Kazakhstan

Last updated: 7 July 2022

Update

Kazakhstan held a republican referendum on amendments to the Constitution on June 5, 2022. Based on the results, which were announced by the Central Electoral Commission on June 7, the referendum was recognized as valid, and the voter turnout was 68.05%, or almost 8 million people. 77.18%, or 6.15 million people, voted for the amendments. The main amendments include:

  1. Prohibition of the death penalty
  2. Restoration of the Constitutional Court
  3. Cancellation of the title of Elbasy (“Leader of Nations”) and the privileges provided for the First President. For example, the privilege for the First President to be elected more than twice in a row has been abolished. Now no one can be president for more than two consecutive terms.
  4. Introduction of a ban for close relatives of the President to hold positions of political civil servants or heads of organizations in the quasi-public sector.
  5. The President for the period of his tenure has no right to be a member of any political party.

The provisions of the Constitution relating to the NGO sector were not affected, however.

Introduction

Civil society in Kazakhstan has steadily become more diverse, visible, and robust since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Civil society organizations (CSOs) established during the early 1990s were inspired by the rapid process of reform and were primarily concerned with human rights issues and the “democracy agenda.” By 1997, the number of CSOs had reached 1,600, due primarily to significant financial support from international funding agencies, including from the United States and Western Europe. The growth of CSOs has continued to accelerate and as of 2021, according to data taken from the website of the Ministry of Information and Public Development, there are 22,240 CSOs registered in the country. CSOs are engaged in a wide range of activities, from mutual benefit organizations such as homeowners’ associations, to organizations promoting human rights, protecting the interests of vulnerable groups, engaging in the delivery of social services, and supporting environmental causes. Recent years have seen the development of formal arrangements for CSO–Government cooperation, as well as the rise of organizations engaged in service provision and meeting social development challenges.

The available government funding for social contracts awarded to CSOs has also grown dramatically. Over the 30 years of Kazakhstan’s independence, state funding for civil initiatives has exceeded 140 billion tenge. More than 2.5 thousand CSOs use the state support mechanism. Several sets of amendments to the social contracting law that improve the transparency of the process and the selection criteria for vendors were enacted in the past nine years, most recently in 2019. The amendments also open the door to longer-term financing programs, require all government agencies awarding social contracts to establish councils for cooperation with CSOs, and establish new rights and obligations of CSOs in the implementation of state social contracting. In addition, the government continues to increase funding allocations to CSOs in the form of state grants. Starting in 2017, the government has issued state awards to CSOs for their contribution to resolving social problems via successful implementation of state social contracts. 287 NGOs have become the winners of the award (2017 – 59 NGOs; 2018 – 63 NGOs; 2019 – 63 NGOs; 2020 – 38 NGOs; 2021 – 64 NGOs).

The government introduced several legal measures that increased control over CSOs’ receipt of donations. In 2015, the government created a new mandatory reporting database, requiring all CSOs to submit annual reports on their activities, funders, key managers, and other types of information. The requirements for the CSO database were later revised and improved following CSO advocacy efforts. In July 2016, Kazakhstan adopted the so-called “Law on Payments,” which introduced new reporting requirements in the Tax Code for organizations (including CSOs) and individuals regarding the receipt and expenditure of foreign funds and/or assets. An organization or an individual that falls within the scope of this provision must provide a notification to the tax authorities, as well as information on the receipt and expenditure of funds and/or other assets received from foreign sources to the tax authorities. In addition, they must label all publications produced with support from foreign funds as funded from foreign sources. Kazakh legislation provides for severe administrative penalties for non-compliance with these new requirements. In late 2020-early 2021, provisions in the Law on Payments were actively used against CSOs, including human rights organizations. In the fall-winter of 2021, CSOs actively tried to convince the government to repeal or substantially revise the most restrictive requirements in the Law on Payments. Numerous amendments to the Tax Code and the Code of Administrative Offenses have been proposed. However, they were not accepted by the Government. The only result of the CSOs’ campaign was that on December 28, 2021 the new order of the Minister of Finance was adopted. According to the new Order the reporting period for reporting information on foreign funding was changed from the quarter to a half year.

