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HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law Call for Transparent Investigation and Open Trial for Karim Massimov

The Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law issued a statement on the case of arbitrarily detained Karim Massimov.

In response to the decision of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Bureau states that the opinion “indicates gross violations of international fair trial standards.”

The Bureau calls “on the authorities to ensure maximum openness of court proceedings against these persons, as well as all proceedings on “January events,” in compliance with international obligations of the Republic of Kazakhstan with regard to guarantees of right to protection, independence and impartiality of the court and ensuring equality and adversarial of the parties.

We also recall that according to article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (On the Right to a Fair Trial), ratified by the Republic of Kazakhstan, which is part of national law and has priority over the criminal procedure legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the courts have the right to prevent the entire public or part of it for reasons of morality, public order (ordre public). In the absence of such exceptional circumstances, the proceedings should be open to the general public, including representatives of the media, and should not, for example, be limited to a certain category of persons.

Even when the public is denied access to trial, a court order, including basic conclusions, evidence and legal reasoning, should be made public (…) International guarantees of the right to a fair trial concern all accused (defendants) in all cases, in connection with which we call on the authorities of Kazakhstan to strictly comply with their international obligations in this area.”

HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

Massimov’s case: Trial Begins

On November 18, the ‘trial’ against arbitrarily detained Karim Massimov began at the City Court of Astana.

Despite international calls for his release and the decision adopted by the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Government of Kazakhstan began this politically motivated ‘trial.’

No information has yet been made public, as the case is proceeding behind ‘national security’ secrecy.

Central Asia watchers are monitoring the ‘trial’ against Massimov, as an example of Kazakhstan’s lack of commitment to international rule of law and due process.

HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

Massimov’s Case: Josep Borrell Raises Arbitrary Detention

During an official visit to Astana, Kazakhstan on November 17, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell met with representatives of civil society and human rights activists ahead of his meeting with Kazakhstan President Tokayev.

As reported by the Deputy Director of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights, Borrell paid special attention to the case of the arbitrarily detained Karim Massimov. The latter was detained on January 5, 2022, alongside 10,000 others.

In a press conference at the conclusion of his visit, Borrell continued to call on Kazakhstan to conduct an independent and transparent investigation into the tragic events of January this year. In order for Kazakhstan to turn the page, there must be justice and accountability.”

International calls for the immediate and unconditional release of Karim Massimov continue. The Government of Kazakhstan must enact the decision of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and others by releasing Massimov, to demonstrate adherence to international rule of law and the defense of human rights. Alternatively, the EU and others will have to reassess their investment and trade relationships in Kazakhstan.

HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

No Peace Without Justice joins call for the immediate and unconditional release of Karim Massimov and all other prisoners arbitrarily detained.

Following the mass protests which swept the country in January, thousands of peaceful demonstrators were detained, as well as prominent officials such as Karim Massimov, former Chief of the National Security Committee (KNB) and two-time Prime Minister.

Massimov, along with many hundreds of demonstrators, remains in prison, held on uncorroborated and clearly politically motivated charges, raising strong concerns about serious breaches of international norms related to due and fair judicial procedures, independence of the judiciary and the rule of law.

On 28 October, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an opinion adopted in early September determining that Massimov had been arbitrarily deprived of liberty and urging for its immediate and unconditional release. NPWJ calls on the authorities of Kazakhstan to enact this opinion as well as to release all other individuals prosecuted and detained on arbitrary grounds.

As called for by the European Parliament, they should also ensure impartial and transparent investigation into the alleged widespread human rights violations (including the excessive use of force, arbitrary detentions, torture and ill-treatment, due process violations and other abuses) that occurred during and in response to the January events and hold accountableall those responsible. Impunity is not an option in the path towards democracy, the rule of law and the respect of individual freedoms and human rights.

HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

Fight Impunity – #FreeKarimMassimov

Fight Impunity, founded by former Members of the European Parliament, “is built on the necessity to promote the fight against impunity for serious violations of human rights and crimes against humanity having the principle of accountability as a central pillar of the architecture of international justice.”

