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Kazakhstan Working To Soften Criminal Code

Justice Minister Zagipa Balieva
Justice Minister Zagipa Balieva
ASTANA -- The Kazakh Justice Ministry is going to ease the country's Criminal Code, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Justice Minister Zagipa Balieva said in parliament on March 16 that work has begun on rewriting parts of the code.

She said that if the amendments are adopted, about 16 percent of those imprisoned in Kazakhstan would be released.

Kazakh rights activist Marat Bashimov told RFE/RL's Kazakh Service that the Criminal Code should have been amended long ago. He said Kazakhstan inherited laws from the former Soviet system, where anyone could be sent to jail for the slightest transgression.

Bashimov said the types of punishment should differ and in many cases imprisonment should be substituted with other penalties, including fines and probation.

Kazakhstan will chair the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2010.