Despite these initiatives, since 2003, the government has hosted ten high-profile biannual civic forums. These forums serve as dialogue platforms where hundreds of CSOs from throughout Kazakhstan and representatives of national and local governmental bodies discuss current issues and develop specific recommendations for civil society development and CSO-government cooperation. Relatedly, the government’s new Concept on Civil society Development until 2025, adopted in August 2020, has the potential to improve the regulation of CSOs through positive reforms, new mechanisms to increase involvement of civil society in the discussion of legislative initiatives, and opportunities for enhanced CSO-government cooperation.

Organizational Forms Institutions; public associations; foundations; consumer cooperatives; religious associations; Associations of individual entrepreneurs and/or gal entities in a form of association (union).
Registration Body Ministry of Justice
Barriers to Entry Unregistered public associations are prohibited. Foreign citizens and stateless persons cannot form public associations.

A minimum of 10 citizens required to form public associations

Barriers to Activities Excessive penalties for minor violations
Barriers to Speech and/or Advocacy None
Barriers to International Contact None
Barriers to Resources None
Barriers to Assembly Five working day advance permission requirement; spontaneous assemblies not allowed; local authorities have broad power to restrict the locations of assemblies.

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Population 19,245,793 (July 2021 est.)
Capital Nur-Sultan
Type of Government Republic; Centralized Presidential Rule
Life Expectancy at Birth Male: 67.12 years Female: 77.06 years (2021 est.)
Literacy Rate Male: 99.8% Female: 99.8% (2015 est.)
Religious Groups Muslim 70.2%, Christian 26.2% (mainly Russian Orthodox), other 0.2%, atheist 2.8%, unspecified 0.5% (2009 est.)
Ethnic Groups Kazakh (Qazaq) 68%, Russian 19.3%, Uzbek 3.2%, Ukrainian 1.5%, Uighur 1.5%, Tatar 1.1%, German 1%, other 4.4% (2019 est.)
GDP per capita $25,300 (2020 est.)

Source: The World Factbook. Washington, DC: Central Intelligence Agency.

Ranking Body Rank Ranking Scale
(best – worst possible)
UN Human Development Index 51 (2020) 1 – 189
World Justice Project Rule of Law Index 66 (2021) 1 – 139
Transparency International 94 (2020) 1 – 180
Freedom House: Freedom in the World Not free
Political Rights: 5
Civil Liberties: 18 (2021)
1 – 40
1 – 60
Foreign Policy: Fragile States Index 118 (2022) 179 – 1

International and Regional Human Rights Agreements

Key International Agreements Ratification* Year
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Yes 2006
Optional Protocol to ICCPR (ICCPR-OP1) Yes 2009
International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) Yes 2006
Optional Protocol to ICESCR (OP-ICESCR) No
International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) Yes 1998
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Yes 1998
Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (OP-CEDAW) Yes 2001
Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Yes 1994
International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of their Families (ICRMW) No
Convention on the Rights of Persons with No Disabilities (CRPD) Yes 2015
Regional Treaties
Organization for Security Co-operation in Europe Yes 1992

* Category includes ratification, accession, or succession to the treaty

Constitutional Framework

The Constitution of Kazakhstan was adopted on August 30, 1995, and amended several times, including most recently on June 5, 2022. The latest amendments and additions to the Constitution were made by the law dated June 8, 2022, which was adopted at the republican referendum on June 5, 2022. The provisions of the Constitution, which determine the procedure for the adoption of constitutional laws and laws, as well as the activities of the Constitutional Court, come into force on January 1, 2023.

Relevant provisions include:

