Kazakhstan – to uphold fair trial standards

picked up in HREA Newsletter.

ASTANA, 23 February 2007 — An OSCE trial monitoring report released today in Kazakhstan identifies the need for further steps to be taken to uphold fair trial standards in the country, including the right of the public to attend court, equality between the parties and the presumption of innocence.

The report, presented at a public meeting in Astana, summarizes the results of trial monitoring programme conducted on behalf of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in 2005 and 2006 in close co-operation with the Supreme Court.

“The right to a fair trial plays a crucial role in the maintenance of order, the rule of law and confidence in State authorities. The purpose of this trial monitoring report is to contribute to that objective,” said Mark Guthrie, deputy head of the human rights programme of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, ODIHR, which initiated the trial monitoring programme in co-operation with the Kazakh authorities.

OSCE participating States have made a commitment to accept court observers as a confidence building measure and in order to ensure transparency in the implementation of their commitments to fair judicial proceedings.

“Improving Kazakhstan’s compliance with OSCE commitments on the right to a fair trial is crucial in light of the ongoing criminal justice reforms,” said Bjorn Halvarsson, Deputy Head of the OSCE Centre in Almaty.

The 25 trial monitors, trained by the ODIHR, monitored 730 court sessions in eight regions. The report includes an assessment of the sessions’ compliance with fair trial requirements, statistics and a list of recommendations to the authorities.

“The OSCE Centre will continue to support the government by following up on the recommendations and carrying out a second round of trial monitoring during 2007,” Mr. Halvarsson said.

Representatives of the Parliament, the Supreme Court, the Constitutional Council, the Office of the General Prosecutor, the Ministry of Justice and civil society participated in today’s meeting, organized by the ODIHR, the OSCE Centre and the Supreme Court.

OSCE Press release / HREA.org.

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