Fight Impunity calls on the Government of Kazakhstan to release Karim Massimov, held in arbitrary detention since January 5, 2022.

“@UNHumanRights has called for former KZ PM Karim Massimov to be released immediately. The international community is looking for Kazakhstan to demonstrate its commitment to the international rule of law #FreeKarimMassimov”

HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

Massimov’s Case: Transferred to Court in Non-Compliance with the United Nations

Kazakhstan’s General Prosecutor’s Office announced that it approved the indictment against Massimov and sent the case to the Specialized Interdistrict Criminal Court of Astana for consideration.

This action is in direct non-compliance with the opinion of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, who have called for Massimov’s immediate and unconditional release.

Karim Massimov, who suffers from severe chronic coronary artery disease, should also be granted immediate release on humanitarian grounds under Kazakhstani law.

If the authorities of Kazakhstan choose to go to trial, they are rejecting the decision of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. President Tokayev spoke of the importance he places in such institutions at the 77th UN General Assembly in September 2022, stating that “Kazakhstan is ready to cooperate with all relevant actors (in the UN) in a spirit of inclusiveness, multilateralism and goodwill.”

In the case that Kazakhstan moves forward with the “top secret” trial against Massimov, I call on transparency and openness to international observation.

HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

Massimov’s Case: UN calls for immediate release

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention “called on the Government of Kazakhstan to take urgent action to ensure the immediate unconditional release of Mr. Karim Massimov.

The deprivation of liberty of Mr. Karim Massimov, being in contravention of articles 3, 9, 10 and 11 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 9 and 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is arbitrary and falls within categories I and III.

The Working Group considers that, taking into account all the circumstances of the case, the appropriate remedy would be to release Mr. Massimov immediately and accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations, in accordance with international law.

The Working Group urges the Government to ensure a full and independent investigation of the circumstances surrounding the arbitrary deprivation of liberty of Mr. Massimov and to take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of his rights.”

President Tokayev worked in Geneva for the United Nations and in his speech at the 77th UN General Asssembly last month, stated that “Kazakhstan is ready to cooperate with all relevant actors (in the UN) in a spirit of inclusiveness, multilateralism and goodwill.”

https://www.ohchr.org/sites/default/files/documents/issues/detention-wg/opinions/session94/2022-10-28/A-HRC-WGAD-2022-57-Kazakhstan-Advance-Edited-Version.pdf

HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

Massimov’s Case: End of “Investigation”

On August 25, the National Security Committee of Kazakhstan published a press release, stating that the formal “investigation” into the alleged case against Dr. Karim Massimov has concluded and that his detention has been prolonged until October 6 for a period of case familiarization.

Dr. Massimov suffers from a severe diagnosis that should grant him house arrest during the pre-trial phase, which has not been granted in the last 8 months of his arbitrary detention, despite international calls.

The numerous documented violations of Karim’s rights during the investigation should be considered as grounds for the immediate cessation of the case against him.

 

HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

Massimov’s Case: Arbitrary Detention Period Expired

Karim Massimov has been arbitrarily detained since January 5, 2022. The latest official announcement stated that his detention was prolonged until July 6, 2022.

As of July 18, no public information is available on the extension of Karim Massimov’s detention.

For over 6 months, Massimov has been held arbitrarily in a remand prison in solitary confinement, while his health condition continues to deteriorate.

HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

Massimov case: compliance with the principles of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Massimov case: the purpose of this article is to reveal the problem of Kazakhstan compliance with norms and strict adherence to the letter of the law. On June 5, Kazakhstan held a referendum in which citizens of the country voted for the adoption of the New Constitution, the main purpose of which is to give a historic start to New Kazakhstan, the Second Republic, as well as to mark the end of the Nazarbayev era, leaving behind a system that is mired in widespread corruption.

Did the second President of Kazakhstan do it? In general, yes. The goal has been achieved. 77% with a turnout of 68% voted for New Kazakhstan. But if you look at the figures regarding the electorate, it is more than half (52%), which actually reflects that Kazakhstani society has not yet consolidated around the second President and remains divided.

