Statement of the Soros Foundation-Kazakhstan with regard to the prison sentences passed upon human rights activist Max Bokayev and civic activist Talgat Ayan on November 28, 2016
The Soros Foundation-Kazakhstan expresses deep regret over the prison sentences passed upon human rights activist, Max Bokayev, and civic activist, Talgat Ayan by Criminal Court №2 of the city of Atyrau, Kazakhstan on November 28, 2016.
The court sentenced each of Max Bokayev and Talgat Ayan to 5 years in prison. The sentences were imposed under three articles of the Criminal Code: Part 2 of Art. 174 (“Incitement to social, national, tribal, racial, class-specific or religious hatred”), paragraph 2 of Part 4 of Art. 274 (“Dissemination of knowingly false information during public events”) and Article 400 (“Violation of the order for organizing and holding meetings, rallies, pickets, marches and demonstrations”). We consider the sentences to be too severe and they jeopardize the constitutionally mandated rights to freedom of speech and expression and the freedom of peaceful assembly.
The Soros Foundation-Kazakhstan expresses its grave concern over the continued preservation of Article 174 in the Criminal Code, in spite of much criticism of its non-conformity with the principles of international law and the obligations assumed by Kazakhstan in the framework of the ratified international treaties on human rights. During the operation of Article 174 of the Criminal Code a tendency has been manifested to hold civil society activists, human rights activists and religious leaders liable thereunder. We want to emphasize that we consider the criminal prosecution of civil society activists for human rights practices and social activities to be unlawful.
The Soros Foundation-Kazakhstan urges the overturning of the criminal convictions of human rights defender, Max Bokayev and civil activist, Talgat Ayan. We also call upon the Government of Kazakhstan to begin its implementation of the recommendations made for our country during the presentation of the second Universal Periodic Review at the UN Human Rights Council, including recommendation No. 50, paragraph c): “to clarify the vague and broad definition of key terms, including the offense of inciting “social, national, tribal, class-specific or religious hatred”.