Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in Kazakhstan have urged President Nursultan Nazarbaev to veto the country's new Criminal Code and related legislation.
Eighteen leading Kazakh NGOs issued a joint statement on June 11, saying that the amendments "directly violate the right of citizens to assemble" and include chapters targeting public organizations and their leaders.
The activists point out that a clause that punishes libel with a three-year prison term has not been eliminated from the code and that a new clause has been added that imposes a 10-year jail sentence for "intentional distribution of false information."
The NGOs who signed the statement included Kazakhstan's Bureau for Human Rights, Human Rights Charter, International Law Initiative, the Foundation for Parliamentary Development, and Adil Soz (A Just Word).
The Kazakh parliament approved the new Criminal Code on June 11 and sent the document to Nazarbaev for signing.