By far the largest of the Central Asian republics of the former Soviet Union, independent Kazakstan is the world's ninth-largest nation in geographic area. The population density of Kazakstan is among the lowest in the world, partly because the country includes large areas of inhospitable terrain. Kazakstan is located deep within the Asian continent, with coastline only on the landlocked Caspian Sea. The proximity of unstable countries such as Afghanistan, Tajikistan, and Azerbaijan to the west and south further isolates Kazakstan.
Until the arrival of Russians in the eighteenth century, the history of Kazakstan was determined by the movements, conflicts, and alliances of Turkic and Mongol tribes. The nomadic tribal society of what came to be the Kazak people then suffered increasingly frequent incursions by the Russian Empire, ultimately being included in that empire and the Soviet Union that followed it.
Humans have inhabited present-day Kazakstan since the earliest Stone Age, generally pursuing the nomadic pastoralism for which the region's climate and terrain are best suited. The earliest well-documented state in the region was the Turkic Kaganate, which came into existence in the sixth century A.D. The Qarluqs, a confederation of Turkic tribes, established a state in what is now eastern Kazakstan in 766. In the eighth and ninth centuries, portions of southern Kazakstan were conquered by Arabs, who also introduced Islam. The Oghuz Turks controlled western Kazakstan from the ninth through the eleventh centuries; the Kimak and Kipchak peoples, also of Turkic origin, controlled the east at roughly the same time. The large central desert of Kazakstan is still called Dashti-Kipchak, or the Kipchak Steppe.
In the late ninth century, the Qarluq state was destroyed by invaders who established the large Qarakhanid state, which occupied a region known as Transoxania, the area north and east of the Oxus River (the present-day Syrdariya), extending into what is now China. Beginning in the early eleventh century, the Qarakhanids fought constantly among themselves and with the Seljuk Turks to the south. In the course of these conflicts, parts of present-day Kazakstan shifted back and forth between the combatants. The Qarakhanids, who accepted Islam and the authority of the Arab Abbasid caliphs of Baghdad during their dominant period, were conquered in the 1130s by the Karakitai, a Turkic confederation from northern China. In the mid-twelfth century, an independent state of Khorazm (also seen as Khorezm or Khwarazm) along the Oxus River broke away from the weakening Karakitai, but the bulk of the Karakitai state lasted until the invasion of Chinggis (Genghis) Khan in 1219-21.
After the Mongol capture of the Karakitai state, Kazakstan fell under the control of a succession of rulers of the Mongolian Golden Horde, the western branch of the Mongol Empire. (The horde, or zhuz , is the precursor of the present-day clan, which is still an important element of Kazak society--see Population and Society, this ch.) By the early fifteenth century, the ruling structure had split into several large groups known as khanates, including the Nogai Horde and the Uzbek Khanate.
The present-day Kazaks became a recognizable group in the mid-fifteenth century, when clan leaders broke away from Abul Khayr, leader of the Uzbeks, to seek their own territory in the lands of Semirech'ye, between the Chu and Talas rivers in present-day southeastern Kazakstan. The first Kazak leader was Khan Kasym (r. 1511-23), who united the Kazak tribes into one people. In the sixteenth century, when the Nogai Horde and Siberian khanates broke up, clans from each jurisdiction joined the Kazaks. The Kazaks subsequently separated into three new hordes: the Great Horde, which controlled Semirech'ye and southern Kazakstan; the Middle Horde, which occupied north-central Kazakstan; and the Lesser Horde, which occupied western Kazakstan.
Russian traders and soldiers began to appear on the northwestern edge of Kazak territory in the seventeenth century, when Cossacks established the forts that later became the cities of Oral (Ural'sk) and Atyrau (Gur'yev). Russians were able to seize Kazak territory because the khanates were preoccupied by Kalmyk invaders of Mongol origin, who in the late sixteenth century had begun to move into Kazak territory from the east. Forced westward in what they call their Great Retreat, the Kazaks were increasingly caught between the Kalmyks and the Russians. In 1730 Abul Khayr, one of the khans of the Lesser Horde, sought Russian assistance. Although Abul Khayr's intent had been to form a temporary alliance against the stronger Kalmyks, the Russians gained permanent control of the Lesser Horde as a result of his decision. The Russians conquered the Middle Horde by 1798, but the Great Horde managed to remain independent until the 1820s, when the expanding Quqon (Kokand) Khanate to the south forced the Great Horde khans to choose Russian protection, which seemed to them the lesser of two evils.
The Kazaks began to resist Russian control almost as soon as it became complete. The first mass uprising was led by Khan Kene (Kenisary Kasimov) of the Middle Horde, whose followers fought the Russians between 1836 and 1847. Khan Kene is now considered a Kazak national hero.
In 1863 Russia elaborated a new imperial policy, announced in the Gorchakov Circular, asserting the right to annex "troublesome" areas on the empire's borders. This policy led immediately to the Russian conquest of the rest of Central Asia and the creation of two administrative districts, the Guberniya (Governorate General) of Turkestan and the Steppe District. Most of present-day Kazakstan was in the Steppe District, and parts of present-day southern Kazakstan were in the Governorate General.
In the early nineteenth century, the construction of Russian forts began to have a destructive effect on the Kazak traditional economy by limiting the once-vast territory over which the nomadic tribes could drive their herds and flocks. The final disruption of nomadism began in the 1890s, when many Russian settlers were introduced into the fertile lands of northern and eastern Kazakstan. Between 1906 and 1912, more than a half-million Russian farms were started as part of the reforms of Russian minister of the interior Petr Stolypin, shattering what remained of the traditional Kazak way of life.
Starving and displaced, many Kazaks joined in the general Central Asian resistance to conscription into the Russian imperial army, which the tsar ordered in July 1916 as part of the effort against Germany in World War I. In late 1916, Russian forces brutally suppressed the widespread armed resistance to the taking of land and conscription of Central Asians. Thousands of Kazaks were killed, and thousands of others fled to China and Mongolia.
