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Freedom House says OSCE should deny Kazakh chairmanship bid

Wednesday, 06 December 2006 / Published in Appeals, BB Govinda Swami / 3,880 views

Submitted by BB Govinda Swami

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Amanda Abrams, 202-747-7035

OSCE Should Deny Kazakh Chairmanship Bid

Washington, D.C., and Budapest, Hungary — The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) should reject Kazakhstan’s bid to chair the institution in 2009, Freedom House said today. Kazakhstan has consistently rated among the poorest performers in Freedom House analysis in virtually every institutional respect.

The OSCE’s executive decision making body, the Ministerial Council, is scheduled to take up the Kazakh candidacy at a meeting in Vienna on December
4 and 5. Given the Kazakh government’s poor record on democracy and flouting of fundamental obligations both within and outside of the OSCE context, Freedom House believes it would be inappropriate for the OSCE to award Astana the chairmanship at this time.

“Kazakhstan is simply not ready to chair an organization that represents European democratic ideals,” said Jennifer Windsor, Executive Director of Freedom House. “The Kazakh case is not that of one or two isolated areas of democratic shortcomings; rather, the government systemically underperforms across all of the sectors that are indispensable building blocks for democratic systems, including press freedom, judicial independence, and the election process,” she added.

In the country’s most recent presidential election in December 2005, the OSCE itself deemed the Kazakh government’s performance to be highly inadequate. Election results showed President Nursultan Nazarbayev to have garnered 91 percent of the vote. As the OSCE’s International Election Observation Mission wrote then, “Despite some improvements in the administration of this election in the pre-election period, the presidential election did not meet a number of OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections.” The poor evaluation of the election was consistent with previous reports.

In 2006, Freedom House’s annual survey, Freedom in the World, gave Kazakhstan a 6 for political rights and a 5 for civil liberties (out of a lowest 7), ranking the country Not Free. The report pointed out that the media is not free: the government has repeatedly harassed or shut down many independent media outlets, and the country’s criminal code prohibits insulting the honor and dignity of the president. Additionally, the judiciary’s independence is significantly constrained by the Constitution, and corruption is evident throughout the judicial system.

This systematic denial of democratic rights argues against granting Kazakhstan the leadership of the OSCE, which continues to play an indispensable role in promoting security and democratic values in Europe and Eurasia.

Freedom House, an independent non-governmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has monitored political rights and civil liberties in Kazakhstan since 1991.

More information on Kazakhstan can be found at:

Freedom in the World 2006: Kazakhstan http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=22&year=2006&country=6990

Nations in Transit 2006: Kazakhstan http://www.freedomhouse.hu/pdfdocs/kazakhstan2006.pdf

Freedom of the Press 2006 http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=251&year=2006

Countries at the Crossroads 2006: Kazakhstan http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=140&edition=7&ccrpage=31&ccrco untry=119

BBC News video: Harassment claim in Kazakhstan
KAZ UPDATE FROM DELHI December 5th
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