The main reason for this is the lack of a single official narrative on the January events for more than 6 months, the lack of transparent investigation, accompanied by murders, torture, arbitrary detentions of participants in January protests. To the international reaction about these events, the response of the official authorities of Kazakhstan – reforms of the judicial and the law enforcement system, there will be new market and equal rules of the game for participants in the economy, new rules of political and open competition in Parliament, for the implementation of which a new stage of rulemaking is being launched. Is it really true that it is necessary to wait for changes and that the current system does not allow transparent justice to be upheld?

If we analyze Kazakhstan’s criminal legislation, with the exception of some individual points, it complies with the principles of human rights protection and the administration of justice on the principles of equality of all before the law and equality of both defense and prosecution. Moreover, in Kazakhstan, the principles of the presumption of innocence, the supremacy of the Constitutional Rights of citizens are put above criminal legislation, while prohibiting any actions aimed at humiliating the honor and pleading dignity of a person who participates in criminal proceedings. It is also prohibited to use any evidence obtained through torture, deception, threats and intimidation as evidence of guilt.

Compliance with these principles would be enough to stop all criminal cases against many innocent victims of law enforcement agencies of citizens of Kazakhstan. If the reality of Kazakhstan was strictly implemented by the letter of the law, then for violation of the same principles, the judicial system of any other democratic country would declare all these criminal cases invalid and illegal.

As already recorded by international human rights organizations, the Qantar2022 group – there are arbitrary detentions, people under torture, threats for confessions.

Even with regard to Karim Massimov and the deputy chairmans of the KNB, despite the attention of the UN working group on arbitrary detentions, disregard of the rule of law is present, disrupting the unshakable principles of criminal investigation. Due to the secrecy of the case, it is still unclear why Massimov is charged under the articles of treason with clarification about the transition to the side of the enemy in armed time and why is the charge being built on an attempted state seizure with clarification in order to obtain personal gain? Are these accusations related to the January events? 

In January, after 6 months, there is still no single official version of events: therefore, there is a lot of conspiracy and assumptions. Unfortunately, which version of the January events worked and their connection with Massimov is unlikely to be available to publicly. At the same time, in March this year, information directly related to the investigation was published on social networks. In particular, photos of money and residences were published, which are allegedly evidence of an economic offense. On March 14, the Prosecutor General announced that Massimov would be charged with 17 years in prison, as if it had already been resolved.

This whole situation proves that the problem of Kazakhstan is not in new laws, but in compliance with norms and strict adherence to the letter of the law. Until President Tokayev begins to correct the situation related to the victims of the January events, it will be very difficult to start the Second Republic.

HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

Massimov’s Case: End of Official Period of Detention

June 6, 2022 marks 150 days that Dr. Karim Massimov has been arbitrarily detained in Kazakhstan, same as hundreds of political prisoners in the country following Bloody January.

Despite calls for an international, independent investigation into January events, there is a lack of publicly available information into the January events. 

Dr. Massimov is held in a remand prison on politically-motivated charges. His court-sanctioned period of detention concluded on June 6. 

HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

Massimov’s Case: United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions to Consider Massimov’s Case

Following David A. Merkel’s petition to the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, Dr. Karim Massimov’s case will be considered during the Group’s 94th Session, which will take place in Geneva between 29 August and 2 September 2022.

Karim Massimov was detained on January 5th, following widespread unrest in the country. The UN Working Group petition was submitted with the support of Lord Pannick QC and Timothy Otty QC as legal counsel.

Dr. Massimov’s case serves as an example for all arbitrary detainees who have been criminally prosecuted, arrested, and detained following the events in January in Kazakhstan.

HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

Massimov’s Case: Detention Prolonged Until June 6, 2022

According to a May 11 press release of the National Security Committee (KNB), Dr. Karim Massimov’s detention in a remand prison has been prolonged until June 6, 2022. 

The press release states that Dr. Massimov is “subject to pre-trial investigations into actions aimed at forcibly seizing power and abuse of office.”