In 1917 a group of secular nationalists called the Alash Orda (Horde of Alash), named for a legendary founder of the Kazak people, attempted to set up an independent national government. This state lasted less than two years (1918-20) before surrendering to the Bolshevik authorities, who then sought to preserve Russian control under a new political system. The Kyrgyz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic was set up in 1920 and was renamed the Kazak Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic in 1925 when the Kazaks were differentiated officially from the Kyrgyz. (The Russian Empire recognized the ethnic difference between the two groups; it called them both "Kyrgyz" to avoid confusion between the terms "Kazak" and "Cossack.")
In 1925 the autonomous republic's original capital, Orenburg, was reincorporated into Russian territory. Almaty (called Alma-Ata during the Soviet period), a provincial city in the far southeast, became the new capital. In 1936 the territory was made a full Soviet republic. From 1929 to 1934, during the period when Soviet leader Joseph V. Stalin was trying to collectivize agriculture, Kazakstan endured repeated famines because peasants had slaughtered their livestock in protest against Soviet agricultural policy. In that period, at least 1.5 million Kazaks and 80 percent of the republic's livestock died. Thousands more Kazaks tried to escape to China, although most starved in the attempt.
Many European Soviet citizens and much of Russia's industry were relocated to Kazakstan during World War II, when Nazi armies threatened to capture all the European industrial centers of the Soviet Union. Groups of Crimean Tatars, Germans, and Muslims from the North Caucasus region were deported to Kazakstan during the war because it was feared that they would collaborate with the enemy. Many more non-Kazaks arrived in the years 1953-65, during the so-called Virgin Lands campaign of Soviet premier Nikita S. Khrushchev (in office 1956-64). Under that program, huge tracts of Kazak grazing land were put to the plow for the cultivation of wheat and other cereal grains. Still more settlers came in the late 1960s and 1970s, when the government paid handsome bonuses to workers participating in a program to relocate Soviet industry close to the extensive coal, gas, and oil deposits of Central Asia. One consequence of the decimation of the nomadic Kazak population and the in-migration of non-Kazaks was that by the 1970s Kazakstan was the only Soviet republic in which the eponymous nationality was a minority in its own republic.
Within the centrally controlled structure of the Soviet system, Kazakstan played a vital industrial and agricultural role; the vast coal deposits discovered in Kazakstani territory in the twentieth century promised to replace the depleted fuel reserves in the European territories of the union. The vast distances between the European industrial centers and coal fields in Kazakstan presented a formidable problem that was only partially solved by Soviet efforts to industrialize Central Asia. That endeavor left the newly independent Republic of Kazakstan a mixed legacy: a population that includes nearly as many Russians as Kazaks; the presence of a dominating class of Russian technocrats, who are necessary to economic progress but ethnically unassimilated; and a well-developed energy industry, based mainly on coal and oil, whose efficiency is inhibited by major infrastructural deficiencies.
Kazakstan has followed the same general political pattern as the other four Central Asian states. After declaring independence from the Soviet political structure completely dominated by Moscow and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) until 1991, Kazakstan retained the basic governmental structure and, in fact, most of the same leadership that had occupied the top levels of power in 1990. Nursultan Nazarbayev, first secretary of the Communist Party of Kazakstan (CPK) beginning in 1989, was elected president of the republic in 1991 and remained in undisputed power five years later. Nazarbayev took several effective steps to ensure his position. The constitution of 1993 made the prime minister and the Council of Ministers responsible solely to the president, and in 1995 a new constitution reinforced that relationship. Furthermore, opposition parties were severely limited by legal restrictions on their activities. Within that rigid framework, Nazarbayev gained substantial popularity by limiting the economic shock of separation from the security of the Soviet Union and by maintaining ethnic harmony, despite some discontent among Kazak nationalists and the huge Russian minority.
In the mid-1990s, Russia remained the most important sponsor of Kazakstan in economic and national security matters, but in such matters Nazarbayev also backed the strengthening of the multinational structures of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS--see Glossary), the loose confederation that succeeded the Soviet Union. As sensitive ethnic, national security, and economic issues cooled relations with Russia in the 1990s, Nazarbayev cultivated relations with China, the other Central Asian nations, and the West. Nevertheless, Kazakstan remains principally dependent on Russia.
Kazakstan entered the 1990s with vast natural resources, an underdeveloped industrial infrastructure, a stable but rigid political structure, a small and ethnically divided population, and a commercially disadvantageous geographic position. In the mid-1990s, the balance of those qualities remained quite uncertain.
The Constitution of Kazakhstan concentrates power in the presidency. President Nursultan Nazarbayev is the dominant political figure. The Constitution permits the President to dominate the legislature and judiciary, as well as regional and local governments; changes or amendments to the Constitution are nearly impossible without the President's consent. President Nazarbayev was elected to a new 7-year term in a 1999 election that fell far short of international standards. A June 2000 law allows the President to maintain certain policy prerogatives and a seat on the National Security Council after he leaves office. The Constitution limits Parliament's powers by precluding it from appropriating state money or lowering taxes without executive branch approval. However, Members of Parliament (M.P.'s) have the right to introduce legislation, and some bills introduced by M.P.'s have become laws. Parliamentary elections held in October 1999 were an improvement on the presidential election but still fell short of the country's commitments as a member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). During the year, experimental local akim (governor) elections were held in some rural areas; the OSCE and other international observers also criticized these elections as falling short of international commitments. The judiciary remained under the control of the President and the executive branch.
The country has a total population of approximately 15 million, and is rich in natural resources, particularly petroleum and minerals. The Government has made significant progress toward a market-based economy since independence; it successfully has privatized small- and medium-sized firms and many large-scale industrial complexes and has attracted significant foreign investment, primarily to the energy and minerals sectors. The agricultural sector, which represents approximately 10 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), has been slower to reform, because the Government has not established a legal basis for private agricultural land ownership. The average monthly wage in June was $117 (17,288 tenge) compared with an average monthly wage in 2000 of $95.14 (13,521 tenge). According to official data, 32 percent of the population lived below the minimum subsistence level in 2000, compared with 34 percent in 1999. Favorable world commodity prices in 2000 and during the year, as well as low inflation, a stable exchange rate, and signs of recovery in local industries, resulted in a GDP growth of 9.6 percent in 2000, from $1,135 in 1999 to $1,225 in 2000. Inflation has been under control and was 9.8 percent in 2000. Real GDP growth for the year is expected to be 10.2 percent, while annual inflation is forecast at approximately 7 percent.
