“Zhovtis is one of Kazakhstan’s most dedicated human rights lawyers, and we are deeply disturbed that he has been imprisoned after an unfair trial,” says Executive Director James A. Goldston. “With Kazakhstan chairing the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe this year, it needs to show that it respects basic standards of law and justice.”
Zhovtis was sentenced in September to four years in prison for his role in a traffic accident in which a pedestrian was killed. Human rights organizations say the charges against Zhovtis are politically motivated because of his human rights activism.
The Open Society Justice Initiative says that Zhovtis’ defense team was blocked from presenting evidence that demonstrated he could not have prevented the accident. The group says several international observers have pointed to a number of procedural violations during both the investigation and trial.
The letter to the UN was filed jointly with the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law.