On May 20, 2022 Human Rights Watch, called for an open, independent investigation into the January events:

“The Kazakhstan government has also failed to hold to account those responsible for serious human rights violations during the violence and unrest in January, when 200 people were killed and hundreds of people reportedly tortured during a series of protests. The government should immediately open an independent investigation, that includes international and national experts.”

Karim Massimov’s health condition, including severe chronic coronary artery disease, requires immediate independent medical attention.

HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

Massimov’s case: End of Detention Authorization

Karim Massimov’s detention ended today, on May 6, 2022. Karim Massimov, former chairman of the National Security Committee, was imprisoned in a pre-trial detention center on the night of January 5-6, 2022, although it was publicly announced on January 8.

Massimov is held in the pre-trial detention center of the National Security Council, like any other detainee. According to official information, he has not complained about the conditions of detention, although an independent lawyer was never presented to him during these 4 months of imprisonment.

There is still no information on how the investigation is conducted. The authorities explain this by the fact that Massimov’s case is classified as a state secret.

Information about Karim Massimov’s state of health appeared in the press – he is seriously ill, he has been diagnosed with severe coronary heart disease, which progressed after covid.

Is Massimov’s detention extended? So far, there are no official statements on the part of the investigative authorities about this, nor is there any reaction to the deterioration of his health.

HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

Massimov’s Case: British Parliamentarians Appeal to the President of Kazakhstan

British Parliamentarians appealed to the President of Kazakhstan on the case of Karim Massimov.

Members of the British Parliament underscored the important role Massimov has played in the modernization of the Republic of Kazakhstan and recalled Massimovs great work in building good relations between Kazakhstan and the West.

Parliamentarians called on Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev to resolve Karim Massimovs situation, respecting basic human rights in accordance with international human rights law.

The Parliamentariansappeal was sent to the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan through the Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Massimovs case is closely followed by the democratic international community. The violations committed are recorded and analyzed by lawyers.

Contrary to article 10 of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights and article 13 of the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan, which proclaim the right to fair counsel, Massimov has not been allowed to have impartial counsel.

His case is classified as «top secret», which paves the way for arbitrary detention and fabrication of accusations.

KarimMassimov.com, as well as independent media, will continue to inform further developments from the international community in support of Karim Massimov.

Growing international support for Karim Massimov gives additional hope to all political prisoners in Kazakhstan. There should be an authoritative international monitoring mission on human rights in Kazakhstan.

HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

Karim Massimov’s Health Condition Requires Immediate Release

Karim Massimov suffers from multiple chronic diseases, including severe chronic coronary artery heart disease, which was diagnosed in the spring of 2021. His health diagnoses require an immediate release from detention on humanitarian grounds. 

Karim Massimov’s doctors have confirmed, in writing, the need for Massimov’s immediate release on account of his severe chronic coronary artery heart disease, as well as other diseases, which pose a serious risk of fatality. The doctors are available to provide testimonials on this issue.

Appropriate documentation has been filed to the state accordingly. In addition, international bodies and foreign governments have been informed of this issue. 

HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

End of the authorized period of detention

The detention of Karim Massimov in the pre-trial detention center in Nur-Sultan expired on April 6. Was his detention extended and on what basis? 90 days after Karim Massimov’s arbitrary detention, it is unclear whether his case has been extended by a designated court.

The public and close friends and family of Karim Massimov learned of the extension of his detention on March 24 in a KNB press release, almost a month after the secret court’s decision was made.

90 days after the detention of Karim Massimov, the public is paying attention to his case as a show trial of the arbitrary detention and detention of citizens after the January events.

HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

Massimov’s Case: The Right to Defense

86 days after Karim Massimov’s arbitrary detention, a lawyer of his choice was denied access to a “top secret” file.

The lawyer chosen has a local reputation for being the most experienced in known national security cases. However, two months after the lawyer filed an application for admission to the case, his admission was denied for unreasonable reasons. Massimov relies only on a state-appointed lawyer.

The only way for Massimov’s close friends and family to get information about his case is through KNB press releases in the media. According to the latest press release, Massimov’s detention was extended until April 6.

The Karim Massimov case sets a dangerous legal precedent where anyone can be arbitrarily detained and denied the right to a lawyer.

HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

Amnesty Kazakhstan: People’s Petition to Tokayev

Almaty activists published a petition addressed to President Tokayev on the Change.org platform. Almaty was the most affected city in the tragic January events, affected by the illegal actions of the authorities (arbitrary detentions, arrests, torture, and murders). The persecution of citizens continues.

Civic activists ask Tokayev to take a wise step in order to avoid a split in society and a civil war. The authors of the petition ask Tokayev to announce a nationwide amnesty for all those who are persecuted in connection with the January events. By March 29, the petition had garnered 935 courageous supporting signatures across the country.

“Now is the time for everyone to unite, the time when we need to turn the page of the past and work together to save the country in the conditions of the war between Russia and Ukraine and the devastation that will follow with it!” the petition says.

HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

Request for UN Special Rapporteur on Torture to visit Kazakhstan

As reported earlier, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention sent a request regarding the arbitrary detention of Karim Massimov to the Government of the Republic Kazakhstan via diplomatic channels. No later than June 6, 2022, the UN should receive an official and exhaustive response from the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Meanwhile, an international group of lawyers addressed the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nilz Melzer, on the “arbitrary detention of Karim Massimov and thousands of other citizens who have been subjected to systematic violations of human rights in Kazakhstan”. In particular, the appeal calls on the Special Rapporteur to visit Kazakhstan and conduct an independent investigation into mass human rights violations committed during the January protests, including “arbitrary detentions, torture and inhumane treatment”.

They further called for the UN Special Report into these abuses to include findings from ongoing independent investigations and to be prepared with the participation of public activists, experts and relatives of the victims.

HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention appeals to the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan in defense of Karim Massimov

No later than June 6, the Government of Kazakhstan must respond to the accusation of arbitrary detention and human rights violations related to Mr. Massimov, in accordance with the charter of the UN Working Group (1).

For the first time following the illegal detention of Karim Massimov, a legal analysis of the accompanying circumstances is to be published. Violations of the law committed during the investigation continue to be recorded.

Responding to the requests of Kazakhstani human rights defenders and lawyers, we publish excerpts from the petition. We hope that the work of highly qualified lawyers will help to release not only Karim Massimov, but also all citizens of Kazakhstan who were subjected to illegal criminal prosecutions in connection with the events of January. While innocent people are behind bars, the January tragedy persists.

According to international norms and Kazakhstani legislation, all evidence presented by the prosecution is considered invalid if it is obtained in violation of the law. To be clear, we are talking about illegal detentions and arrests, non-admission of lawyers, torture, official forgery and secret courts classified as “Top Secret”.

SUMMARY

Mr. Massimov, who was twice Prime Minister of Kazakhstan and a prominent politician, was arrested and detained by the security forces of Kazakhstan around January 5, 2022 amid large-scale political unrest in the country. For 72 days, he was held incommunicado without access to his family members, his chosen lawyer or doctor. His family knows nothing about the conditions in which he is held.

Within a few days after Mr. Massimov’s initial detention, the National Security Committee (2) issued a series of vague statements to the press confirming that Mr. Massimov was detained during the investigation on charges of committing “treason”, “attempt to seize power” and “abuse of power”.

On January 8, 2022, an unnamed and unidentified judicial body allegedly authorized the continued pre-trial detention of Mr. Massimov. The original ruling and its reasons were not made public. The date of his trial has not yet been set.

The arbitrary nature of Mr. Massimov’s imprisonment is obvious due to the lack of any legal grounds for his arrest and detention, as well as gross violations of due process that have characterized the trial against him so far.

The arrest and detention of Mr. Massimov are part of the larger suppression of political opponents in Kazakhstan. Faced with large-scale unrest, the authorities went to detain thousands of people whose guilt has not been established (3). By initiating an unfounded criminal trial against Mr. Massimov, detaining him before trial, the authorities use the charges against Mr. Massimov as a pretext to suppress any political threat he may pose. The only possible conclusion is that the arrest and detention of Mr. Massimov are politically motivated.