By tradition the Kazaks are Sunni Muslims of the Hanafi school, and the Russians are Russian Orthodox. In 1994, some 47 percent of the population was Muslim, 44 percent was Russian Orthodox, and 2 percent was Protestant, mainly Baptist. Some Jews, Catholics, and Pentacostalists also live in Kazakstan; a Roman Catholic diocese was established in 1991. As elsewhere in the newly independent Central Asian states, the subject of Islam's role in everyday life, and especially in politics, is a delicate one in Kazakstan.
As part of the Central Asian population and the Turkic world, Kazaks are conscious of the role Islam plays in their identity, and there is strong public pressure to increase the role that faith plays in society. At the same time, the roots of Islam in many segments of Kazak society are not as deep as they are in neighboring countries. Many of the Kazak nomads, for instance, did not become Muslims until the eighteenth or even the nineteenth century, and urban Russified Kazaks, who by some counts constitute as much as 40 percent of the indigenous population, profess discomfort with some aspects of the religion even as they recognize it as part of their national heritage. Soviet authorities attempted to encourage a controlled form of Islam as a unifying force in the Central Asian societies while at the same time stifling the expression of religious beliefs. Since independence, religious activity has increased significantly. Construction of mosques and religious schools has accelerated in the 1990s, with financial help from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Egypt. Already in 1991, some 170 mosques were operating, more than half of them newly built; at that time, an estimated 230 Muslim communities were active in Kazakstan
In 1990 Nazarbayev, then party first secretary, created a state basis for Islam by removing Kazakstan from the authority of the Muslim Board of Central Asia, the Soviet-approved and politically oriented religious administration for all of Central Asia. Instead, Nazarbayev created a separate muftiate, or religious authority, for Kazak Muslims. However, Nazarbayev's choice of Ratbek hadji Nysanbayev to be the first Kazak mufti proved an unpopular one. Accusing him of financial irregularities, religious mispractice, and collaboration with the Soviet and Kazakstani state security apparatus, a group of believers from the nationalist Alash political party attempted unsuccessfully to replace the mufti in December 1991.
With an eye toward the Islamic governments of nearby Iran and Afghanistan, the writers of the 1993 constitution specifically forbade religious political parties. The 1995 constitution forbids organizations that seek to stimulate racial, political, or religious discord, and imposes strict governmental control on foreign religious organizations. As did its predecessor, the 1995 constitution stipulates that Kazakstan is a secular state; thus, Kazakstan is the only Central Asian state whose constitution does not assign a special status to Islam. This position was based on the Nazarbayev government's foreign policy as much as on domestic considerations. Aware of the potential for investment from the Muslim countries of the Middle East, Nazarbayev visited Iran, Turkey, and Saudia Arabia; at the same time, however, he preferred to cast Kazakstan as a bridge between the Muslim East and the Christian West. For example, he initially accepted only observer status in the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), all of whose member nations are predominantly Muslim. The president's first trip to the Muslim holy city of Mecca, which did not occur until 1994, was part of an itinerary that also included a visit to Pope John Paul II in the Vatican.
By the mid-1990s, Nazarbayev had begun occasionally to refer to Allah in his speeches, but he had not permitted any of the Islamic festivals to become public holidays, as they had elsewhere in Central Asia. However, certain pre-Islamic holidays such as the spring festival Navruz and the summer festival Kymyzuryndyk were reintroduced in 1995.
INCIDENCE OF CRIME
The crime rate in Kazakhstan is low compared to more industrialized countries. An analysis was done using INTERPOL data for Kazakhstan. For purpose of comparison, data were drawn for the seven offenses used to compute the United States FBI's index of crime. Index offenses include murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. The combined total of these offenses constitutes the Index used for trend calculation purposes. Kazakhstan will be compared with Japan (country with a low crime rate) and USA (country with a high crime rate). According to the INTERPOL data, for murder, the rate in 2000 was 15.82 per 100,000 population for Kazakhstan, 1.10 for Japan, and 5.51 for USA. For rape, the rate in 2000 was 8.69 for Kazakhstan, compared with 1.78 for Japan and 32.05 for USA. For robbery, the rate in 2000 was 16.57 for Kazakhstan, 4.08 for Japan, and 144.92 for USA. Kazakhstan did not report data for aggravated assault to INTERPOL in year 2000. For burglary, the rate in 2000 was 150.97 for Kazakhstan, 233.60 for Japan, and 728.42 for USA. The rate of larceny for 2000 was 378.8 for Kazakhstan, 1401.26 for Japan, and 2475.27 for USA. The rate for motor vehicle theft in 2000 was 7.94 for Kazakhstan, compared with 44.28 for Japan and 414.17 for USA. The rate for all index offenses combined was 578.79 for Kazakhstan, compared with 1709.88 for Japan and 4123.97 for USA (noting that data for aggravated assault were not included in this Index for Kazakhstan).
TRENDS IN CRIME
In the early and mid-1990s, crime was increasing at an alarming rate. The police were badly understaffed, overworked, and underfinanced. In 1995 police in Almaty received no pay for three months. A significant drain of personnel has occurred since independence, as investigators and police officers either move to other republics or enter other lines of work offering higher pay. Even before independence, militia authorities complained that staffing was more than 2,000 below full force. In numerous instances, police officers themselves have been involved in crime, especially in such potentially lucrative branches of law enforcement as highway patrol and customs inspection. Under these circumstances, public respect for the police declined seriously.
Since independence Kazakstan has suffered an enormous increase in crime of almost all types. One indication of this explosion has been a series of measures ordered by President Nazarbayev in September 1995, aimed primarily at ending corruption in the police force. The incidence of reported crimes has grown by about 25 percent in every year since independence, although in the first months of 1995 the growth rate slowed to about 16 percent. The average crime rate for the republic is about 50 crimes per 10,000 population, but the rate is significantly higher in Qaraghandy, North Kazakstan, East Kazakstan, Aqmola, Pavlodar, and Almaty. Crime-solving rates have fallen to under 60 percent across the republic and to as low as 30 percent in cities such as Qaraghandy and Temirtau.
