ICCPR Case Digest




Submission: 2014.05.10

View Adopted: 2019.07.17

Bakytgul Suleymenova v. Kazakhstan

Arbitrary limitation on the right to freedom of expression and assembly, state party unable to provide for permissible justification

Substantive Issues
  • Fair trial
  • Freedom of association
  • Freedom of expression
Relevant Articles
  • Article 14
  • Article 19.2
  • Article 2 - OP1
  • Article 21
  • Article 5 - OP1
Full Text


The author is a Kazak national who claims the state party has violated her rights under article 14, 19(2) and 21 of the Covenant. 

In October 2013, the author and some 200 others arrived in Astana to hand over a petition to the President of Kazakhstan. The visit was planned and the Government was informed, both online and via telegram. Later in the day no one had arrived, and when the crowd started to chant, police arrived and arrested members of the group. The author was apprehended, brought before an administrative court and found guilty of participating in an unauthorised mass gathering under domestic legislation.

The author claimed that the state party refused to acknowledge her communication, and although they were aware of the gathering they ignored the messaging and failed to communicate with the crowd. She alleged further that as per the Committee's jurisprudence, any restriction on the freedom of assembly must fall within the permissible limitations of article 21 and in this case, the restrictions on assembly and expression in the state parties legislation are unjustified, and their application is in violation of article 19(2) and 21 of the Covenant. 


The Committee recalled that the right to peaceful assembly, as guaranteed under article 21 of the Covenant, is a fundamental human right that is essential for the public expression of an individual’s views and opinions and indispensable in a democratic society, and the state party is therefore under an obligation to justify any restriction. In the absense of such a justification, the Committee found that the state party violated the author's rights under article 21.

Similarly, in the absence of any justification for the restriction on the authors right to freedom of expression, the Committee found a violation of article 19(2) of the Covenant. 


The Committee requested the state party to provide the author with an effective remedy, including making full reparation to individuals whose Covenant rights have been violated. This included requesting the state party: 

  • take appropriate steps to provide the author with adequate compensation and reimbursement of any legal costs incurred by her;

  • take all steps necessary to prevent similar violations from occurring again in the future;

  • review its legislation with a view to ensuring that the rights under article 21 of the Covenant, including organizing and conducting peaceful assemblies, meetings, processions, pickets and demonstrations, may be fully enjoyed in the State party;

  • publish the present Views and to have them widely disseminated in the official languages of the State party.


The Committee requested the state party to provide an update on the measures taken to give effect to its views within 180 days, or prior to 17 January 2020.

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