  • Article 4. The Constitution shall have the highest juridical force and direct effect on the entire territory of the Republic. International treaties ratified by the Republic shall have priority over its laws. The procedure and conditions for the operation of international treaties on the territory of the Republic of Kazakhstan, to which Kazakhstan is a party, are determined by the legislation of the Republic.
  • Article 5. Public associations shall be equal before the law. Unlawful interference of the state in the affairs of public associations and of public associations in the affairs of the state, imposing the functions of state bodies on public associations shall not be permitted. Formation and functioning of public associations pursuing the goals or actions directed toward a violent change of the constitutional system, violation of the integrity of the Republic, undermining the security of the state, inciting social, racial, national, religious, class and tribal enmity, as well as formation of unauthorized paramilitary units shall be prohibited.
  • Article 14.No one shall be subject to any discrimination for reasons of origin, social rank, property status, occupation, sex, race, nationality, language, religious views, convictions, place of residence or any other circumstances.
  • Article 18.State bodies, public associations, officials, and the mass media must provide every citizen with the possibility to obtain access to documents, decisions and other sources of information concerning his rights and interests.
  • Article 20.The freedom of speech and creative activities shall be guaranteed. Censorship shall be prohibited. Everyone shall have the right to freely receive and disseminate information by any means not prohibited by law. The list of items constituting state secrets of the Republic of Kazakhstan shall be determined by law. Propaganda of or agitation for the forcible change of the constitutional system, violation of the integrity of the Republic, undermining of state security, and advocating war, social, racial, national, religious, class and clannish superiority as well as the worship of cruelty and violence shall not be allowed.
  • Article 22.Everyone shall have the right to freedom of conscience. The right to freedom of conscience must not specify or limit universal human and civil rights and responsibilities before the state.
  • Article 23.Citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan shall have the right to freedom of forming associations. The activities of public associations shall be regulated by law. Chairmen and judges of the Constitutional Court, the Supreme Court and other courts, chairmen and members of the Central Election Commission, the Supreme Audit Chamber of the Republic, the military, employees of national security, law-enforcement bodies and judges must abstain from membership in political parties, trade unions, and actions in support of any political party.
  • Article 32.Citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan shall have the right to assemble peacefully and without arms, hold meetings, rallies and demonstrations, street processions and pickets. The use of this right may be restricted by law in the interests of state security, public order, protection of health, rights and freedoms of other persons.
  • Article 33.Citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan shall have the right to participate in the government of the state’s affairs directly and through their representatives, to address personally as well as to direct individual and collective appeals to state bodies and local self-governance bodies.
  • Article 39. Rights and freedoms of an individual and citizen may be limited only by laws and only to the extent necessary for protection of the constitutional system, defense of the public order, human rights and freedoms, health and morality of the population.

Below is an overview of some amendments to the Constitution:

1) Article 15 provides that the death penalty is prohibited. Previously, the Constitution provided that “the death penalty is established by law as an exceptional measure of punishment for terrorist crimes involving the death of people, as well as for especially grave crimes committed in wartime, with the right to apply for pardon to the sentenced person.”

2) Article 43 of the Constitution is supplemented with the following points: “3. For the period of exercising his powers, the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan should not be a member of a political party. “4. Close relatives of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan are not entitled to hold positions of political civil servants, heads of organizations of the quasi-public sector.”

3) Article 46 of the Constitution excludes clause 4: “The status and powers of the First President of Kazakhstan are determined by the Constitution of the Republic and the constitutional law.” In paragraph 2 of Art. 91 of the Constitution, the words “the Founder of independent Kazakhstan, the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan – Elbasy, and his status are unchanged.” Thus, the status of Elbasy is no longer considered unchanged.

4) Changes to the Article 42 of the Constitution: the words “This restriction does not apply to the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan” were deleted. It means, the same person cannot be elected President of the Republic more than twice in a row and there are no more exceptions to this restriction for the First President of RK.

5) Throughout the text of the constitution, the Constitutional Council has been replaced by the Constitutional Court. The Chairman of the Constitutional Court is appointed by the President with the consent of the Senate of the Parliament. In terms of the scope of powers, the Constitutional Court differs from the Constitutional Council in that the list of persons who can apply to the Constitutional Court was expanded. Namely, citizens of RK, the Prosecutor General, the Commissioner for Human Rights received a right to apply to Constitutional Court in order to obtain a court decision on the compliance / non-compliance of the normative legal act with the Constitution.

6) Parliament is now obliged to immediately consider draft laws submitted by the Government at a joint meeting of the chambers, if they are aimed at promptly responding to conditions that threaten the life and health of the population, the constitutional order, the protection of public order, and the economic security of the country. At the same time, the Government has the right to adopt, under its own responsibility, temporary normative legal acts having the force of law, which will be in force until the Parliament adopts the relevant laws or does not adopt such laws.

