Tuesday, May 21, 2024
 
 

Kazakhstan: New law to protect women and children against domestic violence

Bishimbayev case moblizes Kazakh society
Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev signed on April 15 key legislation largely criminalizing domestic abuse, ensuring women’s rights and safety of children.

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Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has recently signed key legislation largely criminalizing domestic abuse, ensuring women’s rights and safety of children which has been hailed by the EU and western analysts as showing progress on key issues.

“The mobilization of Kazakh society in favour of the criminalization of domestic violence showed that people take this issue very seriously and want a change,” Peter Stano, Lead Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, told NE Global on April 19. “We hope that it marks a turning point both in terms of clear rejection of domestic violence and in terms of the citizens’ involvement in public affairs,” Stano added.

He noted, however, while the process is moving in the right direction, it is now crucial to ensure a proper implementation of the law to support the change.

The spokesperson for EU’s Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, pointed out that in the last several years many important reforms in Kazakhstan have been enacted. “EU partnership with Kazakhstan is based on the Enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement, which enables cooperation across a wide range of areas, including on human rights and the rule of law,” Stano said. “Changing geopolitical circumstances provided an additional dynamic in our relations over the last couple of years. Our partnership is strengthening and our cooperation is growing,” he added.

Meanwhile, Karolina Kluczewska, a postdoctoral researcher at Ghent University in Belgium and a research associate at the Institute of Middle East, Central Asia and Caucasus Studies, University of St Andrews in the UK, told NE Global on April 19 these are important legislative changes in that they reinstate criminal liability for violence against women, after it was removed from the country’s criminal code in 2017.

“The changes also toughen the punishment for the violence committed against minors. The amendments were widely debated in the public in the last few years. They also come at an important moment, given that societal discussions on gender-based violence and calls for zero tolerance resurged after a recent case of a brutal killing of a wife of the former Minister of National Economy, Quandyq Bishimbayev,” Kluczewska said.

Bishimbayev case highlights domestic violence problem

Bishimbayev is accused of beating his wife, Saltanat Nukenova, to death. The high-profile trial in Kazakhstan highlighted the domestic violence problem in the Central Asian country, sparking a heated discussion while Kazakhs are closely watching the pending verdict.

According to statistics from the United Nations, about 400 women die in Kazakhstan as a result of domestic violence every year.

Kluczewska told NE Global these laws are thus in the first place a reaction to domestic dynamics, and not induced by the EU or other external actors. “However, it remains to be seen how the laws will be implemented in practice and how responsive law enforcement bodies will be to cases of gender-based violence, as it is at this level that instances of abuse are often neglected,” she said.

Council of Europe welcomes reforms

Highlighting the robust cooperation between Kazakhstan and the institutions of the Council of Europe, the latter in a written declaration on April 17 commended the substantial progress made in democratic and political reforms as an integral part of building a just and fair Kazakhstan.

“We consider Kazakhstan as a key partner in the region and welcome the adoption by the Committee of the Ministers of the Neighbourhood Co-operation Priorities with Kazakhstan for the period 2024-2027,” the statement noted, adding: “We encourage Kazakhstan to adhere to the principles of inclusivity and equality for all, which correlate with the values of the Council of Europe.”

 

 

 

 

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