The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. Mission in the Republic of Kazakhstan to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Kazakhstan's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Reports at www.state.gov.
Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
The strategic aim of the U.S. Government in the country is a stable, secure, democratic, and prosperous society. The U.S. Government supports the development of democratic systems and practices in the country and urges the government to bring the country's laws into compliance with international standards and its public commitments as the acting chairman of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The U.S. Government strongly encourages the government to respect and support the civil and religious rights of its citizens, political and religious pluralism, and freedom of speech and the press. The United States promotes these goals through public and private advocacy, targeted assistance and programming efforts, and coordination with civil society actors.
Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human
Rights and Democratic Governance
The U.S. Government works with the government to bring its laws and procedures into compliance with its OSCE commitments and other international standards. The U.S. Government provides technical assistance to the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Justice, the Supreme Court, and various government agencies through implementing partners. U.S. officials work with counterparts at the Ministry of Justice and other government agencies to implement the country's 10-year legal strategy and the Human Rights Action Plan. U.S. officials monitor the implementation of recently amended media, political party, and election legislation, and encourage the country to take further steps toward political liberalization, such as adoption of legislation providing access to government information and permitting freedom of assembly. The U.S. Government and its partners were instrumental in developing new legislation to provide gender equality and assistance to victims of violence, including trafficking victims. Kazakhstan passed the laws on domestic violence and gender equality in December 2009. The U.S. Government assists in implementation by providing training programs for law enforcement and judicial officials, and victim assistance programs. The U.S. Government supports women's leadership through a number of exchange programs as well as encouraging gender balance in U.S. programs.Five female parliamentarians are slated to travel to the United States for the Open World program. Kazakhstani women have been invited to participate in the proposed 2011 Women's Empowerment Conference in Bishkek.
The U.S. Government uses a variety of diplomatic and assistance tools to support democratic institutions in the country, including the judiciary. For example, to encourage judicial accountability, the United States continues to partner with the Supreme Court, the Union of Judges, and the Institute of Justice to strengthen Kazakhstan's ability to adjudicate commercial and economic law cases. In March 2010, the U.S. Government sent 16 economic court judges and four coordinators, including 15 women, on an international commercial law study tour to the Central European and Eurasian Law Initiative Institute in Prague.
The U.S. Government is working to strengthen the legal framework for local self-governance, and improve the capacity of local government bodies to deliver services to their constituents. Assistance programs are promoting good governance at the local level and training local government and local council officials and members of citizen initiative groups. Following the training courses, the groups worked to identify and resolve local issues, such as repeal of electricity rate hikes, expansion of public transportation to outlying areas of the city, and improvements to water distribution.The United States is heavily engaged in the development of civil society and promotion of political and religious pluralism. One U.S. partner worked with the government to garner civil society input into the development of the 10-year legal policy strategy, the Human Rights Action Plan, and the current draft law on lobbying. Other U.S. programs focus on the provision of effective financial incentives for private-sector contributions to NGOs and the development of advanced lobbying and communication skills among NGOs as they become more active partners with the government. The U.S. Government continues to network with democracy information centers in four cities across the country. The United States engages with local political parties and provides assistance with internal party rules and procedures, outreach and communication strategies, policy development, ethics, and coalition building.
Through an ongoing small grants program, the U.S. Government funds a variety of civil society projects, including projects to protect children's rights, prevent violence and discrimination against women, train and develop NGOs, monitor human-rights observance by local police, and conduct seminars on religious extremism, religious freedom, and tolerance. The United States also uses exchange programs to train local political and human rights activists to promote religious diversity and advocate for human rights.
The U.S. Government directly supports independent media through a regional satellite television broadcasting program to increase access to objective reporting on the region. The U.S. Government funds professional, legal, and technical support and training programs for media outlets, journalists, and media-related organizations on a variety of issues, including libel, advertising, language requirements, and licensing. The U.S. Government actively promotes the participation of local journalists in exchange programs, including the International Visitors Leadership Program. The U.S. Government actively reaches out to the media community and engages with professional organizations, such as the Editor-in-Chief Club. At the request of the Club, the U.S. Government arranged for a U.S. media professional to advise media outlets in the country about electronic journalism.