National Laws and Regulations Affecting Sector

Relevant national-level laws and regulations affecting civil society include:

  1. The Civil Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Part 1 (December 27, 1994);
  2. The Tax Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan (December 25, 2017);
  3. The Labor Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan(May 15, 2007);
  4. Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan (July 3, 2014);
  5. The Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Administrative Offences(July 5, 2014);
  6. The Law “On Public Associations”(May 31, 1996);
  7. The Law “On Noncommercial Organizations”(January 16, 2001);
  8. The Law “On Registration of Legal Entities and Record-Keeping Registration of Branches and Representative Offices”(April 17, 1995);
  9. The Law “On Professional Unions”(April 9, 1993);
  10. The Law “On Religious Activity and Religious Associations”(October 11, 2011);
  11. The Law “On Procedure for Organizing and Conducting of Peaceful Assemblies in the Republic of Kazakhstan” (May 25, 2020)
  12. The Law “On State Social Contracting, Grants and Awards for Nongovernmental Organizations in the RK”(April 12, 2005);
  13. Law “On State Procurements”(December 4, 2015);
  14. Law “On Special Social Services”(December 29, 2008);
  15. Law on Rural Agricultural Cooperatives (October 29, 2015);
  16. Law “On Consumer Cooperatives”(May 8, 2001);
  17. Law “On Housing Relations”(April 16, 1997);
  18. Law “On Joint Stock Companies”(May 13, 2003);
  19. Law “On State Youth Policy”(February 9, 2015);
  20. Law “On Social Protection of Disabled Persons in the Republic of Kazakhstan”(April 13, 2005);
  21. Ecological Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan (January 9, 2007);
  22. Law “On Banks and Banking Activities”(August 31, 1995);
  23. Law “On Tourist Activities”(June 13, 2001);
  24. Law “On Protection of Consumers’ Rights” (May 4, 2010);
  25. Law “On Notarial System”(July 14, 1997);
  26. Law “On Advocatory Activities and Legal Assistance”(July 5, 2018);
  27. Law “On Auditing Activities”(November 20, 1998);
  28. Law “On Appraising Activities”(January 10, 2018);
  29. Entrepreneurial Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan (October 29, 2015);
  30. Rules for the provision of the public service “Issuance of a certificate of registration (re-registration) of legal entities, of record registration (re-registration) of their branches and representative offices” (Appendix 6 to the order of the Minister of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan (May 29, 2020)
  31. Law on Public Councils(November 2, 2015)
  32. Law on Access to Information(November 16, 2015)
  33. Law on Charity(November 16, 2015)
  34. Law on Payments and Payment Systems (July 26, 2016)
  35. Order No.241 of the Ministry of Finance dated from February 20, 2018 on Approval of the Rules, Form and Terms to Submit Notification to the State Income Authorities about the Receipt of Funds and (or) other Assets from Foreign States, International and Foreign Organizations, Foreigners, and Stateless Persons.
  36. Order No. 242 of the Ministry of Finance dated from February 20, 2018 on Approval of the Rules, Form and Terms to Submit Reporting to the State Income Authorities about the Receipt and the Expenditure of Funds and (or) other Assets from Foreign States, International and Foreign Organizations, Foreigners, and Stateless Persons.
  37. Order No. 240 of the Ministry of Finance dated from February 20, 2018 on Approval of the Rules on Maintaining a Database on Entities-Recipients of Funds and (or) other Assets, their Donors and Other Information, on Inclusion and Exclusion from the Database.
  38. Law on Volunteering (December 30, 2016).
  39. Law on Introduction of Amendments to Some Legislative Acts on Issues of Countering Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (Law on AML/CFT) (May 13, 2020)
  40. Law on Procedure of Organization and Conducting Peaceful Assemblies (May 25, 2020)
  41. Law on Legal Acts (April 6, 2016)
  42. Order of the acting Of the Minister of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On approval of the Rules for posting draft subordinate normative legal acts on the Internet portal of open normative legal acts” dated September 30, 2021 No. 849.

