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Kazakhstan: Human Rights
Country Study > Chapter 11 > Government and Politics > Human Rights


Considering the power available to the Nazarbayev regime, Kazakhstan's observation of international human-rights standards in the mid-1990s was given a relatively high rating. In one celebrated case of attempted censorship, historian Karishal Asanov was tried three times before being acquitted on a charge of defaming the president for an article he published in a Moscow newspaper.

Although antigovernment activities of the nationalist-religious group Alash have been actively discouraged, there have been no recorded instances of extrajudicial killings or disappearances, or of unsubstantiated grounds for arrest. Prisons are generally overcrowded because of the eruption of crime in the republic, but international organizations record no instances of torture or of deliberately degrading treatment.

The state security organs continue some of their Soviet-era ways; there have been complaints that proper procedures for search warrants are not always followed, and some credible accusations have been made about tampering with or planting evidence in criminal proceedings. In general, however, the republic's investigative and security organs seem to be making an effort to follow the constitution's guidance on the inviolability of person, property, and dwelling.

Free movement about the country is permitted, although residence is still controlled by the Soviet-era registration system, which requires citizens to have official permission to live in a particular city. In practice, this system has made it almost impossible for outsiders to move into Almaty.

The exercise of political rights in Kazakhstan is closely controlled, and the number of parties is limited by registration restrictions. Imposition of presidential rule and the general strengthening of the president's role have limited popular political participation. The Russian population has attempted to depict the imposition of language laws and the refusal to grant dual citizenship as violations of human rights, but these claims generally have not been accepted by the international community. Several Russian political groups and human rights alleged that irregularities in the August 1995 constitutional referendum invalidated the document's ratification on human rights grounds. The nine official foreign observers reported no major irregularities, however.

Data as of March 1996

Last Updated: March 1996

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Kazakhstan was first published in 1996. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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