On 30 April, 2013, an eight-day mission of the Supreme Bar Council to Kazakhstan came to an end. The Open Dialogue Foundation, whose statutory objective is to promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law in the countries of the former Eastern bloc, was the initiator of the enterprise, as it had addressed the Commission and External Image of Pro Bono Activities with the SBC with a request to organise the mission. The delegation left for Kazakhstan at the invitation of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law (KIBHR).
The mission consisted of: solicitor Monika Strus-Wołos Ph.D., solicitor Magdalena Fertak, solicitor Justyna Mazur, solicitor Wojciech Mądrzycki and solicitor Jacek Świeca. An interpreter, Juliana Kapalska, also joined the team.
During their stay in Kazakhstan, the delegation held nearly 30 meetings in several cities (Almaty, Astana, Petropavlovsk).
The SBC representatives met, in particular, with non-governmental organisations, representatives of local authorities, including the Office of the Kazakh Ombudsman (Commissioner for Human Rights of the Republic of Kazakhstan), opposition activists including their main delegate, Yevgeniy Zhovtis and independent media, as well as the representation of the EU and the Polish community of Petropavlovsk.
The monitoring of the situation of political prisoners was an important element of the mission. Members of the mission found it particularly difficult from an emotional point of view, to talk with the daughter of Roza Tuletayeva, the only woman sentenced for participating in strikes in Zhanaozen. The imprisoned woman is currently serving a five-year sentence in a medium-security penal colony. Having been subjected to torture during the criminal investigation, she is now very ill and does not have access to medical care or medication. Tuletayeva’s situation was presented by the delegation of solicitors to the EU Delegation in Kazakhstan and the Ombudsman. Also, members of the mission met with the families of two well-known political prisoners: the opposition leader Vladimir Kozlov and Vadim Kuramshin; they also visited the penal colony in Petropavlovsk.
The delegation has also established a relationship with the local Bar. President of the Almaty Association of Solicitors, Gulnar Bakirovna Balgazina, told the Polish solicitors about the rules surrounding the recruitment of trainee solicitors, vocational qualification examinations and professional licensing rules in Kazakhstan, while individual solicitors recounted problems, encountered in their professional work.
The mission was co-financed by the Open Dialogue Foundation, which also provided organisational and logistical assistance.
On 14 May, 2013, at 12:00 p.m., a press conference by the mission members and a representative of the Open Dialogue Foundation will be held in the conference room of the European Commission Representation in Warsaw (the ‘Centrum Jasna’ building, ul. Jasna 14/16 A). A detailed report of the mission will be released shortly.