Central Asia’s biggest state Kazakhstan assures to protect freedom of expression


Freedom of expression is a constitutional right of every citizen, said Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev at a virtual meeting with the country’s Prosecutor General office, reported the Akorda press service. This can be viewed as a major step towards democratisation in Central Asia.

Since last year, Kazakhstan has had a fundamentally new law on peaceful assemblies, which introduced a notification system to organise rallies instead of the permissions that were required previously. Peaceful assemblies, including protests, can now be held in central parts of major cities,” Tokayev told the meeting.

According to him, this was a “very serious step towards the democratization of the society.”

“We should explain this policy not only within our society, but also abroad. Those willing to protest should abide by the new law. No one is depriving citizens of their freedom of expression and voicing criticism towards the government. This is a constitutional right and it should be fulfilled in accordance with the law,” he said.

The initiative was first voiced by Tokayev in his first state-of-the-nation address in September 2019. The law was signed by Tokayev in May 2020.

Tokayev said the Prosecutor’s office has a crucial role in ensuring rule of law and fighting crime. Amid the coronavirus outbreak, the crime rate went down by 30 percent.

Reforms must continue increasing the trust of the population in the system.

“A three-tier model of criminal procedure is currently being implemented. As a result, 692 people have been released from prosecution in one month. This should continue. All major procedural decisions must pass through the prosecutor. This is a very important issue. Not a single violation of the law should go unnoticed by the prosecutor,” said Tokayev.

He also spoke about the optimisation of the country’s Criminal Code, where the work should involve both law enforcement agencies, state bodies and the public, including civil activists and experts.

The President has initiated several reforms during the past two years and held successful Parliamentary polls in January.

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