Pending NGO Legislative / Regulatory Initiatives

1. Since 2018, the government has worked on a concept for new amendments to the Law on Non-commercial Organizations (draft NCO Law). The concept proposes a package of amendments affecting various areas of CSO regulation, such as unifying terminology regarding CSOs, simplifying the registration and liquidation processes for CSOs, and providing tax benefits for CSOs and donors. There was no significant progress in developing the draft law in 2019-2020, but in June 2021 the Ministry of Information and Public Development (MIPD) resumed work on this initiative. According to the new requirements for the development of legal acts, the MIPD invited CSOs to draft the regulatory policy consultative document on improving CSO legislation, which was to be prepared before the development of the concept of the law and should describe the problems that call for legislative regulation. The working group included CSO representatives and government bodies, including the MIPD, and focused on improving the conceptual framework, organizational and legal forms, financing and taxation, and regulation of criminal and administrative liability of CSOs. By the end of the year, there was no news about the status of this initiative. Originally, it was planned that the concept paper and the draft law itself would be submitted for parliament’s consideration in September 2022, but there has been no news about this initiative since 2021.

Since 2021, a new initiative regarding public associations has appeared, however. The name of the initiative is the draft law “on the introduction of amendments and additions to some legislative acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on issues of public associations.” The concept of this draft law was published on the Open Legal Acts portal on June 15, 2022. The public discussion was expected to last until July 7, 2022. The main amendment would decrease the number of Kazakhstani citizens-initiators of a public association from 10 to two. (“A public association is created at the initiative of a group of citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan of at least two people”). The same amendment is proposed for trade unions and revision unions of agricultural cooperatives.

2. The government developed amendments to draft legislation on charity and volunteering activity and later incorporated changes into social contracting legislation (the “draft law”). The draft law was submitted for public discussion on the Open Legal Acts web portal on April 16, 2021. The main goal of this draft law is to increase the number of incentives (except for tax incentives) for people to engage in volunteering and charity.

The amendments also include the regulation of electronic charity through crowdfunding platforms and online donations. Another goal is to introduce a new strategic partnership mechanism that will contribute to the development of cooperation between the government and civil society. Requirements for the competition and the terms of strategic partnership will be determined through implementing regulations. Local independent experts are concerned that such a mechanism could lead to monopolization in the CSO sector.

On September 30, 2021, the government submitted the draft law to the parliament. The parliament working group started its work on November 3, 2021 and finished its work on June 6, 2022. There were 22 meetings overall. MPs criticized and expressed their doubts about the need to introduce a strategic partnership mechanism, a new register of charitable organizations, and certificates to confirm the length of service as a volunteer. The developer of the draft law (MIPD) agreed with the arguments of the deputies and promised to finalize the controversial provisions of the draft law or remove them from the draft after agreement with the government. In the end, the introduction of a new register of charitable organizations and certificates confirming the length of service as a volunteer were canceled, while norms relating to strategic partnership were retained in the draft law.

The draft law amends article 39 of the NCO Law. Currently the supreme governing body of an NCO can be not only a general meeting, congress, conference, founder, but also a board of trustees. This is an enabling amendment because it allows foundations to have a board of trustees as the supreme governing body, and not founders, as was the case before. Within the framework of the Law on Charity, the board of trustees is the only supreme governing body of a charitable organization (this is not a new provision, but nobody was forced to follow it in the past). Some of the deputies tried to change this provision but failed, which means that charitable public associations and charitable institutions will have to create a board of trustees and make it the supreme body, while according to the NCO Law, the supreme body of public association is the general meeting of members of the association, and supreme body in the institution are the founder(s).

On June 23, 2022, the Senate adopted this law with the official name of “Law on amendments and additions to certain legislative acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on volunteering, charity, state social order, state order for the implementation of strategic partnerships, grants and awards for non-governmental organizations, drug and social security.” The law was pending the President’s signature as of July 2022.

3. The government started developing a new Law on Public Control in October 2020. The purpose of the initiative is to improve the accountability of state bodies and the state-affiliated sector to the public. CSOs supported the overall idea of developing the law but stressed the need for a deliberate approach and adequate public discussion. The first draft was progressive and included basic principles and guarantees for public control activities. However, in January 2021, the Minister of MIPD Aida Balayeva met with CSOs in Almaty to discuss the draft Law and it was completely rewritten without consulting CSOs and then presented during the subsequent public hearings. After significant criticism, the draft law was again rewritten and improved.

