Conviction of Kazakhstani Civil Society Activists Maks Bokayev and Talgat Ayan

STATEMENT BY THE U.S. DIPLOMATIC MISSION IN KAZAKHSTAN

Conviction of Kazakhstani Civil Society Activists Maks Bokayev and Talgat Ayan

The decision of the Kazakhstani regional court in Atyrau to convict and sentence Kazakhstani citizens Maks Bokayev and Talgat Ayan to five years in prison each for their alleged roles in organizing peaceful demonstrations in the spring of 2016 has raised concerns over the conduct and fairness of the legal process used to convict these two individuals. While the United States respects the laws and institutions of the Republic of Kazakhstan, it calls on Kazakhstani authorities to review the legal process in these cases to ensure it meets the high standard of Kazakhstan’s own laws and Constitution with respect to guaranteeing citizens free and fair trials and ensuring respect for the civil and legal rights of Kazakhstani citizens to express themselves freely and peacefully.

In general, the freedom to assemble peacefully and to express political views is fundamental to a stable, open, and dynamic society, responsive to the interests and concerns of its citizens. Kazakhstan’s own constitution and international covenants to which Kazakhstan is a party guarantee these freedoms. The United States shares the concerns UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai has raised on this case, and notes that vague laws, which can be interpreted in ways that criminalize peaceful dissent, can harm the rights of citizens in democratic societies. As a friend and strategic partner, the United States supports and encourages the aspirations of the people and government of Kazakhstan to build a stable, democratic, and open society based on Kazakhstan’s own values that respects and defends the legal and Constitutional rights and freedoms of all Kazakhstani citizens.