Amendments to the Plan on the implementation of Kazakhstan’s Civil Society Development Concept for 2006–2011 were drafted, with international practice, in particular the Netherland’s experience of cooperation among NGOs and government agencies (social order mechanism), a main focus in order to strengthen cooperation. At the end of October 2008, the government finalized the reviewed plan on the Concept’s implementation.
The judiciary reform package, introduced in January 2007, was designed to provide the following improvements:
- Greater transparency
- Public access to court hearings
- Further improvement of jury trials.
In October 2008, the reform package was finalized and submitted to the government.
The Media law, drafted by Kazakh NGOs together with Kazakhstan’s Congress of Journalists and the OSCE Representative for Media Freedom, is currently being implemented. The Government together with the OSCE Representative for Media Freedom is working on reducing the list of “triggers” for prosecuting libel in the media and the exclusion of relevant clauses from the election legislation.
According to the Agency for Information and Communications, the number of Internet users in Kazakhstan will increase from 11 to 20 percent. In order to grasp the significance of this, it is necessary to reference the usage in surrounding nations:
- Kyrgyzstan, 5–6 percent
- Ukraine, 11.9 percent
- Russia,18–20 percent
- Belarus, 56.3 percent.
At the end of October 2008, Amendments to the Law on Political Parties was submitted to the Parliament to provide for further development of the party system. Among others, provisions prohibiting a one-party Parliament were included for consideration.
Kazakhstan is continuing its cooperation with Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODHIR)/OSCE to further reform the election legislation. A series of roundtable discussions under the title, Challenges and Opportunities for Election Process Participants, took place in 2008. The first discussion was held in Astana on March 28, 2008.
Kazakhstan held the second roundtable in June 2008 in Astana. During this meeting, they discussed a possible incorporation of 250 amendments to the Law on Elections proposed by the OSCE and local and international NGOs. They also discussed the intent to draft amendments by July 2008, submit the draft for the Government’s consideration by September 2008 and to the Majilis in December 2008. One proposed amendment included Kazakhstan’s plans to promote stricter personal levels of responsibility amongst relevant officials in order to reduce electoral inaccuracy.
Currently, Kazakhstan’s government is looking for the best forms of interaction with oppositional political forces. In November 2007, the Public Chamber, an advisory and consulting body, was established in the Majilis to provide for dialogue among all political forces in Kazakhstan. Its primary goal is to review and debate draft laws, and develop relevant recommendations and proposals. The PC consists of 30 members comprised of the following:
- Recognized public figures
- NGO and media representatives
- Prominent opposition leaders
The Coalition of non-governmental organizations was established in November 2007 in Kazakhstan to increase transparency and public control over MPs. Its members include:
- Kazakhstan’s International Bureau for Human Rights
- The Press Freedom Foundation, Adil Soz
- The International Helsinki Federation on Human Rights
- The Almaty Helsinki Committee
- “Charter for Human Rights,” a public foundation
- Opposition representatives, Mr. Zhovtis and Ms. Turmagambetova.
A draft for the “Road to Europe” program, announced in the President’s 2008 “State-of-the-Nation” address, was prepared and submitted in July 2008. This stands as clear evidence of the country’s democratic priorities and commitment to political modernization. The aims of this program are to accelerate the process by which Kazakhstan will meet Western democratic standards and values, and to develop continued cooperation with European partners to improve Kazakhstan’s electoral, party, and mass media legislation in accordance with OSCE guidelines. Cooperation with EU countries on Kazakhstan’s OSCE chairmanship agenda will be a special focus of the program.
It is important to note that Kazakhstan has already signed and ratified 35 major documents in the field of human rights which include international treaties on Civil, Political, Economic, Social and Cultural rights and conventions of the International Labor Organization. In 2008, Kazakhstan also ratified optional protocol to the International treaty on Civil and Political rights as well as optional protocol to the Convention Against Torture. Kazakhstan likewise supports the efforts of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and in March 2008, the Majilis passed the UN Convention against Corruption.