(Berlin) – Kazakhstan’s authorities have been abusing tax issues to harass human rights groups, Human Rights Watch said today. Two prominent human rights organizations, the International Legal Initiative Foundation and Liberty, have had tax audits, and the tax authorities appear to be targeting both because of their work protecting human rights. A tax audit of another organization, Kadyr Kasiyet, was suspended but is set to resume.
“Kazakhstan’s authorities shouldn’t be using bogus tax audits to prevent rights groups from operating normally in the country”, said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Targeting nongovernmental groups because of their work on human rights is unacceptable”.
On August 1, 2016, the State Revenue Committee of the Ministry of Finance of Kazakhstan ordered tax audits of the three prominent groups upon the request of an unidentified person, who accused the groups in a local media outlet of involvement in terrorism and of providing no information about how they spend international grant money.