Kazakhstan joins Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions as associate member

September 3. ANI. New Delhi

Kazakhstan joins Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions as associate memberKazakhstan joined the Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions (APFNHRI) as an associate member here on Wednesday.

The formal acceptance of Kazakhstan as an associate member of the APFNHRI was effected on the opening day of its 19th annual forum held at the Leela Palace Hotel here.

This year’s meeting is being hosted by the National Human Rights Commission of India.

The three-day-long APF Forum Council will discuss strategic priorities for the period 2015 to 2020) and issue a statement on joint common concerns, and receive the financial and firector’s report.

Askar Shakirov, Commissioner for Human Rights (Ombudsman) represented Kazakhstan at the meeting.

Addressing participants, Shakirov said that the position of a commissioner for human rights in Kazakhstan was a unique one, as it was not a part of any branch of government. This, he said, ensured the ombudsman’s independence in all aspects.

He further revealed that the mandate of the commissioner for human rights had been expanded in 2008 with the creation of the Working Group for

Prevention of Torture, which comprised of representatives of governmental bodies and non-governmental organizations.

He said that in 2013, the law creating the National Preventive Mechanism, in accordance with the Optional Protocol to the United Nations Convention against Torture was adopted, entrusting the ombudsman with the functions of a coordinator.

Shakirov said the ombudsman in Kazakhstan is independent in performing his or her functions, and interference is forbidden. At the same time, he or she is not allowed to participate in political life, and for the period of the mandate, he or she has to renounce their political party membership.

A government decree has also stipulated the concrete procedures that the commissioner for human rights has to follow while in office. He or she may receive and consider complaints against a majority of officials and established organizations for the violation of human rights, in any sphere of activity.

He or she cannot adjudicate on decisions that are outside of the Kazakh judiciary system, as this is forbidden by the Constitution of Kazakhstan.

“However, we do have a memorandum with the chairperson of the Supreme Court, which allows us to present information on highly relevant complaints, and in certain cases, bring attention to evident violations of human rights,” Shakirov said.

He further said: “The main sphere of our activity is determined by the types of complaints that we receive. Thus, most of our attention is directed at the defense of the rights of children, persons with disabilities and other socially vulnerable groups, persons with conviction records, observance of human rights in institutions with limited access and observance of social and economic rights, including the right to work.”

Shakirov said that on the international level, cooperation has been established with the United Nations agencies, the UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights and its representative office in Astana, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and other well-known international organizations. Shakirov said membership of the forum opens up new opportunities for the human rights institutions in Kazakhstan.

“The invaluable experience and knowledge of our colleagues in the region and possibilities for the exchange of ideas and best practices will all be directed towards promoting the human rights movement in our country,” he added.

He also said that Kazakhstan is ready to share its knowledge and experience and to promote the development of human rights organizations and communities of the entire region.