• Kazakhstan’s human rights record has seriously deteriorated following violent clashes in December 2011 between police and demonstrators, including striking oil workers. Authorities blamed outspoken oil workers and political opposition activists for the unrest, and sentenced Vladimir Kozlov, an opposition leader, to prison on vague and overbroad criminal charges. Freedom of assembly is strictly controlled and a restrictive law on religious freedoms remains in force. There were attacks on independent journalists, and authorities shut down key independent media outlets. Legislation regulating workers’ rights is vague and burdensome, and a ban on strikes in certain sectors of the economy restricts workers’ rights.

  • Kazakhstan heavily restricts freedom of assembly, speech, and religion. In 2014, authorities closed newspapers, jailed or fined dozens of people after peaceful but unsanctioned protests, and fined or detained worshipers for practicing religion outside state controls. Government critics, including opposition leader Vladimir Kozlov, remained in detention after unfair trials.



  • Feb 27, 2015
    The February 26, 2015 decision by an Almaty appeals court to uphold an order to close a media outlet known for its critical articles weakens media pluralism in Kazakhstan.
  • Feb 13, 2015
  • Jan 29, 2015
    Central Asia’s already poor human rights record deteriorated further in 2014, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2015. The governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan failed to uphold and in some cases further undermined their core human rights commitments.
  • Jan 19, 2015
  • Dec 3, 2014
  • Oct 28, 2014
    An Almaty court awarded thousands of dollars in damages against an advertising agency for a poster depicting two male cultural icons kissing. The draconian ruling on October 28, 2014 will have a chilling effect on freedom of expression and creativity in Kazakhstan and condones homophobia and prejudice.
  • Oct 28, 2014
    United Nations member countries should use an upcoming UN review of Kazakhstan’s rights record to urge its government to adopt overdue reforms. Kazakhstan’s rights record will be in international spotlight during the country’s second Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on October 30, 2014.
  • Oct 20, 2014
    This memorandum, submitted to the UN Committee Against Torture ahead of its upcoming review of Kazakhstan, highlights areas of concern Human Rights Watch hopes will inform the Committee’s consideration of the Kazakh government’s compliance with the International Convention against Torture and Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
  • Oct 9, 2014
    The October 9 visit by Kazakhstan’s president, Nursultan Nazarbaev, to Brussels will serve as a pointed reminder of the European Union’s colossal failure to secure human rights improvements as part of its engagement with this government, whose human rights record has gone from bad to worse in recent years.
  • Oct 1, 2014
    Respect for freedom of expression should lead to dismissal of multiple lawsuits over a poster that shows two male cultural icons kissing.