ASTANA – At its Feb. 5 plenary session, the Mazhilis (lower house of Parliament) approved the first reading of the draft Penal Code.
Mazhilis Speaker Nurlan Nigmatulin chaired the session and summed up the assessment of the bill, noting the importance of this new legislation.
“The new Penal Code offers mechanisms that should certainly contribute to enshrining the principles of fair punishment for crimes without infringing on the rights of prisoners. This is global practice. We need to come to this optimal, balanced option at the second reading,” he said.
The draft Penal Code changes the mechanism for the execution of punishments, primarily in terms of imprisonment, to a progressive system. It also creates a legal basis for the mechanism of probationary control and provides for the rendering of necessary social, legal and psychological assistance to inmates.
On the same day, the Mazhilis also approved associated amendments to some constitutional laws and a number of legislative acts relating to the Penal Code.
Presenting a report at the plenary session, Ramadan Sarpekov, head of the group working on the bill, noted that it held 21 group meetings with representatives of the Office of the General Prosecutor, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Council, law enforcement agencies, ministries and departments, as well as the general public and international organisations.
The provisions of the draft Penal Code were also discussed with Astana’s Department of Courts and Department of Internal Affairs, the National Bar Association and the Committee on Legal Statistics and Special Accounts of the Office of the General Prosecutor of Kazakhstan.
The draft Penal Code simplifies procedures for launching criminal proceedings, restricts the powers of investigative agencies to launch inquiry by independent decision on legal proceedings which may affect the constitutional rights of citizens and extends the participation of a lawyer from the beginning of pre-trial proceedings.
In criminal proceedings, the plea bargain provision has been introduced for the first time. People under investigation will be able to reach an accord with the prosecution on reducing the punishment for their deeds in exchange for active cooperation with the investigation. In this case, court proceedings are to be simplified and accelerated, as there won’t be a need for major investigative and judicial actions.
It is proposed to regulate the order of investigative measures within the framework of criminal procedures, especially in relation to so called unannounced investigations. At the same time, the approval of such actions by the prosecutor would protect citizens from violations of their constitutional rights to privacy.
In order to expand judicial control over pre-trial proceedings in a criminal procedure, the institution of an investigating judge was introduced. Besides authorising certain investigative actions, an investigating judge will also be able to consider complaints and petitions at the pre-trial stage.
Issues regarding the investigation of criminal infractions introduced by the draft code are also regulated.
It also stipulates the instruments that allow the state to impound money earned illegally, including from persons who flee before trial, pursuant to court order.
The Mazhilis approved the associated draft constitutional law, “On amendments to some constitutional laws of Kazakhstan” on its first reading. The bill proposes amendments to the constitutional laws, “On elections in the Republic of Kazakhstan,” “On the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the status of its deputies,” “On the Constitutional Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan,” “On the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan—Leader of the Nation” and “On the judicial system and the status of judges of the Republic of Kazakhstan.” The amendments are aimed at bringing them in line with the draft Penal Code.
The Mazhilis also approved the accompanying bill, “On amendments and additions to some legislative acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on improvement of the criminal procedural law” on its first reading. The bill proposes amendments to the civil procedure code of Kazakhstan, the code of Kazakhstan on taxes and other obligatory payments to the budget, the code of Kazakhstan on customs affairs and 36 other laws.