Kazakhstan rights groups harassed: NGOs targeted


Kazakhstan’s authorities have been abusing tax issues to harass human rights groups. Two prominent human rights organizations, the International Legal Initiative Foundation and Liberty, have had tax audits, and the tax authorities appear to be targeting both because of their work protecting human rights, Human Rights Watch said today.

“Kazakhstan’s authorities shouldn’t be using bogus tax audits to prevent rights groups from operating normally in the country”, said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Targeting nongovernmental groups because of their work on human rights is unacceptable”.

Recognizing that Kazakhstan is less repressive than Uzbekistan, offering openings that the latter might not have, though it, too, has serious problems in areas of democracy and human rights, says the McCain Institute’s bipartisan Democracy and Human Rights Working Group:

  • Encouraging President Nazarbayev to be a leader in the region and hold fair and free elections rather than orchestrating his succession.
  • Working with other donors to offer assistance in areas that are appealing to the Kazakhs’ desire to advance globally, such as higher education, technology, and science, but also offer opportunities to advance rule of law, inclusiveness, and openness.
  • Reminding Kazakhstan when it takes a seat on the U.N. Security Council in 2017 that a global leader sets an example to others in terms of good governance, economic freedom, and respect for political and civil liberties.
  • Focusing assistance programs on governance and institutions as a means of beginning the discussion about rule of law and democracy, as well as on grass-roots movements, nascent though they may be.


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