Kazakhstan – annual report 2020

II nd Eurasian Human Rights Forum: Human rights protection and case-law in modern Kazakhstan; Zauresh Baimoldina (centre), Rector of the Academy of Justice under the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan
II nd Eurasian Human Rights Forum: Human rights protection and case-law in modern Kazakhstan; Zauresh Baimoldina (centre), Rector of the Academy of Justice under the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Strategic Framework 

Legal Policy Starting Point 

The year 2020 was shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic, which also presented Kazakhstan with major challenges. During the year, the government introduced extensive support measures for the economic and social sectors, which are set to continue until 2023.

President Kassim-Jomart Tokayev addressed the population on 1 September 2020 in a speech entitled “Kazakhstan in the new reality: time for action”. In the speech, he announced sweeping measures to modernise the state administration and state bodies, as well as reforms of family policy (protection of children’s rights), social policy (drafting of a social code), electoral law (30% quota of women and young persons on party candidate lists), self-administration and other aspects. The legal protection system, the bodies exercising judicial power and the Public Prosecutor’s Office will also be modernised in order to strengthen human rights.

Kazakhstan signed the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights on 24 September 2020, in which signatory states commit to abolishing the death penalty. However, ratification will require amendments to national legislation.

The Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EPCA) between the EU and Kazakhstan entered into force on 1 March 2020, placing the cooperation on a new legal footing and covering a total of 29 different areas, including economy and trade, justice, freedom and security, combating money laundering and corruption, counter terrorism, disarmament and nuclear safety, environment and climate change.

Overall Concept

Several planned events had to be postponed or cancelled at the beginning of the year due to the pandemic. Fortunately, almost all of them have since taken place in alternative virtual formats. This also enabled the successful continuation of cooperation with the Constitutional Council, the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court as well as the General Prosecutor’s Office and their further training academies. The Ministry of Education and Science and the Anti-Corruption Agency of Kazakhstan were also recruited as new partners.

Kazakhstan celebrated the 25th anniversary of its Constitution with a large and high-level international online conference in August 2020. Its main thematic focus was on the importance of fundamental rights and their protection in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. Responding to a request from the Constitutional Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan, IRZ translated the Act on the Federal Constitutional Court, which will be used in future during further training events.

Issues of intellectual property continue to play an important role in civil and commercial law. In addition, a seminar on the Hague Convention on Child Abduction (HCCA) of 1980 was held in cooperation with the Hague Conference on Private International Law (HCCH). Another reform project in Kazakhstan is aimed at strengthening the rights of children: Kazakhstan plans to sign the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

In the course of further reforms of criminal and criminal procedure law, advice was provided in the area of investigative proceedings, as the Public Prosecutor’s Office in Kazakhstan will be tasked with leading these proceedings from 2021 onwards, similar to the German model.

The Administrative Procedures Code was adopted on 29 June 2020 after more than ten years of preparation and is scheduled to enter into force on 1 July 2021. Two further training events were held for judges, lawyers and students on the application of these laws in court proceedings.

Focus of Activity in 2020

Constitutional Law, Human Rights and their Enforceability

  • International online conference “Constitution in the 21 st century – the rule of law, value of the human being and effectiveness of the state”
  • II nd Eurasian Forum on Human Rights “Human rights protection and case-law in modern Kazakhstan: problems, trends and prospects”
  • Translation of the Act on the Federal Constitutional Court into Russian

Civil and Commercial Law

  • Online seminar on the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs
  • Online seminar “Collective rights management and rights administration of copyright and related rights”
  • Working meeting with the Kazakh Ministry of Justice and parliament on legal reforms in the field of intellectual property, in particular the protection of unregistered community designs
  • International Online conference “The implementation of measures on the return of wrongfully abducted children under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction Prevention of 25 October 1980”

Criminal and Penitentiary Law

  • Online forum “Criminal prosecution: responsibilities of the criminal investigation department and the Public Prosecutor’s Office”
  • Online seminar “Methods for evaluating corruption risks”
  • Online seminar “Modern approaches to organising the fight against legalising criminal proceeds”
  • International online event on policy to combat corruption with the Anti-Corruption Agency “Towards integrity: strengthening transparency, accountability and participation”

Basic and Further Training 

  • Two online seminars “Particular aspects of proceedings under civil law, criminal law and administrative law”

Outlook 

Cooperation with the Kazakh partner institutions will continue within the framework of the country’s extensive reform projects. Advice will also be provided in 2021, in particular on criminal law and criminal procedure law, commercial law and administrative law. IRZ will place another focus on corruption and cybercrime.

