Considering the power available to the Nazarbayev regime, Kazakstan's
observation of international human-rights standards in the mid-1990s
was given a relatively high rating. In one celebrated case of
attempted censorship, historian Karishal Asanov was tried three
times before being acquitted on a charge of defaming the president
for an article he published in a Moscow newspaper.
Although antigovernment activities of the nationalist-religious
group Alash have been actively discouraged, there have been no
recorded instances of extrajudicial killings or disappearances,
or of unsubstantiated grounds for arrest. Prisons are generally
overcrowded because of the eruption of crime in the republic,
but international organizations record no instances of torture
or of deliberately degrading treatment.
The state security organs continue some of their Soviet-era
ways; there have been complaints that proper procedures for search
warrants are not always followed, and some credible accusations
have been made about tampering with or planting evidence in criminal
proceedings. In general, however, the republic's investigative
and security organs seem to be making an effort to follow the
constitution's guidance on the inviolability of person, property,
Free movement about the country is permitted, although residence
is still controlled by the Soviet-era registration system, which
requires citizens to have official permission to live in a particular
city. In practice, this system has made it almost impossible for
outsiders to move into Almaty.
The exercise of political rights in Kazakstan is closely controlled,
and the number of parties is limited by registration restrictions.
Imposition of presidential rule and the general strengthening
of the president's role have limited popular political participation.
The Russian population has attempted to depict the imposition
of language laws and the refusal to grant dual citizenship as
violations of human rights, but these claims generally have not
been accepted by the international community. Several Russian
political groups and human rights alleged that irregularities
in the August 1995 constitutional referendum invalidated the document's
ratification on human rights grounds. The nine official foreign
observers reported no major irregularities, however.
Data as of March 1996