On November 28, the National Conference “ELIMINATING DISCRIMINATIVE PRACTICES IN KAZAKHSTAN” was held. During the conference, representatives of the publicand civil sectors discussed issues related to ensuring equality and protection from discrimination in Kazakhstan and protecting women from discrimination, harassment and sexualized harassment. Programme of the conference is available in Kazakh and Russian languages here
The conference was supported by the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) and the UNDP Regional Program “Spotlight initiative” for Central Asia “Alliances for Change: Ending Sexual and Gender-Based Violence and Harmful Practices in Central Asia”. Please see information on projects here:
“The Spotlight Initiative” takes a comprehensive approach that respects human rights and recognizes the link between closing gender gaps and the potential for communities and countries to grow towards inclusion, security, equity and economic well-being. To a large extent, this is possible thanks to close interaction with government agencies, civil society organizations and the expert community,” noted Natalya Maksimchuk, Program Officer of the UNDP “Ray of Light” Initiative, during the opening of the event.
During the conference, Director of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law Evgeny Zhovtis and Senior Legal Advisor of the Legal Policy Research Centre Dmitry Nurumov presented the concept and draft law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On the Council for Ensuring Equality and Protection against Discrimination.” Evgeniy Zhovtis reported that civil society experts have developed not only a draft law on a specialized council, but also accompanying bills on amendments to the current anti-discrimination legislation, which contain the conceptual apparatus, institutional and procedural support for eradicating discriminatory practices in Kazakhstan.
“Although discrimination against women in Kazakhstan is confirmed by practice and various studies, we have neither an exhaustive definition of discrimination nor clear prohibitions of discrimination. This leaves victims of discrimination without access to justice and protection,” Tatyana Chernobil, an independent consultant in the field of human rights.
Kuat Rahimberdin, Doctor of Law, Director of the East Kazakhstan branch of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, believes that it is important to implement state policy on issues of combating harassment, as well as to immediately join Kazakhstan to Convention No. 190 of the International Labor Organization “On eliminating violence and harassment in the world of work.”
This proposal was supported by a number of national experts.
In addition, recommendations were made on the need to introduce liability for harassment and sexualized harassment, the adoption of an order of the Minister of Labor and Social Protection of the Population of the Republic of Kazakhstan for employers with clear recommendations on the prevention of harassment in the workplace, investigation of incidents, evidence and what measures employers can take. It was also proposed to adopt a Supreme Court Resolution that would cover the classification of offenses related to harassment, sexualized harassment, stalking and discrimination against women.
“Currently, there is a particular need for training for law enforcement officers, judges, as well as lawyers in the investigation, proof, and qualification of offenses,” emphasized Ayazhan Oirat, regional director of the Legal Policy Research Centre.
Aliya Dautbay PhD, Teaching Professor, expert in the field of medical law, raised issues of discrimination against women in the provision of medical services. She elaborated on cases of pressure on women with disabilities to have an abortion. The expert noted that such women are subject to stigmatization and harassment by medical personnel. In particular, women are insulted, derogatory remarks are used, and they are threatened that their child will be taken away.
The conference participants supported recommendations on the need to develop a conceptual apparatus on non-discrimination issues and create an effective regulatory environment to eradicate discriminatory practices in Kazakhstan.
The conference was organized by the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law (KIBHR) and the Legal Policy Research Center (LPRC).