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New legislation tightens restrictions on NGOs in Kazakhstan

This statement was originally published on freedomhouse.org on 25 September 2015.

In response to the initial parliamentary passage of legislation increasing state control of non-governmental organizations in Kazakhstan, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“Considering Kazakhstan's already severe restrictions on freedom of association, the last thing the state needs is another way to harass organizations it dislikes,” said Robert Herman, vice president for international programs. “The laws would ignore recommendations made in June by the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of assembly and association, when he called on Kazakhstan's government to reduce, not increase, its regulation of civic groups."

Background:

In September 23, 2015, the lower house of Kazakhstan's parliament, the Mazhilis, passed amendments to several measures tightening control over non-governmental activities. The legislation may create a single “operator” responsible for disbursing all grants from any source, foreign or domestic; require NGOs to submit information to a government database, at the risk of otherwise being fined or closed; and empower the Ministry of Culture and Sports to monitor NGOs' activities.

Kazakhstan's is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2015, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2015, Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2014, and receives a democracy score of 6.61 on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2015.

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