissent, including by decriminalizing libel and minimizing fines against media outlets.  We remain concerned about the recent passage of legislation that may further restrict the activities of civil society, the exercise of freedom of religion or belief, and the enjoyment of other fundamental freedoms by imposing new or increased criminal penalties for vaguely defined offenses.  We urge Kazakhstan to implement strategies to prevent or mitigate the potential negative impact of these laws on the freedoms enjoyed by members of civil society and religious groups.

We are also disappointed that Kazakhstan did not support our recommendation to modify or repeal parts of the trade union law that unduly restrict freedom of association in order to ensure the ability of all workers to form and join independent trade unions.

We strongly encourage the Government of Kazakhstan to reconsider its decision and accept the above recommendations.

Thank you.