Kazakhstan, US Maintain Constructive Dialogue on Human Rights, Democratic Reforms

ASTANA – Assistant to the President of Kazakhstan for International Affairs Erzhan Kazykhan and U.S. Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights Uzra Zeya co-chaired the third meeting of the annual High-Level Dialogue on Human Rights and Democratic Reforms between Kazakhstan and the United States on May 20, reported the Foreign Ministry’s press service.

Photo credit: Kazakh Foreign Ministry

During the meeting, the parties discussed cooperation between Kazakhstan and the United States on human rights-related matters of shared interest. The sides focused on implementation of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s political reform agenda that includes strengthening the protection of rights of people with disabilities, combating trafficking in persons, ensuring freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, supporting the development of media, as well as asset recovery and combating corruption.

The U.S. Department of State highlighted in its statement that the discussions also focused on the rule of law, protection of freedom of expression, including for media, and freedom of religion or belief, protection of members of vulnerable and marginalized populations, alongside multilateral cooperation, including with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and C5+1 Platform.

“Protection of human rights, including freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly, and respect for independent media are essential for a healthy and thriving democracy,” reads the statement.

According to the statement, the US reaffirmed its strong support for the full implementation of President Tokayev’s reform agenda and commended Kazakhstan for progress made in the advancement of human rights including the passage of the April 2024 law recriminalizing domestic violence, a very important step in protecting survivors.

Zeya during the meeting also highlighted the importance of consistent implementation of the Action Plan on human rights and the rule of law signed by Tokayev last December.

The parties paid special attention to strengthening the policy of zero tolerance for violence against women and children. The United States, notably, welcomed the law passed on April 15, which toughened the penalties for domestic violence and violence against children in Kazakhstan.

The U.S. delegation has encouraged advancement of Kazakhstan’s reform efforts with the full participation of, and in consultation with, civil society partners for transparency and accountability. They highlighted that respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms is integral to building a prosperous and vibrant “New Kazakhstan,” where independent media, civil society groups, and political parties can operate freely, without undue restrictions.

The participants also discussed promoting human rights at multilateral and regional fora, including through cooperation at the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council and initiatives of the C5+1 Summit held in New York last year.

Following the meeting, the participants agreed to continue productive interaction and hold the next meeting of the High-Level Dialogue in 2025 in Washington, D.C.

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