Kazakh Civil Society Alarmed By Pressure On Public Foundations
Civil society of Kazakhstan expresses its deep concern in connection with pressure on the public foundations International Legal Initiative and Liberty as well as the public union Kadir-kasiyet, the International Bureau for Human Rights and Respect for Lawfulness of Kazakhstan (IBHRRLK) reports.
According to a statement signed by 66 local NGOs and civil activists as well as 10 international NGOs, all three organisations were subjected to unscheduled tax inspections. The inspection at the International Legal Initiative resulted in 1.3m tenges (USD4,000) in additional taxes while Liberty was obligated to pay additional 3m tenges (USD9,000); audit at Kadir-kasiyet was halted incomplete.
The signatories believe the tax bodies’ decisions to obligate non-commercial organisations to pay corporate income tax is illegal.
“This [decision] contradicts Article 134 of the code on taxes and other obligatory payments to the budget, which clearly states that non-commercial organisations are exempt from taxation provided they meet [pertinent] conditions that the aforementioned human rights organisations have strictly abided by,” the statement authors argue. According to them, “taxation bodies are manipulating the definition of ‘grant’ in Article 12 of the code, taking advantage of an aged problem of the entire Kazakh legislation—that is, failing to respect the principle of international law on legal certainty and predictability, including those arrived at due to vague language of definitions and possibilities to interpret norms of laws differently. The decisions taxation bodies adopted in the case of these organisations will be disputed in court.”
The civil society is especially concerned by the fact that “these audits were triggered based on information—‘delation’ in our opinion—by an unidentified individual who has read a posting on www.nur.kz on July 11, 2016, and decided human rights organisations could be posing threat to the stability in Kazakhstan. Thus, the government is encouraging delations as was practiced during repressions in 1937.” While this is said individual’s opinion, “human rights as well organisations that defend and promote them are the basis of stability, not threat, in any developed country.”
Pressure on independent civil organisations is in essence persecution for their activities in the field of human rights, the authors continue.
The signatories are urging legal institutions in Kazakhstan to defend the rights of independent human rights advocacy groups and organisations for freedom of assembly and freedom from the government’s meddling in their affairs as well as to defend human rights in Kazakhstan as required by the Kazakh government’s international obligations.
Fergana International Information Agency