• Robert Spicer

Kazakhstan: Bar Council Mission: Human Rights Issues

We have been invited by the Bar Council to take part in a mission to Kazakhstan to promote the legal services of the Bar. The invitation referred to Kazakhstan as the largest legal market in the CIS region after Russia which generated a significant number of commercial disputes. A significant number of Kazhak lawyers had attended the Global Law Summit in London in February this year.

The Summit was opposed by lawyers and human rights activists who marched from Runnymede to Hampton Court in protest. The Summit was described by opponents as a monstrous jamboree of corporate law, tax avoidance and global networking, and was boycotted by the Liberty organisation.

Our response to the invitation was to make the following points:

  1. There were many reports of a serious deterioration of human rights in Kazakhstan.

  2. It has been reported that freedom of assembly, speech and religion are heavily restricted. Government critics have remained in detention after unfair trials. Legislation regulating workers’ rights is vague and burdensome. The country has been described as a corrupt authoritarian state ruled by its president since 1998.

  3. We would expect the English Bar to raise these issues as a matter of priority.

At the time of writing, the Bar Council has failed to reply.

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