In July 2021, the government concluded public discussion of the draft law. The current version of the draft law narrows the concept of “public control” to “activities aimed at analyzing and assessing the activities of objects of public control, affecting the rights and legitimate interests of an unlimited number of persons, as well as the development of recommendations.” The forms of exercising public control are limited only to those provided by the law on public control, as well as those already provided for in other laws in force.

The draft law was submitted to the Parliament in late November 2021. On December 15, 2021, the working group on the draft law was developed and first meeting was held on December 21, 2021. Discussion of the bill was very heated and only technical amendments to the bill were adopted. The rest of the amendments were sent for further revision. CSO members of the working group tried to prevent the amendments proposed by the MPs, which further worsen the draft law and narrow the right of citizens to exercise public control. A total of 12 meetings of the working group were held. Work on the draft law will be continued after the summer parliamentary holidays in 2022.

4. The regulatory policy advisory document to the draft Law “on Amendments and Additions to the Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Administrative Offenses” (hereinafter – the document) was published on the Open Normative Legal Acts portal on June 8, 2022. Public online discussion lasted until July 1, 2022. The document noted several issues related to the legal responsibility for violations of the Law on Access to Information. In particular, there is no administrative liability for failure to provide a response to a request (Art. 9 and Art. 11); untimely or incomplete provision of information upon request (Art. 9 and Art. 11); non-posting of information in the premises occupied (Art. 12) on the Internet resource (Art. 16); absence or non-updating of information on the web portal of “Electronic government” in cases established by the legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan on access to information (Article 17); and lack of necessary conditions for persons with disabilities when providing information (clause 7 of Art. 9 and Art. 12) on restrictions for access to public meetings (Art. 13).

As a result, under Article 456-1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses a negligible number of violations have been recorded. Thus, it has been proposed to amend and add Article 456-1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses to expand the list of grounds for bringing administrative responsibility for illegally restricting of the right to access to information. Representatives of the CSO sector spoke and wrote about this problem even during the adoption of the Law on Access to Information in 2015. This initiative can be considered as positive.

5. The regulatory policy advisory document to the draft Law “on Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Access to Information and Public Participation” was published on the Open Normative Legal Acts portal on June 8, 2022. The end date for online discussion was July 1, 2022. The document notes that the failure to comply with the requirements for ensuring access to information by information holders is systemic. In this regard, it has been proposed to:

– Add to the Law “on Access to Information” an article on “Supervision over the application of this Law”, which determines that the prosecution authorities exercise supreme supervision over compliance with the law in the field of access to information, and that acts of prosecutorial supervision are mandatory for all information holders;

– capture the principles, mechanisms and tools of openness in the regulatory legal acts regulating the spheres of education and science, land relations, ecology, labor and social protection of the population, health care, finance; and

– regulate the procedure for classifying information in the Administrative Procedural Code that means that this procedure will be regulated at the level of a legislative act and not at the level of regulations.

In terms of improving the scope of public participation, the document proposes to:

– amend the Law “on Legal Acts”, in particular, to provide for public discussions of draft laws initiated by deputies of the Majilis. Since citizens and businesses currently do not have the opportunity to influence the draft laws developed under the legislative initiative of the deputies of the Parliament; and

– amend the Law “on International Treaties” by supplementing it with provisions on ensuring the procedure for publishing and conducting public discussions of draft international treaties. This initiative can also be viewed as a positive one.

6. On June 21, 2022, the draft amendments to the CSO database regulation dated February 19, 2016 No. 51 was posted on the Open Normative Legal Acts portal. Public discussion of the document will last until July 5, 2022. Most of the amendments are positive and help simplify the reporting process for CSOs. However, the amendments requiring the provision of additional information on “organizations/bodies from which states have received or donated charitable or sponsorship assistance”, which apply to all CSOs without exception, can be considered as negative. Namely, table 6 of the Regulations, “Organizations/bodies, states with which cooperation/partnership documents have been concluded,” requires the providing information on partner organizations with which the CSO carries out projects or simply cooperates.

