Kazakhstan is using "increasingly elaborate and aggressive methods to stamp out" dissenting voices on the Internet and social media, Amnesty International warns.
Kazakh authorities are using increased powers provided by recent legislation to "to shut down or block access to particular websites," the London-based group said in a report issued on February 9.
It said President Nursultan Nazarbaev's government is also using court rulings in criminal and administrative cases to target people "for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly."
The report cited the cases of human rights defenders Maks Bokaev and Talgat Ayan, who were detained in May 2016 after posting information about antigovernment protests against changes to the Central Asian country's Land Code.
The two were sentenced to five years in prison each after being found guilty of inciting social discord, spreading knowingly false information, and violating the law regulating public assemblies.
Amnesty International considers both men to be prisoners of conscience.
Nazarbaev has ruled Kazakhstan since before it gained independence in the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.