Particular increases have been noted in violent crimes and in crimes committed by teenagers and young men. Contract murders and armed clashes between criminal groups increased noticeably in 1995 and were cited by Nazarbayev as a reason for tightening police procedures. Although Soviet crime statistics were not especially reliable, it is still revealing that in 1988 only 5 percent of the republic's convicts were under thirty years of age, but by 1992 that figure had risen to 58 percent. In addition, there has been an enormous increase in official malfeasance and corruption, with bribe taking reported to be nearly ubiquitous.
Between 1995 and 2000, according to INTERPOL data, the rate of murder increased from 14.39 to 15.82 per 100,000 population, an increase of 9.9%. The rate for rape was not reported in 1995. The rate of robbery decreased from 68.08 to 16.57, a decrease of 75.7%. The rate for aggravated assault was 373.84 in 1995, but was not reported for year 2000. The rate for burglary was not reported for 1995. The rate of larceny increased from 311.74 to 378.8, an increase of 21.5%. The rate of motor vehicle theft increased from 7.06 to 7.94, and increase of 12.5%. The rate of total index offenses decreased from 775.11 to 578.79, a decrease of 25.3% (noting that data were missing for rape and burglary in 1995 and aggravated assault in 2000.
The Committee for National Security (KNB) is responsible for national security, intelligence, and counterintelligence. The KNB also plays a law enforcement role in border security, internal security, and antiterrorism efforts, and oversees the external intelligence service, Barlau. The chairman of the KNB reports directly to the President. The Ministry of Interior (MVD) supervises the criminal police, who are poorly paid and widely believed to be corrupt. The KNB continued efforts to improve its public image by focusing on fighting government corruption, religious extremism, terrorism, illegal arms exports, and organized crime. Members of the security forces committed human rights abuses.
Kazakstan's police, court, and prison systems are based, largely unchanged, on Soviet-era practices, as is the bulk of the republic's criminal code. Major legislative changes have concentrated on commercial law, with a view to improving the atmosphere for foreign investment. Formal responsibility for observation of the republic's laws and for protection of the state's interests is divided among the National Security Committee (successor to the Kazak branch of the KGB), the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Office of the Procurator General. Intelligence and counterintelligence are the responsibility of the National Security Committee. The police (still called the militia) and prisons are the responsibility of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. The Office of the Procurator General, formerly charged with investigation and prosecution of unlawful acts, was removed from its investigative capacity by the 1995 constitution. Investigation of crimes shifted to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, which also is responsible for fire protection, automotive inspection, and routine preservation of order. As of 1992, Kazakstan became a member of the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol), and Kazakstani authorities have worked particularly closely with the law enforcement agencies of Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan.
Both the police and the National Security Committee have the right to violate guarantees of privacy (of the home, telephone, mail, and banks) with the sanction of the procurator general. The theoretical requirement for search warrants and judicial orders for wiretaps and other violations of privacy often is ignored in practice. When the 1995 constitution was approved, a United States official criticized its lack of protection of civil and human rights. Before the approval referendum, Nazarbayev had announced the dissolution of the Constitutional Court, which he replaced in October with a Constitutional Council whose decisions the president could veto.
Members of the security forces committed a small number of extrajudicial killings during mistreatment of detainees and abuse of military conscripts. Police tortured detainees in the form of beatings, and otherwise mistreated detainees.
The Constitution states that "no one must be subject to torture, violence or other treatment and punishment that is cruel or humiliating to human dignity;" however, police tortured, in the form of beatings, and otherwise abused detainees, often in order to obtain confessions. Law enforcement officers participating in a government conference on pretrial detention facilities noted that beatings by officials were common in such facilities.
Government officials acknowledged the seriousness of the problem of police abuse and undertook some efforts to combat it. According to the Prosecutor General in 2000, disciplinary measures were taken against 6,317 officers of governmental investigative agencies for violating individuals' constitutional rights. Prosecutors brought criminal charges against 107 police officers for the unlawful use of physical force against citizens in 2000 and disciplinary actions were taken against hundreds more. Human rights observers believe that these cases cover only a small fraction of the incidents of police abuse of detainees, which they characterized as routine. Training standards and pay for police are very low, and individual law enforcement officials often were supervised poorly.
The Constitution prohibits such actions; however, the Government infringed on these rights. The Constitution provides that citizens have the right to "confidentiality of personal deposits and savings, correspondence, telephone conversations, postal, telegraph, and other messages"; however, the limitation of this right is allowed "in cases and according to procedures directly established by law." The KNB and Ministry of Interior, with the concurrence of the Prosecutor General's Office, interfere with citizens' privacy and correspondence. The Criminal Procedure Code allows for wiretapping or recording of telephone calls without a prosecutor's warrant only in certain urgent cases; in such cases, the Prosecutor shall be notified of the wiretapping or recording within 24 hours and must determine whether the wiretap or recording was legal. Some government opponents reported that the Government monitored their movements and telephone calls. For example, RNPK activist Nurbulat Masanov claimed in a public press conference that a tape of unknown origin which contained comments, for which he was found guilty of slander, was made from wiretaps placed on his cellular telephone. In the same press conference, Masanov claimed that his telephone has been wiretapped for 2 years.
Police and the KNB are required to obtain permits from the court or Prosecutor's Office to conduct searches; however, in extraordinary cases when the item they are looking for could be lost, damaged, or used for criminal purposes, they may conduct a search without a permit. In such cases they must notify the Prosecutor within 24 hours.
A central, state-run billing center for telecommunications services, which opened during 2000, was not successful in rerouting services through its network during the year. In practice, the Center receives only monthly statistical information from telecommunications companies, and does not have access to information on individual telephone accounts. The Government initially presented the creation of the center as an attempt to ensure that all telecommunications traffic was being taxed properly; however, NGO's, opposition figures, and human rights monitors expressed concern that the Government would use the center to enhance its ability to monitor telecommunications and control the availability of information on the Internet. Government officials denied that this was their intent.
The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention; however, arbitrary detention remained a problem. In October the Government held a seminar on pretrial detention facilities, which included participation from the OSCE and the KIBHR. Law enforcement officials participating in the conference stated that cases of violation of detainees' rights and illegal detentions were common. Law enforcement officials stated that approximately one third of all detainees may have been detained illegally.