Mr. Massimov’s case meets the criteria of the Working Group regarding arbitrary detention (4) under categories I and III of the Working Group’s methods of work: (1) Kazakhstan cannot specify any legal basis, arrest and detention of Mr. Massimov (category I violation); and (2) non-compliance with international fair trial standards is so serious that it makes imprisonment arbitrary (category III violation).

Given all the circumstances, the available information constitutes a “sufficiently reliable” argument that Mr. Massimov was arbitrarily deprived of his liberty and that the continuation of such deprivation of liberty poses a serious threat to his health, physical or psychological integrity and/or his life.

The UN Working Group adopted the relevant petition and, taking into account the serious issues raised therein, applied its urgent action procedure so that the petition could be considered urgently to ensure respect for Mr. Massimov’s right to life and to physical and mental integrity.

REFERENCES

1. Resolutions 1997/50, 2000/36 and 2003/31 were adopted by the UN Commission on Human Rights to extend the mandate of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention. The Human Rights Council, which “acquired … all mandates, mechanisms, functions and responsibilities of the Commission on Human Rights.” in accordance with UN General Assembly Resolution 60/251, General Assembly Resolution 60/251, §6 (15 March 2006), extended its mandate through Resolutions 6/4, 15/18, 20/16, 24/7, 33/30 and 42/22

2. National Security Committee, Press Statement, January 8, 2022: https://www.gov.kz/memleket/entities/knb/press/news/details/309530? Lang=kk; Security Committee, Press Statement, January 13, 2022: https://www. gov.kz/memleket/entities/ knb/press/news/details/311845? Lang=kk

3. Human Rights Watch, “Kazakhstan: Arbitrary arrests and beatings of protesters”, February 1, 2022: https://www.hrw.org/news/2022/02/01/kazakhstan-protesters-arbitrally-arrested- beaten; Amnesty International, “Kazakhstan: The authorities must release arbitrarily detained protesters and respect human rights in the context of ongoing riots”, January 12, 2022: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2022/01/kazakhstan- authorities-must-release- arbitrarily-detained-protestors-and-respect-human-rights-amid-ongoingay- unrest; The protest, “The President of Kazakhstan said that he issued an order “open fire to kill”, January 7, 2022-kaas.the-de-de-dor-de-

4. UN General Assembly, Working methods of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, A/HRC/33/66, July 12, 2016, §8

HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

January events in Kazakhstan – was there a foreign trace?

On March 14 in the Majilis, the Prosecutor General reported on the progress of the investigation into the January events. The prosecutor’s report did not clarify many of the issues of concern raised by the population.

On February 10, Tokayev affirmed that foreign militants played a key role in the riots: “It was a carefully prepared operation of international terrorists, bandits who attacked Kazakhstan in order to, first of all, undermine the constitutional order and, of course, commit a coup d’état” (Source: Kremlin.ru). Putin, for his part, supported this version: “Kazakhstan has become, without any exaggeration, a victim of some international gangs that took advantage of the difficult situation within the country. But nevertheless, the situation has been restored… Russia, as one of the CSTO countries, in accordance with Article 4 of the treaty, offered Kazakhstan help” (Source: Kremlin.ru). Moreover, the version was supported by a statement of the head of the Foreign Intelligence, Sergei Naryshkin, that Russia informed the countries of Central Asia about “the threat of a potential terrorist attack from Syrian militants, ISIS in particular”. Naryshkin said that the coordination of operations was carried out from abroad.

However, when asked by journalists about foreign terrorists on March 14, the Prosecutor General replied: “They were not there. Where did you get this information from?”. The public is bewildered. Why does the Prosecutor General’s version contradict that of the President? The country’s top leadership does not have a coherent version of the events. What credibility can the investigation have if there is confusion on even basic facts? Perhaps the investigation into the January events is being used to settle accounts by politically undesirable representatives of the Kazakhstan elite.

