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Foreign Companies To Build Prisons in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan will invite foreign companies to bid for the construction of new prisons in Central Asian nation, home to several gulag prison camps in the gulag system during the Soviet era.

The deputy Chairman of the state Penitentiary Oversight Committee, Zhanat Keshubaev, told reporters in Astana on December 11 that foreign investors and companies would start taking part in tenders on construction of Kazakh penitentiaries in 2015-2016.

Keshubaev added that the state will continue to run the prisons while private businesses, domestic and foreign, will be responsible for construction only.

Kazakhstan has faced criticism over conditions at prisons and pretrial detention facilities for many years.

Berik Zhaqaev, an official with the prosecutor-general's office, said private companies will be allowed to provide jobs for prison inmates.

Zhaqaev said there are about 42,000 prison inmates -- about half of them with jobs -- in the nation of 17.3 million. The figure does not include people held in pretrial detention.

Based on reporting by Kazinform and KazTAG