Unlike in the previous year, there were no reported cases of the Government using minor infractions of the law related to unsanctioned assembly to arrest and detain government opponents.
The Constitution provides that arrests and detentions may occur only with the sanction of a court or a prosecutor. According to the official Russian-language newspaper Kazakhstanskaya Pravda, the Zhambul Oblast Prosecutor General's Office stated that more than 3,500 persons were detained by oblast police without cause in the first quarter of the year. Short (3-hour) and long (72-hour) detentions for "suspicion" were used widely and many individuals were detained for identity checks without suspicion of a criminal offense.
The law sanctions pretrial detention. According to the Constitution, police may hold a detainee for 72 hours before bringing charges. The Criminal Code allows continued detention for much longer periods with the approval of the General Prosecutor of the Republic. Lower-ranking prosecutors may approve interim extensions of detention. In practice police routinely hold detainees, with the sanction of a prosecutor, for weeks or even months without bringing charges, and prolonged detention was a serious problem.
The Ministry of Interior administers pretrial detention centers. Local human rights NGO's generally had access to pretrial detention facilities; however, there were reports of some individuals who had difficulty gaining access. Conditions and treatment in pretrial facilities remained harsh, although Penal Reform International noted some positive changes in attitude within the Ministry of Interior. There were more than 4,300 individuals in pretrial detention centers. Law enforcement officials stated that 267 detainees had been held for more than 2 years awaiting trial.
A bail system exists, but it rarely is used. Individuals generally remain in pretrial detention until their trial. During the year, government officials stated that 73 persons were released on bail in the first 8 months of the year, compared with 47 during 2000.
According to the Constitution, every person detained, arrested, or accused of committing a crime has the right to the assistance of a defense lawyer from the moment of detention, arrest, or accusation. While this right generally is respected in practice, human rights monitors alleged that law enforcement officials have pressured prisoners to use certain attorneys or to refuse the assistance of an attorney, at times resulting in a delay before the accused sees a lawyer. Detainees also may appeal the legality of detention or arrest to the Prosecutor before trial; however, in practice most persons refrain from making an appeal due to fear of reprisal for doing so.
The Constitution prohibits forced exile, and the Government does not use it.
The legal system of Kazakhstan is based on a civil law system. The present court system functions at three levels: local courts, which handle petty crimes such as pickpocketing and vandalism; province-level courts, which handle offenses such as murder, grand larceny, and organized crime; and the Supreme Court, to which decisions of the lower courts are appealed. Until mid-1995, the Constitutional Court ruled as final arbiter on the constitutionality of government laws and actions in cases of conflict.
The present constitution provides guarantees of legal representation for persons accused of a crime, including free representation if necessary, but this right appears to be little recognized by authorities or realized by the public. Pretrial detention is permissible, and a suspect may be held for three days before being charged. After being charged, an accused individual may be held for up to a year before being brought to trial. There is no system of bail; accused individuals remain incarcerated until tried.
The court system's independence is compromised by legislative, administrative and constitutional arrangements that in practice subjugate the judiciary to the executive branch of government. A presidential decree signed in September 2000 sought to lessen executive branch control of the judiciary by moving responsibility for the courts' administrative support from the Justice Ministry to the Supreme Court; however, the financial change has had no apparent effect on the court's lack of independence.
There are three levels in the court system: Local, oblast (provincial), and the Supreme Court. Local courts try less serious crimes, such as petty theft and vandalism. Oblast courts handle more serious crimes, such as murder, grand theft, and organized criminal activities. The oblast courts also may handle cases in rural areas where no local courts are organized. Judgments of the local courts may be appealed to the oblast-level courts, while those of the oblast courts may be appealed to the Supreme Court. There is also a military court.
According to the Constitution, the President proposes to the upper house of Parliament (the Senate) nominees for the Supreme Court. Specifically nominees are recommended by The Supreme Judicial Council, which includes the chairperson of the Constitutional Council, the chairperson of the Supreme Court, the Prosecutor General, the Minister of Justice, Senators, judges, and other persons appointed by the President. The President appoints oblast judges (nominated by the Supreme Judicial Council) and local level judges from a list presented by the Ministry of Justice. The list is based on recommendations from the Qualification Collegium of Justice, an institution made up of deputies from the lower house of Parliament (the Majilis), judges, public prosecutors, legal experts, and Ministry of Justice officials. The President appoints the Collegium chairman.
Under the law judges are appointed for life, although in practice this means until mandatory retirement at age 65. Under a 1995 presidential decree, the President may remove judges, except members of the Supreme Court or chairmen of judicial collegia, on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice; the Minister's recommendations must be based on findings by either the Supreme Judicial Council or the Qualification Collegium of Justice that the judge failed to, or was no longer capable of, performing his duties. The President can request, based upon recommendations from the Supreme Judicial Council, that the Senate remove members of the Supreme Court or chairmen of judicial collegia, which are judicial councils that judges serve on at the local, city, oblast, and Supreme Court levels.
The Constitution abolished the Constitutional Court and established a Constitutional Council in 1995. The Council rules on election and referendum challenges, interprets the Constitution, and determines the constitutionality of laws adopted by Parliament. The President directly appoints three of its seven members, including the chairman, and has the right of veto over Council decisions. The Council may overturn a presidential veto if at least two-thirds (five) of its members vote to do so. Therefore, at least one presidential appointee must vote to overturn the President's veto in order for the Council to overrule the President. Citizens do not have the right to appeal to the Council regarding the constitutionality of government actions, although they were allowed to make such appeals to the former Constitutional Court. Under the Constitution, only the President, chairperson of the Senate, chairperson of the Majilis, Prime Minister, one-fifth of the members of Parliament, or a court of law may appeal to the Constitutional Council. The Constitution states that a court shall appeal to the Council if it "finds that a law or other regulatory legal act subject to application undermined the rights and liberties of an individual and a citizen."
The Constitution and the law establish the necessary procedures for a fair trial; however, human rights monitors assert that trials often are not fair in practice. Trials are public with the exception of instances in which an open hearing could result in state secrets being divulged, or when the private life or personal family concerns of a citizen must be protected. If a defendant cannot afford an attorney, the Constitution states that the Government must provide one free of charge. Human rights organizations allege that many prisoners are unaware of this provision of the law. The Government's reluctance to provide a lawyer is partly attributed to a shortage of funds to pay court-appointed lawyers to which defendants are entitled. Some lawyers are reluctant to defend clients unpopular with the Government. According to the Constitution, defendants have the right to be present, the right to counsel, and the right to be heard in court and call witnesses for the defense.
Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence, are protected from self-incrimination, and have the right to appeal a decision to a higher court. Legal proceedings are conducted in the state language, Kazakh, although Russian also may be used officially in the courts. Proceedings also may be held in the language of the majority of the population in a particular area. In most cases, these rights are respected; cases involving government opponents frequently are closed.
Corruption is evident at every stage and level of the judicial process. Lawyers and human rights monitors alleged that judges, prosecutors, and other officials solicit bribes in exchange for favorable rulings in nearly all criminal cases. Judges are paid poorly. According to the Minister of Interior, in the first half of the year the Government disclosed 161 cases of bribery among employees of the Justice Ministry, financial police, tax police, and customs. In June the chairman of the Supreme Court revealed that one in four judges had been disciplined and six judges were indicted for corruption in the first half of the year. In a June address to the National Congress of Kazakhstani Judges, President Nazarbayev criticized the judges for sentencing discrepancies, trial delays, corruption, and lack of transparency. The Ministries of Justice and Interior have received additional funding to increase salaries for law enforcement agents and judges. During the year, judges' salaries were raised from less than $50 (7,000 tenge) per month to approximately $100 (15,000 tenge) per month. In July the Government established a judicial ethics commission to review complaints and appeals by citizens on violations of judicial ethics.
The Kazakstani prison system came under attack from human rights organizations in the mid-1990s. In the late Soviet period, eighty-nine labor camps, ten prisons, and three psychiatric hospitals (under the administration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs) were known to be operating in the republic. At least two of the prisons, at Öskemen and Semey, date from tsarist days. There also were at least four special prisons for women and children, at Pavlodar, Zhambyl, and Chamalghan. The facilities remaining from the Soviet period are badly overcrowded and understaffed. According to a 1996 report from the Ministry of Internal Affairs, government funding of prisons is less than half the amount required, and corruption and theft are common throughout the prison system. The total prison population in 1996 was 76,000, and about 1,300 died of tuberculosis in 1995. Health conditions are extremely poor. Overcrowding has been exacerbated by an explosion of crime among the country's youth and by President Nazarbayev's ongoing policy of harsh sentences for convicted criminals.
As of year 2001, prison conditions remained harsh and sometimes life-threatening, although there were some signs of improvements during the year. Some of the instances of mistreatment occur in prisons. Guards, who are poorly paid, steal food and medicines intended for prisoners. Violent crime among prisoners is common. According to the Interior Ministry, during the year there were approximately 70,000 prisoners in facilities designed to hold 60,000. A 2000 amnesty reduced the number of prisoners by more than 26,700; however, overcrowding remained a problem.
Overcrowding, inadequate diet, and a lack of medical supplies and personnel contributed to the spread of tuberculosis and other major diseases. Approximately 9,000 prisoners suffer from tuberculosis. In 2000 a total of 498 prisoners died in penal facilities; more than 200 of these deaths were due to illness, mostly tuberculosis. Another 170 gravely ill prisoners died shortly after being released. In 1999 a total of 384 prisoners died tuberculosis while in custody and 409 were released on humanitarian grounds due to illness and died at home.
Government officials stated that improved treatment undertaken in cooperation with the World Health Organization has reduced the deaths from tuberculosis. There were five tuberculosis colonies and three tuberculosis hospitals for prisoners. The Government's senior prisons official acknowledged that the number of prisoners with AIDS is growing. The number infected reportedly grew from 256 in 1999 to 263 in 2000, although the authorities maintained that the prisoners were infected before being incarcerated. However, experts believed that many cases go unreported.
Prisoners are allowed one 4-hour visit every 3 months, but additional visits may be granted in emergency situations. Some prisoners are eligible for 3-day visits with close relatives once every 6 months.
On May 19, 15 inmates at the Semipalatinsk Prison No. 156/14 committed acts of self-mutilation, slitting their wrists and driving nails into their chests and backs, to protest prison conditions. The inmates demanded the closure of solitary confinement cells, the removal of some prison officials, and free movement within the prison grounds. There were no reports of a formal investigation; however, the prison administrator was fired as a result of the protest.
In September two officials at the Ust-Kamenogorsk Prison 156/2 were charged and convicted with abuse of power for beating prisoners in August 2000. The two received 3-year suspended sentences and 2 years probation, and are ineligible to work for the Government for 3 years.
The prison system consists of pretrial detention centers, penal colonies (including low and medium security facilities, women's and juvenile facilities), and maximum-security prisons.
The Government was active in pursuing penal reform and projects to improve prison conditions. The Government passed legislation in 2000 to transfer authority over prisons from the Interior Ministry to the Justice Ministry in a move intended to further improve prison conditions. The actual transfer of authority is scheduled to be implemented beginning in January 2002.
In March 2000, the MVD opened a training center for penitentiary system employees in Pavlodar. During the year, the Government together with the OSCE and the international NGO Penal Reform International (PRI), undertook projects to provide medical and human rights training to prison officials. The Government, in cooperation with the PRI and the OSCE, expanded the Pavlodar prison personnel training project to Karaganda, Akmola, and East Kazakhstan Oblasts. The PRI has reported a considerable improvement in conditions, food, and medical treatment in Pavlodar. New women's and juvenile facilities, with much improved physical conditions, were being built in the Eastern Kazakhstan Oblast at year's end. In April the Government formed a working group on alternatives to confinement. During the year, the group researched international practice to improve juvenile justice and reviewed legislation and the judicial system as they relate to prisons.
In 2000 the Government announced a general amnesty under which during the year, more than 26,700 prisoners were freed and criminal proceedings were dropped against another 3,450. Juveniles, men, and women are kept in separate facilities.
Although there is no known statutory requirement, human rights monitors and journalists wishing to visit prisons must receive authorization from the MVD; monitors and journalists generally were allowed access to penal colonies, except during protests. Access to pretrial detention centers, which are controlled by the Ministry of Interior, often was denied. Prison administrators are hesitant to allow civilians into the maximum security prisons for reasons of personal security. The Kazakhstan International Bureau on Human Rights and Rule of Law (KIBHR) visited men's, women's, and juveniles' prisons during the year.
Violence against women, including domestic violence, was a problem. In a 1999 government survey, 28 percent of women surveyed indicated that they had been victims of domestic abuse. Most respondents correlated domestic abuse with physical or sexual assault and not with psychological or economic abuse. The Ministry of Interior reported 190 cases of rape filed with police in the first 10 months of the year. Of these cases, the Ministry reported that 80 percent occurred at work or in educational institutions, and that the majority of victims knew their rapist. The NGO Women's Information Center reported over 13,000 crimes committed against women in the first 6 months of the year, among which more than 8,800 were considered grave crimes. NGO activists and prison officials stated that domestic violence was a significant factor in the majority of cases of women serving sentences for murder. In a December conference on sexual violence, the Ministry of Interior representative reported that approximately 68 percent of female prisoners might be in prison on charges resulting from domestic violence.
There is no specific law on domestic violence; however, it may be addressed under assault and battery provisions of the Criminal Code. There is no law that specifically prohibits spousal rape. The maximum sentence for wife beating is 3 years. The punishment for rape can range from 3 to 15 years imprisonment. There was no information on the percentage of crimes against women that have been prosecuted successfully, but police often are reluctant to intervene in domestic disputes, considering them to be the family's business, unless they believe that the abuse is life threatening. Under the Criminal Procedure Code, prosecutors may not initiate a rape case, absent aggravating circumstances such as gang rape, unless the victim files a complaint. There were unconfirmed reports that prosecutors sometimes interpreted this provision to require rape victims to pay for forensic testing, pay the expenses of prosecution, and personally prosecute rape cases themselves. Police also may not detain a person legally for more than 72 hours if the victim refuses to provide a written complaint and in most cases, women refuse to follow through with charges. An Almaty crisis center reported that out of 477 women who came to the center during 2000, only 7 actually followed through with charges. Of those seven cases, five either were not accepted for trial because the prosecutors did not feel there was sufficient evidence, or were lost in court; two cases remained pending at year's end. During the year, new domestic violence units opened within the Almaty and Astana police departments. A women's crisis center in Almaty stated that the Almaty police are very effective when there is a complaint. There is very little reporting on rape in the press.
Prostitution is legal; however, forced prostitution or prostitution connected to organized crime is illegal. Prostitution was a serious problem.
Trafficking in women was a serious problem.
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS
The law does not specifically prohibit trafficking in persons, although government officials generally maintained that prosecutors effectively could charge traffickers under the existing Criminal Code; trafficking in women and girls was a problem. There is no evidence of a pattern of official complicity with trafficking, although corruption of law enforcement officials is widespread. In June 2000, the official press reported that customs and border officials were under investigation for possible complicity with a trafficking ring in the southern part of the country; however, no charges had been brought against any officials by year's end.
Kazakhstan is a country of origin and transit for trafficking, and there is some anecdotal evidence that the country also may be a destination country in a few cases. Trafficking within the country also may occur. Women and girls from Kazakhstan were trafficked to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Greece, Turkey, Israel, and South Korea. Reportedly women from the Kyrgyz Republic also were trafficked through the country to the same destinations. There is some evidence of Kyrgyz laborers (men and women) being trafficked to Almaty Oblast (just across the Kyrgyz-Kazakh border) to work as laborers in tobacco fields.
There are no official statistics on trafficking, but women's rights groups and the IOM stated that the problem was serious and growing. Experts estimated that approximately 5,000 women have been trafficked in the past 10 years. In 1999 according to the MVD, 25 women were repatriated from Greece, 21 from the UAE, 16 from Turkey and 3 from Israel. Law enforcement agencies registered 300 reported cases of trafficking from January to October. Traffickers target young women in their teens and twenties. According to the Kazakhstan Crisis Center for Women and Children, most women were recruited with promises of good jobs or marriage abroad. Travel, employment, and marriage agencies often recruit victims through advertisements promising lucrative jobs in other countries. Offers to participate in international beauty contests also are used. Formerly trafficked women reportedly have recruited new victims personally. Many trafficking victims appear to be aware or at least to suspect that they are going to work as prostitutes, but not that they will be working under slavery-like conditions. NGO's state that the rising number of women being trafficked from the country is due to the lack of employment opportunities and lack of information about trafficking. Most trafficked persons travel to their destinations on passports obtained abroad, most often from Russia or the Kyrgyz Republic.
There are no laws that specifically prohibit trafficking; however, there is an article of the criminal code that address trafficking in minors. The criminal code provides punishment of up to 3 years in jail for illegal involvement in prostitution. Prostitution is legal; however, prostitution connected with organized crime is punishable by up to 5 years in jail. According to Article 135, the kidnaping of persons is punishable by a term of up to 7 years. An organized group working for sexual or other exploitation can be punished with up to 15 years in prison and confiscation of property. Within the Government, the National Commission for Women's and Family Issues (the National Commission) has taken the lead to address trafficking. Law enforcement agencies and the KNB have investigated specific cases of trafficking. In July a regional court convicted a man of trafficking young women and sentenced him to 4 years in prison. According to the regional court, since 1999 the man had trafficked 15 women overseas. Two women that he trafficked to Switzerland were able to escape and return to the country where they brought charges against him with the regional court.
In May the Government formed a working group to draft amendments to strengthen existing legislation and to address trafficking specifically; no legislation had been passed at year's end. In June the Government reinstated required licensing for tourist agencies in an effort to uncover agencies involved in trafficking. The Prosecutor General's office conducted several inspections between September and December, and found that many tourist agencies failed to provide for the return of their clients to Kazakhstan. The Prosecutor General reported that most of these tourist agencies closed voluntarily after the inspections.
There is no government assistance for trafficked women who have returned to the country; however, NGO's run crisis support centers that provide assistance.
