World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Kazakhstan: UN Experts Condemn Lethal Force Against Protesters, Misuse Of Term ‘Terrorists’

GENEVA (11 January 2022) – UN human rights experts* today called on the Kazakhstan authorities and security forces to halt their unrestrained use of force, including lethal force, against protesters and ensure that an independent and human-rights based investigations of State use of force against protesters is undertaken.

The experts said they were profoundly concerned that Kazakhstan’s President reportedly gave orders to security forces and army to “open fire with lethal force” against protesters he described as “bandits and terrorists”.

The Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, who carried out an official visit to Kazakhstan in May 2019, including to Aktau and Almaty, areas where the protests emerged, said that Kazakhstan’s overly broad use of the word “terrorism” in this context against protesters, civil society activists, human rights defenders, journalists and political parties appeared aimed at instilling fear and was deeply concerning. Her comments were endorsed by several other experts appointed by the Human Rights Council.

The experts cautioned against the inaccurate, rhetorical and overly broad use of the term, noting such use was inconsistent with international law and undermined human rights for all in Kazakhstan. Misuse of the word “terrorism” undermines the security of all and cheapens this term which has a specific meaning in international law.

The experts highlighted that such “terrorism” language should not be used to silence those who do not share the Government’s opinion, who are protesting about social and economic conditions, and expressing political views. Acts of violence should be appropriately dealt with under Kazakhstan’s comprehensive criminal code which is adequately equipped to address these acts. The Government must protect the legitimate exercise of fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression, and peaceful assembly and association, they said.

“The expansive branding of protesters as terrorists is a way to use Kazakhstan’s overly broad terrorism legislation that allows for the use of force, including a ‘shoot to kill’ policy, against any individual determined to be a ‘terrorist’,” the experts said.

“Such wholesale barriers to freedom of expression and assembly premised on terrorism are absolutely contrary to the strict provisions under international human rights law on the right to life.”

The experts recalled that the use of lethal force must be used solely in self-defence and when all other means have been exhausted, including non-lethal force. They stressed that these principles were also applicable to foreign forces operating on the territory of Kazakhstan with its consent.

“This shows how misguided counter-terrorism measures can be abused by a security sector that is unaccountable under the law for actions seemingly justified by countering terrorism,” the experts added.

In line with a report following her official visit to Kazakhstan in 2019, Ní Aoláin stressed the need for an independent, impartial, effective and public investigation to determine the legality of the use of force and to ensure accountability when lethal force was used by security services, law enforcement or the military. Any domestic investigation must consider Kazakhstan’s international human rights obligations.

The experts called on the authorities to ensure the well-being and fair treatment according to international law of the thousands of individuals detained since the protests began on 2 January, stressing that detention was not permitted by international law for the peaceful exercise of fundamental freedoms.

The experts recalled the key role played by information and communication technology, particularly in times of crises and amidst a global pandemic, and urged no further resort to internet shutdowns, noting that blanket measures such as complete shutdowns to silence free press were often arbitrary and rarely complied with principles of legality, proportionality and necessity.

The experts reminded Kazakhstan of the positive momentum it had made in moving towards more open and accountable government in recent years, and urged restraint and a recommitment to human rights and the rule of law.

“Human rights backsliding is a loss for all citizens of Kazakhstan, and for the Government’s global standing and rule of law and human rights-based solutions are the way forward at this time,” the experts said.

*The experts: Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism; Morris Tidball-Binz, Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions; Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment; Mary Lawlor, Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Ms. Melissa Upreti (Chair), Ms. Dorothy Estrada-Tanck (Vice Chair), Ms. Elizabeth Broderick, Ms. Ivana Radačić, and Ms. Meskerem Geset Techane, Working Group on discrimination against women and girls.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


UN News: Rare Coral Reef Discovered Near Tahiti Is ‘Like A Work Of Art’, Says Diver
One of the largest coral reefs in the world has been discovered by a UN-supported scientific mission off the coast of Tahiti. Announcing the stunning find on Thursday, UNESCO said that divers had explored large rose-shaped corals spanning some three kilometres, at depths of between 30 and 65 metres... More>>

Tonga Eruption: At Least 3 Dead, Amid Severe Destruction
At least three people have died in Tonga following the massive volcanic eruption and subsequent tsunami wave that hit over the weekend. Homes and other buildings across the archipelago have suffered major damage... More>>

Save The Children: Tonga Volcano Ash And Smoke Cause Concern For Air And Water Safety
Families in Tonga are at risk of exposure to unsafe air and water due to ash and smoke from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano that erupted on Saturday, reports Save the Children...

Ethiopia: UN Chief Lauds ‘Demonstrable Effort To Make Peace’

The UN Secretary-General on Wednesday said he was “delighted” to learn that “a demonstrable effort to make peace” in Ethiopia is finally underway, according to information relayed to him by the African Union High Representative for the Horn of Africa... More>>

Tigray: Agencies Suspend Aid As ‘Scores’ Are Killed Due To Airstrikes
Recent airstrikes on camps for internally displaced persons and refugees in Tigray, northern Ethiopia, have reportedly killed scores of civilians, including children, and left many more injured... More>>

UN News: For 25th Year In A Row, Greenland Ice Sheet Shrinks

2021 marked the 25th year in a row in which the key Greenland ice sheet lost more mass during the melting season, than it gained during the winter, according to a new UN-endorsed report issued on Friday... More>>