In addition, the CSTO’s participation remains unclear. “There are around 300 thousand armed forces in Kazakhstan” as was declared by the Member of the Majilis, Azamat Abildayev, who asked of the Prosecutor General: “Why was the authority waiting for 2,000 CSTO peacekeepers to arrive, when there were plenty of local forces?” Moreover, as the Prosecutor General stated, the CSTO forces not participate in the anti-terrorist operation. Geopolitics enters the scene. It sets a dangerous precedent foreign troops participating to resolve issues within Kazakhstan. This precedent could later be used for wider interference in the internal affairs of the country. Pandora’s box is open.

Another cause for bewilderment is the introduction of an anti-terrorist regime throughout Kazakhstan, which was in force until January 19, by a decision of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief. 70 days after the events, no terrorists, alive or dead, were presented to the public. The head of the Special Prosecutor’s service answered the journalist’s question that “there are no ongoing cases on terrorism”.

The most pressing issue of concern to the public is the torture of detainees following the January events. So far, officials have admitted that eight people died from torture during detention. The National Security Committee has once again been blamed, when it is well known that the Ministry of Internal Defence carried out arrests and detentions in this investigation. The issue requires an independent investigation involving lawyers, human rights defenders, and relatives of the detained.

The report of the Prosecutor General held in the Majilis leaves the public with more questions than answers. There is no clear position on key issues of the investigation. All that is left is guesswork. There is a possible desire to hide the true picture of what happened. That is why open investigations are imperative. There was not even an answer to a direct question about who was the main culprit of the events.

This assessment was conducted by independent analysts. Next chapter coming soon. For more information, view Case Background.

HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

What’s going on with Karim Massimov’s case?

As is known from official reports, Massimov was arrested on January 8 by court order. The detention order expired on March 8. At the moment, the public has not been informed about the extension of his arrest and detention. It is only known that Massimov is still in the pre-trial detention center of the National Security Council. There is no information about his legal status.

Was there an order to extend his arrest, or were there no such court proceedings? The public was not informed and remains in the dark. All information continues to be classified. Meanwhile, Karim Massimov continues to be held in custody illegally, and any semblance of due process to extend the arrest has been violated. This situation creates a dangerous precedent, where citizens of Kazakhstan can be arrested without legal basis, with cases heard in secret court proceedings that may or may not take place.

The UN Working Group has now accepted a petition for arbitrary detention in relation to this case. The international community considers Karim Massimov’s plight a further example of the rising persecution of political prisoners around the world.

HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

The arbitrary detention of Karim Massimov is being considered by the UN

The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention accepted a petition arguing that Massimov’s arrest and detention qualify as politically motivated and that he is being denied adequate legal protection.

The petition contains a request to the UN Working Group to send an urgent appeal to the Government of Kazakhstan, in accordance with UN Commission on Human Rights Resolution 1997/50, to recommend that Kazakhstan release Karim Massimov, and provide an opportunity for full protection in court, in accordance with paragraph 2 of Article 13 of the Constitution of Kazakhstan.

This question concerns not only Karim Massimo, but the fate of thousands of citizens persecuted and illegally detained in the aftermath of the January protests. The fact that the petition is being considered by the UN gives hope to all victims of illegal detentions.

HRW EU Director Philippe Dam Joins Call for Immediate Release of Karim Massimov

The allegations against Karim Massimov are false and baseless

The charge of attempted violent seizure of power (under Article 179, meaning changes to the constitutional order through use of media, with a maximum sentence of 17 years and revoked citizenship) is absurd. Karim Massimov could never be the beneficiary of a seizure of power. Under the Constitution, there are ineliminable obstacles to him becoming even an interim President.

If we assume that the purpose of the escalated protests in January was to force President Tokayev to resign, then the three following individuals would have been in line to become interim President:

  1. Head of the Senate – Maulen Ashymbayev, a close ally and protégé of Tokayev.
  2. (if first option refuses) Head of the Mazhilis – Nurlan Nigmatulin, a known close ally of First President Nazarbayev.
  3. (if the first two options refuse) Head of the Government – Askar Mamin, another close Nazarbayev ally without great political aspirations.

The position of Maulen Ashymbayev in the succession line is a very strong obstacle to any suggestion of the attempted removal of President Tokayev from power.

This assessment was conducted by independent analysts. Next chapter coming soon. For more information, view Case Background.