Two coalitions of NGOs from Kazakhstan in Geneva for the upcoming UPR

Published on 05 Nov 2019, 09:37 AM

Two NGO coalitions from Kazakhstan stress their priorities and concerns for the upcoming UPR, three years after the review by the Human Rights Committee

Representatives of the NGOs from Kazakhstan in a bilateral meeting to stress their priority concerns for the UPR – October 2019

In the week of 7 October 2019, two groups of NGOs from Kazakhstan came to Geneva to participate in the pre-session of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). One group was led by the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, and consisted of 13 representatives, including of the Public Foundation Kadir-Kasiet, Charter for Human Rights, Children’s Fund of Kazakhstan, International Legal Initiative, and others. The other group was a New Generation of Human Rights Defenders, who participated in this process for the first time.

Agenda and advocacy

Both Coalitions met with representatives of Ireland, France, Mexico, the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Uruguay and Slovenia, missions that have a particular interest for Kazakhstan and/or issues that the country is currently coping with. The coalition led by the Bureau stressed their main concerns and presented what they had set out in their written report: torture, freedom of peaceful assembly, freedom of association, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, the protection of human rights defenders, rights of people with disabilities, the right to a fair trial, participation in public affairs, children’s rights, and other issues. They also stressed that the Human Rights Committee was concerned about the same topics when Kazakhstan was reviewed in 2016. Moreover, the HR Committee evaluated the implementation of the priority recommendations in 2018, but observed very few progress with regard to torture and the freedom of assembly and association. The Centre also participated in a meeting with the 28 EU member states and spoke on behalf of both coalitions.

The New Generation focused on the right to vote, sexual and reproductive rights of women with disabilities, the rights of transgender persons and access to information. Since the New Generation came to Geneva for the first time, the Centre did not only organize the usual bilateral meetings with diplomatic missions. We also organised meetings with relevant NGOs, Special Procedures and OHCHR, in order to give them a clear overview of the existing mechanisms and the possibilities for engagement. In particular, the group met with International Disability Alliance, the Human Rights and Disability Team of OHCHR, CCPR-Centre, ISHR and Child Rights Connect. They also met with the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the right to health and the independent expert on sexual orientation and gender identity. Lastly, Vasilka Sancin, member of the Human Rights Committee, met with the group to explain the work of the Committee and to stress the importance of participation of civil society.

Both groups were represented in the pre-session panel. Yevgeniy Zhovtis represented the Coalition led by the Bureau and Roman Reimer spoke about the priorities of the New Generation. More than 19 diplomatic missions attended this pre-session.

During these meetings, the Coalitions handed out factsheets that were developed in cooperation with the Centre (available on the right). On these factsheets, the UPR recommendations from the previous cycle are listed, as well as similar recommendations from the HR Committee from 2016 and the evaluation of the implementation in 2018. It also contains a description of the implementation of these previous recommendations, as well as suggested recommendations from civil society.

A holistic approach to human rights

Representatives from the New Generation of Human Rights Defenders in Palais Wilson

The Centre supports a holistic approach to human rights. This means that every human rights mechanism is used to reiterate recommendations that have been expressed by other mechanisms in the past, but that have not been implemented yet. In the case of Kazakhstan, it was reviewed by the Human Rights Committee in 2016, and the follow-up was evaluated in 2018. The Committee noted almost no progress in the priority concerns, which makes the UPR a timely opportunity to remind the State of its outstanding obligations.

Highlights from the UPR

More than 93 States gave recommendations to Kazakhstan during the third cycle of UPR. Kazakhstan was commended for having improved the detention conditions, the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, and for having created an ombudsperson that deals specifically with the rights of the child. 

However, many concerns remained. Most recommendations were related to the abolition of the death penalty, equal access to education, in particular to children with disabilities, comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation including based on sexual orientation and gender identity, and gender equality. This included the empowerment of women and girls, their representation in decision-making processes and in public and political life, measures against domestic and sexual violence, and eliminating the list of professions that are prohibited to women. 


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