- Despite some improvements, minority groups still face restrictions
- UN Human Rights Council adopt outcome of country review
GENEVA (12 March 2020) – On 12 March, the United Nations Human Rights Council adopted the report on Kazakhstan’s human rights record. Experts have criticized Kazakhstan’s treatment of the right to freedom of religion or belief. The country has a record of making registration for minority religious groups difficult, hindering their ability to freely live out their faith.
“Nobody should be persecuted because of their faith. Kazakhstan’s refusal to implement legal changes in order to ease registration processes for religious communities and ensure the full exercise of religious freedom puts it at odds with international human rights standards. Church registration is a common problem for religious minority groups in the region. Having said that, Kazakhstan has shown more willingness for dialogue and improvement on freedom of religion,” said Giorgio Mazzoli, Legal Officer for ADF International at the United Nations in Geneva.
Freedom of religion in Kazakhstan
ADF International’s submission about freedom of religion to the UN Human Rights Council for the review of Kazakhstan outlined a range of violations of the rights of religious minorities. These included prosecuting and punishing individuals and groups for religious activity such as worship meetings, distribution of religious literature, and conducting religious prayer in a manner not approved by the state. Punishments ranged from fines and confiscation of materials to jail sentences, deportations, and police raids.
A 2011 law on religion also has been recognized as incompatible with international standards for religious freedom. The law required all religious communities to re-register with the state, which was described by many as confusing and vague. It also has been the basis for heavy restrictions on the freedom of religion of minority religious groups.