Kazakhstan: arbitrary disbarments undermine the independence of lawyers

At the UN, the ICJ today highlighted the need for Kazakhstan to ensure the independence of the legal profession and the judiciary, in particular by ending the arbitrary disbarment of lawyers.

The statement, delivered during the adoption of the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Kazakhstan by the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The statement read as follows:

“The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) welcomes the acceptance by Kazakhstan of the recommendations by Denmark (138.83), France (139.85), Mexico (139.86) and Austria (139.113) to uphold the rule of law and to protect the independence of the legal profession and the judiciary.

The ICJ however regrets that Kazakhstan only noted and did not explicitly support the recommendation by Czechia to “take immediate measures to ensure the effective protection of lawyers, media workers, bloggers and human rights defenders against any form of harassment” (139.114).

Furthermore, based on ICJ research, we regret to report that Kazakhstan’s assertion  that the accepted recommendations are “in the process of implementation” (A/HRC/43/10/Add.1, para. 4) is simply not correct.

On the contrary, the ICJ considers that the independence of the legal profession is being actively undermined in the country.

The ICJ expresses particular concern at disbarment proceedings initiated by the Ministry of Justice, including the recent disbarment of Amanzhol Mukhamediarov and Yerlan Gazymzhanov.[1]

Finally, the situation is exacerbated by a Law on Advokatura that does not require the Bar Association’s authorisation to initiate disbarment proceedings.

To actually implement the recommendations accepted by Kazakhstan, ICJ calls on Kazakh authorities to stop all harassment of lawyers through disciplinary proceedings, readmit the lawyers unduly disbarred and reform its Law on Advokatura in line with international standards on independence of the legal profession.”

[1] See ICJ statement at https://www.icj.org/kazakhstan-disbarment-of-erlan-gazymzhanov-and-amanzhol-mukhamediarov-undermines-the-independence-of-the-legal-profession-icj-says/ .

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