Nur-Sultan: Freedom of expression is a constitutional right of every citizen, said Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, according to the Akorda press service.
The President made these remarks at a virtual meeting with the country’s Prosecutor General office, The Astana Times reported on Wednesday.
“Since last year, Kazakhstan has had a fundamentally new law on peaceful assemblies, which introduced a notification system to organise rallies instead of the permissions that were required previously. Peaceful assemblies, including protests, can now be held in central parts of major cities,” Tokayev told the meeting, as quoted by The Astana Times.
According to him, this was a “very serious step towards the democratisation of the society.”
“We should explain this policy not only within our society, but also abroad. Those willing to protest should abide by the new law. No one is depriving citizens of their freedom of expression and voicing criticism towards the government. This is a constitutional right and it should be fulfilled in accordance with the law,” he said.
The initiative was first voiced by Tokayev in his first state-of-the-nation address in September 2019. The law was signed by Tokayev in May 2020. The President said the Prosecutor’s office has a crucial role in ensuring rule of law and fighting crime. Amid the coronavirus outbreak, the crime rate went down by 30 percent.
Reforms must continue increasing the trust of the population in the system.
“A three-tier model of criminal procedure is currently being implemented. As a result, 692 people have been released from prosecution in one month. This should continue. All major procedural decisions must pass through the prosecutor. This is a very important issue. Not a single violation of the law should go unnoticed by the prosecutor,” said Tokayev.
He also made suggestions during the meeting where he reiterated the importance of protecting the rights of business people. Over the past ten years, the efforts enabled a threefold reduction in the number of inspections, he said.
The Astana Times further reported that a moratorium on the inspection of small businesses came into effect in January 2020 and it helped decrease the number of inspections five-fold in 2020 alone. The moratorium is expected to last through January 1, 2023.
Tokayev demanded the gathering to monitor illegal inspections that are still taking place. The mobile team working to protect businesses received over 500 such complaints over the past three months.
“It is often the case that given the slightest reason, the authorities start inspection without objectivity and with bias. Documents are confiscated and businesses cannot get them back for months. Instead of working, the whole staff is interrogated. This is unacceptable. Prosecutors have to ensure strict compliance with the law in relations between businesses and all law enforcement agencies without exception,” said Tokayev.
Any illegal interference of the state apparatus in business will be considered as a grave crime and will soon be defined legally, the Kazakh news outlet reported further.
He said that law enforcement agencies should be prepared for a potential rise in crime rates.
“The negative economic and social effects stemming from the pandemic may provoke an increase in crime and delinquency. Law enforcement agencies must be prepared for this and any attempts of criminals to take advantage of the difficult situation in the country must be immediately addressed,” he said.