Kazakhstan - annual report 2019

Delegation of the Academy of Justice at the Supreme Court visiting the Thuringian Ministry for Migration, Justice and Consumer Protection: Inka Strack (centre), Head of Division Court Organisation; Sagatbek Suleimen (to the left), Supreme Court Judge of the Republic of Kazakhstan and head of the delegation; Head of Directorate Thomas Kunz (2nd from the right), Head of the Central Department
Delegation of the Academy of Justice at the Supreme Court visiting the Thuringian Ministry for Migration, Justice and Consumer Protection: Inka Strack (centre), Head of Division Court Organisation; Sagatbek Suleimen (to the left), Supreme Court Judge of the Republic of Kazakhstan and head of the delegation; Head of Directorate Thomas Kunz (2nd from the right), Head of the Central Department

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

After almost thirty years in office, President Nursultan Nazarbayev stepped down from office in early 2019. An early presidential election was held on 9 June 2019, which was won by Kassim Yomart Tokayev. At domestic policy level, the country‘s extensive reform programme focussing on progress in the legal system will continue unabated, in particular within the judiciary and administration.

The European Union had emphasised its will to support development and stabilisation in the Central Asian region during the EU-Kazakhstan Cooperation Council in Brussels on 26 and 27 February 2018. The interest in enlarging on the cooperation with Kazakhstan is reflected in the new EU Central Asia Strategy, which was adopted on 15 May 2019, as well as in the successful implementation of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. Within this framework, future cooperation in rule of law, democracy, the protection of human rights and other areas will be intensified.

Overall Concept

Criminal, criminal procedure and civil law will be the priorities of IRZ‘s cooperative undertakings with Kazakhstan. Important partners include the Constitutional Council, the Ministry of Justice as well as the Supreme Court and the General Prosecutor‘s Office with their respective training institutes.

General and very specialised topics were both important in the area of criminal law and criminal procedural law. The reforms of 2015 and 2016 in this field continue to raise many questions and have increased the need for further training. During the reporting year, IRZ organised events on the general course of criminal proceedings, including the course of a preliminary investigation, the criminal justice system, combating terrorism, aviation security and policy to combat corruption in particular. Basic and further training courses for public prosecutors were held on selected topics.

With a view to the planned introduction of family courts, a pilot project on family law initiated by the Supreme Court has been running in Kazakhstan since September 2018. The project aims to establish family centres throughout the country where young people in particular can receive advice. The range of consultations will be broad and should extend from legal and psychological assistance to mediation and marriage counselling. IRZ experts supported the Kazakh partners in holding a round table in Nur-Sultan to continue the cooperation on this topic, which started in 2018. Other important issues included in-court and out-of-court mediation and copyright law. A particularly pleasing aspect was the participation of two Kazakh representatives in the multilateral English-speaking internship programme for civil and commercial judges.

Focus of Activity in 2019

Civil and Commercial Law

  • The International Round Table on “Child-Friendly Case-law“ in Nur-Sultan
  • Seminar “Protection of copyright and related rights on the Internet“ in Nur-Sultan
  • Working visit to Erfurt on the subject of “Alternative dispute resolution“

Public Law

  • Seminar in Nur-Sultan on administrative court jurisdiction

Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law

  • Seminar in Nur-Sultan on “Principles and proceedings in criminal procedure law“
  • International conference on criminal law policy and criminal justice “Effective criminal policy and modern model of the criminal justice system - a guarantee for adequate protection of the constitutional rights of citizens“ in Akbulak near Almaty
  • Seminar on the course of preliminary proceedings under German criminal law in Nur-Sultan
  • Study trip to Hanover and Celle by a delegation of the General Prosecutor‘s Office of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the topic “Combating terrorism and extremism in Germany“
  • Working visit for public prosecutors on investigation measures in Sonthofen, Kempten and Munich
  • Seminar in Nur-Sultan on aviation security
  • Seminar in Nur-Sultan on policy to combat corruption

Basic and Further Training

  • Participation of one legal practitioner of the Goethe Institute course “German for lawyers“
  • Participation of two Kazakh participants in the ninth “IRZ Summer School on German Law“ in Bonn
  • Participation of the Chair of the Union of Judges of the Republic of Kazakhstan and a member of the Union of Judges of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the multilateral IRZ event of the Memorandum Group of several national associations of judges in Bonn
  • Participation of two Kazakh representatives in the multilateral internship programme for civil and commercial judges

Outlook

Cooperation with Kazakh partner institutions will continue as part of Kazakhstan‘s comprehensive reform programme. This cooperation will receive further support by the new EU Central Asia Strategy, which was adopted in May 2019. IRZ cooperation activities with Kazakhstan will continue to focus on criminal and criminal procedural law and civil law in 2020 as well. Constitutional issues and the protection of human rights will again be addressed at joint events. There are also plans to further expand the exchange of information with the Kazakhstan Ministry of Justice and to accompany events concerning intellectual property.

