PACE Members: “Magnitsky laws” sanctions must be imposed in response to political prosecution in Kazakhstan

  • 15.04.2019
  • Author: Paola Gaffurini

During the Spring session of the Parliamentary Assembly  of the Council of Europe (PACE), 22 members signed a written declaration under the title “Magnitsky laws sanctions must be imposed in response to political prosecution in Kazakhstan” tabled by André Gattolin, the French senator and member of the French delegation to the Council of Europe. The written declaration was been supported by the main political groups represented in PACE, such as ALDE, EPP/CD, UEL, SOC and EC, and features European countries such as Germany, Italy, Belgium, France, Poland, the Baltic states and others.

In the text of the written declaration MPs stated their concern at “the systemic prosecution of peaceful protesters, including those objecting the renaming of the country’s capital and nomination of the acting president”. They added that “more than 700 protesters, including children, were subjected to arbitrary detention”.

Lawmakers also denounced serious restrictions on freedom of media, detention and prosecution of journalists Saniya Toiken and Svetlana Glushkova, who were covering anti-government rallies in the country. Glushkova was repeatedly arrested on 22 March 2019 while covering demonstrations against the renaming of Kazakhstan’s capital; meanwhile, Toiken was detained three times between February and March 2019 for reporting oil workers’ protests in Zhanaozen.

In the statement, attacks on human rights defenders are mentioned, such as the case of Serikzhan Bilash, “who has been kept in custody and was, presumably, tortured to testify against the DCK leader, Mukhtar Ablyazov (whom he had never met)” or against the members of the human rights monitoring mission of the Italian Federation for Human Rights. Lyudmyla Voloshina and Valerii Iavtushenko were indeed “illegally expelled from Kazakhstan after trying to meet a former judge dismissed from office after acquitting an opposition activist, Aigul Akberdieva”.

In the light of the common values of human rights and democracy established by the Council of Europe and the European Union; PACE members backed the European Parliament’s last urgent resolution, dated 14 March 2019, on the grave human situation in the country. In both documents, MPs highlighted a number of high-profile cases of political prisoners sentenced to long prison terms on extremism charges, such as those of Almat Zhumagulov, Kenzhebek Abishev, Aset Abishev and Ablovas Dzhumayev. Others, like Mukhtar Dzhakishev, Iskander Yerimbetov and Max Bokayev, whose cases have been raised by UN human rights bodies, are still being kept in prison, and UN communications are being ignored by the authorities.

PACE MPs committed themselves to hold accountable those officials responsible for human rights violations in Kazakhstan, thus exhorting the application of the so-called Magnitsky laws. During the Spring session, a side-event on the application of the Magnitsky laws in the Council of Europe area was organised by ODF and the Italian Federation for Human Rights, together with NGO representatives; victims of human rights abuses from different countries such as Russian-occupied Crimea, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Moldova, Iran and Venezuela were in attendance, alongside PACE MPs André Gattolin (France; NR), Pieter Omtzigt (Netherlands; EPP/CD) and Roberto Rampi (Italy; SOC). Previously, in January 2019, PACE voted in favour of the resolution “Sergei Magnitsky and beyond – fighting impunity by targeted sanctions”, encouraging its member States to integrate a mechanism of targeted sanctions into their national legal system.

Read the text of the written declaration:

Read the PACE resolution:

Read the text of the EP’s resolution:

Read ODF’s latest statement: