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Kazakh Report: April 11, 2003


11 April 2003

KAZAKH OFFICIALS CLAIM EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT ADMITTED TOO QUICK ADOPTION OF THE RESOLUTION ON KAZAKHSTAN
Kazakh Deputy Foreign Minister Qayrat Abuseitov, Parliament deputies Zhabaykhan Abdildin, Tatyana Kviyatkovskaya, Zhazbek Abdiev and others held a press conference in the Almaty-based National Press Club on April 11 at which they told journalists that they recently took part in several gatherings organized by European Parliament in Strasbourg. They claimed that members of the European Parliament admitted that their resolution on the situation of the mass media and human rights in Kazakhstan was been adopted too fast without taking different opinions and views into account.

In that document, adopted on 13 February, the European Parliament expressed iconcern over the worsening situation with regard to freedom of speech and human rights in Kazakhstan. A group of Kazakh Parliament members was been invited to Strasbourg in order to get acquainted with the document.

Kazakh Parliament member Zhazbek Abdiev, who was among those who visited European Parliament this week said at the press conference:

"...The European Parliament members confessed that the resolution had been adopted too fast. It turned out that they had a very vague idea about Kazakhstan, they even did not know where our country was situated. There were cases when they confused our state with Pakistan and Tajikistan. In other words, the resolution adopted by European Parliament was based just upon information provided by opposition movements and parties, which is not fair." Abdiev added that members of the European Parliament agreed to revise the resolution, taking all sides' opinions into consideration.

Meanwhile Amirzhan Qosanov, who is chairman of the executive committee of the Republican People Party of Kazakhstan, and who also took part in the meetings between European Parliament and Kazakh officials in Strasbourg this week, told RFE/RL that the Kazakh officials's claims are "a lie." According to Qosanov, on the contrary, members of the European Parliament stressed in their statements that their resolution of February 13 2003 was adopted properly and reflected the real situation in Kazakhstan today. He added that the European Parliament had made it clear that the situation in Kazakhstan would be reviewed in July 2003.

OSCE OFFICE IN ALMATY, KAZAKH BUREAU ON HUMAN RIGHTS, UN OFFICIALS DISCUSS DEATH PENALTY ISSUE
At a press conference held in Almaty on 11 April, representatives of the OSCE and UN offices in Almaty and of the Kazakh Bureau on Human Rights and the Rule of Law told journalists that the number of death sentences handed down in Kazakhstan is decreasing. In his address to nation last week, Kazakhstan's President Nursultan Nazarbaev said that a full ban on the death penalty should be introduced.

Zhemis Turmaghambetova, who is deputy Chairwoman of the Kazakh Bureau on Human Rights and the Rule of Law, told RFE/RL on 11 April that, the tendency with regard to the death penalty is improving. She said that in 1995, courts in Kazakhstan sentenced 110 persons to death, but now the number of death sentences passed in Kazakhstan is about 30 per year.

KOFI ANNAN WRITES TO KAZAKH FOREIGN MINISTER
Kazakh Foreign Ministry press secretary Talghat Zhumabayev told RFE/RL on 11 April that Foreign Minister Qasymzhomart Toqayev has received a letter from UN Secretary General Koffi Annan. It was reportedly said in the letter that UN Secretary General expressed his gratitude to Kazakh Foreign Minister for his support of the UN over the Iraq crisis.

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