Kazakhstan - annual report 2018

Delegation from the Supreme Judicial Council visiting the Ministry of Justice of Rhineland-Palatinate Secretary of State Fabian Scherf (centre)
Delegation from the Supreme Judicial Council visiting the Ministry of Justice of Rhineland-Palatinate Secretary of State Fabian Scherf (centre)

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

In January 2018, Kazakhstan became the first Central Asian country to hold the UN Security Council Presidency, during which the strategic development of Central Asia and Afghanistan were the main thematic priorities.

The European Union also emphasised its will to support development and stabilisation in the Central Asian region during the EU-Kazakhstan Cooperation Council in Brussels on 26 and 27 February 2018. The interest in continuing the cooperation with Kazakhstan is reflected in the new EU Central Asia strategy, whose adoption has been announced for 2019, as well as in the successful implementation of the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement. Within this framework, future cooperation in rule of law, democracy, the protection of Human Rights and other areas will be intensified. At domestic policy level, the country‘s extensive reform programme focussing, inter alia, on progress in the legal system, judiciary and administration will continue unabated. The cooperation between the IRZ and its partners in Kazakhstan enhanced these reform efforts once again in the reporting year.

Overall Concept

In 2018 also, the focus of cooperation with the Republic of Kazakhstan was on criminal law, criminal procedure law and civil law. Cooperation with the Supreme Court and the Academy of Law Enforcement Agencies under the General Prosecutor’s Office was pursued intensively within these priorities. Significant importance was also assigned to cooperation with the Supreme Judicial Council and the Constitutional Council.

The measures taken with the Academy of Law Enforcement Agencies under the General Prosecutor’s Office during the reporting year focused largely on the area of cybercrime. The main emphasis of the joint events with the Supreme Court was on promoting the principles of criminal justice.

In October 2018, the IRZ organised a working visit on the topic of “Basic and further training of judges“ for a high-ranking delegation from the Supreme Judicial Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan, which is also responsible for setting the quality and recruitment requirements for the magistracy.

A seminar on copyright and neighbouring rights was held in April 2018 in Astana in cooperation with the Kazakhstan Ministry of Justice and was attended by a representative of the Gesellschaft für musikalische Aufführungs- und mechanische Vervielfältigungsrechte (GEMA) on behalf of the IRZ.

Acting on a suggestion by the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the IRZ organised a technical agenda for a working visit by a high-ranking delegation led by Vice-Minister Serik Zhumangarin from the Ministry of National Economy of the Republic of Kazakhstan to discuss issues of anti-trust law with German partners in Berlin and Bonn.

Foci of Activity in 2018

Constitutional Law/Human Rights and their Enforceability

  • International conference on the “Realisation of constitutional standards as a guarantee for effective criminal proceedings“ in Ak-Bulak
  • Support of the summer school on comparative constitutional law with KAZGUU University in Astana
  • Working visit by a delegation from the Constitutional Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan to North-Rhine Westphalia on the topic of protecting constitutional and human rights

Civil and Commercial Law

  • Seminar in Astana on copyright and neighbouring rights with the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan
  • Round Table in Berlin on the topic of “20 years of anti-corruption legislation and the Agency for Civil Service Affairs in the Republic of Kazakhstan“
  • Working visit to Berlin and Bonn on the topic of anti-trust law by a high-ranking delegation led by Vice-Minister Serik Zhumangarin from the Ministry of National Economy of the Republic of Kazakhstan
  • Seminar in Astana on the topic of court mediation
  • Working visit to Sonthofen and Kempten on the issue of family law

Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law

  • Seminar “Legalisation of criminal revenues using electronic cash and virtual currency“ in Astana
  • Working visit to Frankfurt/Main on criminal proceedings
  • High-ranking visit by the Presidential Administration to Hannover, Nienburg and Sehnde on the topics of the penitentiary system and police training
  • International conference “Modern cyber-threats under the conditions of the emerging 4th Industrial Revolution“ in Astana
  • International seminar “Strategy to fight terrorism: new challenges and international experience“ in Koschi
  • Seminar in Astana on the topic electronic evidence in criminal proceedings

Basic and Further Training

  • Working visit to Trier and Mainz on basic and further training for judges
  • Attendance by Kazakh participants of the eighth “IRZ Summer School on German Law“ in Bonn

Outlook

Cooperation with the partner institutions in Kazakhstan will continue, also in view of the ongoing reform efforts in the country, and will remain focused on the upcoming legal reforms. Moreover, the EU‘s new Central Asia strategy and its consequent enhanced interest in the Central Asian states provide an important framework within which to continue promoting project work between the IRZ and Kazakhstan. Criminal, criminal procedure and civil law will be the priorities of the IRZ‘s cooperative undertakings with Kazakhstan. Cooperation with the Constitutional Council, the Supreme Court and the Academy of Law Enforcement Agencies under the General Prosecutor’s Office will carry on. There are also plans to further expand discussions with the Kazakhstan Ministry of Justice, to intensify measures for the protection of intellectual property and possibly to extend them to other fields as well.