The Government does not run any trafficking prevention programs; however, nongovernmental efforts to combat trafficking in persons continued and the Government cooperates with this groups. In May NGO's hosted a joint Central Asian Conference on trafficking. Attending NGO's participated in a 1 day training session on professional methods of covering antitrafficking issues. Organizers published a manual with instructions for conducting information campaigns, creating educational programs for schools and university students and monitoring trafficking incidents. The results of the conference were released to the public through a series of press conferences. Media attention to the trafficking problem also has increased through advertisements and poster campaigns.
Kazakstan offers natural conditions favorable to accelerated narcotics use and trade. Many parts of the country offer excellent growing conditions for cannabis and opium poppies, and the country is located on the route to lucrative markets in the West. Until it ceased production in 1991, Kazakstan's Shymkent plant was the Soviet Union's only supplier of medicinal opiates. The Ministry of Internal Affairs estimated narcotics production and traffic to be 30 percent higher in 1993 than in the previous year. The focus of attention for that ministry, which coordinates the republic's antinarcotics program, is the Chu Valley in south central Kazakstan, where an estimated 138,000 hectares of cannabis and an unknown area of opium poppy fields are under cultivation, providing exports for international smugglers. Because of low funding, efforts to eradicate cannabis and poppy cultivation virtually ceased in 1995.
Almaty has become a crossroads for opiates and hashish from southwest Asia. This role has resulted in large part from lax customs controls and the city's position as a transportation hub. In 1994 an estimated 1.4 tons of morphine base from Afghanistan were stored in Almaty.
An active government narcotics control program began in 1993, although limited personnel and funding have handicapped its efforts. In 1994 only 400 police, 100 sniffer dogs, and twelve special investigators were active. Most Ministry of Internal Affairs interdiction occurs along the Chinese border. Cooperation has been sought with the narcotics programs of other Central Asian states and Russia. In 1993 and 1994, Russian forces made eradication sweeps through the Chu Valley, but Russian helicopter support ceased in 1994. Antinarcotics agreements have been signed with Turkey, Pakistan, China, and Iran. Kazakstan also has requested United States aid in drafting narcotics provisions in a new penal code.
Domestic use of narcotics has been confined largely to areas of production, notably around Shymkent. Although only 10,700 addicts were registered in 1991, experts believe the actual number to be much higher. The use of homemade opiates increased significantly in the early 1990s. The Ministry of Health runs a center offering treatment and prevention programs. However, by 1994 lack of resources had made treatment on demand impossible and stimulated reorganization of the program.
Kazakhstan continues to be a popular drug corridor for the trafficking of opiates and cannabis products from major drug producing countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan to Russian and Western European markets. The volume of drugs produced and smuggled has increased. Kazakhstan's Chu valley contains 400,000 hectares of wild growing cannabis, with an estimated annual harvest of 500 metric tons. The Government of Kazakhstan (GOK) approved a UNDCP master plan for counter-narcotics and related crimes, and the parliament ratified the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the 1961 UN Single Convention and its 1972 Protocol, as well as the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances. It has determined staffing for its interagency drug control committee, which is headed by Minister of the Interior Suleymenov. The National Security Committee (KNB--successor to the KGB) was granted authority to fight international narcotics trafficking, corruption and organized crime. The KNB successfully mounted a joint operation with British customs and arrested South Asian drug traffickers. Kazakhstan has requested closer cooperation with U.S. and western law enforcement agencies to monitor controlled deliveries of narcotics transiting Kazakhstan.
Increasing drug trafficking and drug crop harvesting are Kazakhstan's most serious illicit drug problems. Drug trafficking from Afghanistan and Pakistan, primarily in opiates, continues to increase, and Kazakhstan has the potential to become a transit country for Chinese psychotropic drugs, according to local law enforcement officials. The most popular means to traffic drugs through Kazakhstan is on north-bound trains from Kazakhstan to Moscow, using adolescent or elderly people to smuggle the goods in their baggage or on their persons. The increasing frequency of international air connections from Kazakhstan to Western Europe have led drug traffickers to smuggle narcotics by air as well. Drug abuse among Kazakhstani citizens under 30, who comprise an estimated two-thirds of the country's 200,000 drug users, continues to increase. Kazakhstan has one of the region's most developed banking systems, and is a potential host for money laundering operations. Thirty of the country's chemical plants have the capacity to manufacture chemical precursors, and Kazakhstan produces acetic anhydride, a heroin precursor, which is exported to Russia and other NIS countries.
According to UNDCP, GOK authorities discovered and destroyed less than one hectare of opium poppy plots in 1998. Reportedly it is much it is much easier and less expensive for illicit traffickers to smuggle opium or heroin from Pakistan or Afghanistan than to grow it in Kazakhstan. UNDCP source stated that much of the opium was grown for personal consumption rather than for illicit sale. Kazakhstan's Chu valley and nearby regions contain the world's largest contiguous vegetated area containing cannabis as a dominant element. Potential production has been estimated as high as 6000 metric tons per year. However, this does not reach the United States in amounts that significantly affect this country. At least seven species of ephedra are indigenous in an area of 350,000 hectares in southern Kazakhstan, spawning a growing cottage industry in the illicit production of ephedrine.
Kazakhstan is a significant transit country for opiates produced in southwest Asia destined for markets in the former Soviet Union and Western Europe. Drug traffickers use road and rail routes primarily to smuggle narcotics through Kazakhstan. Increasing commercial air links have led to a rise in use of air routes as well. There are indications that Kazakhstan is used for the transshipment of precursor chemicals from Russia and other NIS countries to southwest Asia for the illicit production of heroin.
Marijuana is the primary drug of abuse. Opiates are also popular. Addicts reportedly inject narcotics extracted from opium poppy straw. Other abused substances include barbiturates, benzodiazapines, ephedrine hydrochloride, and inhalants. With U.S. and UNDCP funding, Kazakhstan completed development of a drug education curriculum for students ages 7-17 in 1998. The curriculum will be taught nationwide beginning in the spring of 1999. Also in 1998, the government launched a national "healthy lifestyles" campaign discouraging the use of alcohol, tobacco and narcotics.