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KAZAKHSTAN: “Unlawful” fine – but will state do anything about it?
ICC Note:
“Kazakhstan continues to use property-related legal cases as a way of stopping people exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief,” says Forum 18 News.
By  Mushfig Bayram
08/13/2012 Kazakhstan (Forum18)- Kazakhstan continues to use property-related legal cases as a way of stopping people exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief, Forum 18 News Service has found. Although one such fine imposed on a forcibly closed Methodist Church has been admitted to be illegal, officials have refused to admit that other fines and bans imposed for the same reason and in the same circumstances – for example bans on Ahmadi Muslims meeting – are also illegal. Officials have also been unwilling to discuss the question of halting future illegalities, or taking disciplinary or other action against the officials responsible. In a different case, another Protestant Church has been forced to close for alleged violations of fire safety rules in a building it rents.
Communities from all faiths across Kazakhstan have told Forum 18 within the last month that they do not wish to complain about the authorities’ actions in relation to bans on meetings or property-related cases, as they are preparing applications for re-registration. Religious communities of all faiths are afraid that, if they challenge any human rights violations by the authorities, they will be denied re-registration and banned under the 2011 Religion Law.
The Religion Law – against international human rights law – bans all exercise of freedom of religion or belief without state registration, and imposes compulsory re-registration by 25 October 2012. This and the accompanying need for state “expert opinion” on community documents and beliefs is placing obstacles in the way of registration being gained.
In Taldykorgan [Taldyqorghan], in Almaty Region, the authorities forced a Methodist Church in June to “voluntarily” announce its closure. The order followed an earlier fine on the wife of the Church’s Pastor. Larissa Kim was fined for using her private home – the Church’s registered legal address – for meetings for religious worship. The Church was then forced to pay for an announcement in newspapers that the Church had decided to liquidate itself. “We do not want more punishment from the authorities,” Pastor Valery Kim told Forum 18.

No official was prepared to discuss how illegalities the state admits it commits can be stopped, or what disciplinary or other action will be taken against officials who break domestic laws or international human rights law Kazakhstan has formally promised to implement.

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