It has been proposed that CSOs provide completely different information, which is justified by the need to comply with the Law “on Combating the Legalization (Laundering) of Proceeds from Crime and the Financing of Terrorism”. Namely, it will be necessary to provide information on organizations/bodies from which charitable or sponsorship assistance was received or from which charitable or sponsorship assistance was transferred. Information should include the name of the organization, BIN, the amount of money received or transferred, and the purpose of using the funds. At the same time, it is necessary to break this information into three categories: charitable assistance, sponsorship, and other income. This amendment is presented as an editorial change to the table heading.

7. Despite the advocacy work carried out by Kazakh CSOs on the correct implementation of FATF Recommendation 8, the MIPD proposed to introduce this requirement to all CSOs without conducting a risk assessment in the CSO sector and identifying those CSOs that are at higher risk of being used for terrorist financing from the point of view of the FATF.

In addition, charitable and volunteering laws do not clearly distinguish between charitable and voluntary organizations and non-profit organizations that sometimes do charity work or sometimes involve volunteers. The developer decided to simply extend the requirement to provide additional information on volunteers and charity to all CSOs within CSO database.

Please help keep us informed; if you are aware of pending initiatives, write to ICNL at ngomonitor@icnl.org.

Organizational Forms

The Civil Code (CC) of Kazakhstan defines a non-commercial organization (NCO) as a legal entity that does not seek to produce income and that does not distribute earned net income to its participants. The CC recognizes a large number of organizational forms of NCOs: institutions, public associations, foundations, consumer cooperatives, religious associations, associations of individual entrepreneurs, and associations of legal entities. NCOs can also be created in other forms pursuant to separate laws, such as notary chambers, bar associations, chambers of commerce and industry, professional auditing organizations, cooperatives of apartment owners, and chambers of appraisers.

All legal entities created on the territory of Kazakhstan, regardless of the purpose of their creation, type and nature of activities, participants, or members, must register with the Ministry of Justice.

The most popular forms of NCOs are as follows:

  1. An organization created and financed by its founder for the performance of managerial, social, cultural or any other functions of non-commercial nature (Article 105 of CC).
  2. Public associations. Political parties, professional unions and other associations of citizens created on a voluntary basis for the attainment of common goals which do not contradict legislation (Article 106 of CC). The Law on Public Associations (PA Law) further categorizes public associations by territorial status. National public associations are associations that have subordinate structures (branches and representative offices) on the territories of more than a half of the regions of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Regional public associations are associations with subordinate structures (branches and representative offices) on the territories of less than half of the regions of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Local public associations are associations operating within the borders of one region of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Article 7 of PA Law).
  3. Foundations. A non-commercial organization without membership, which is founded by citizens and/or legal entities on the basis of their voluntary property contributions, and which pursues social, charity, cultural, educational, and any other publicly useful purposes (Article 107 of CC).
  4. Consumer cooperatives. A voluntary association of citizens on the basis of membership, formed for the satisfaction of their financial and other needs by means of pooling the property contributions of the individual members (Article 108 of CC).
  5. Religious associations. A voluntary association of citizens who unite in accordance with the procedure stipulated in legislative acts, on the basis of their common interests for satisfying their spiritual needs (Article 109 of CC).
  6. Associations of individual entrepreneurs and/or legal entities in a form of association (union). An association of either individual entrepreneurs or legal entities formed for the purpose of coordinating their entrepreneurial activity, as well as for representing and protection of their common interest (unions) (Article 110 of CC).

According to the Ministry of Information and Public Development’s website, in 2021 there were 22,240 registered CSOs.

Public Benefit Status

On November 16, 2015, the President signed the Law on Charity, which for the first time established regulations on charitable activities in Kazakhstan. Before its adoption, Kazakh law did not use the term “charity” or “charitable organization.” Most charitable organizations were registered as public associations or foundations and therefore were regulated as NCOs.

The new law defines “charity” as “socially useful activities based on the rendering of charitable aid and the satisfaction of human needs carried out on a voluntary and free of charge basis or on preferential terms in the form of philanthropic, sponsorship and patronage activities.”

The Law further defines each of the forms of charity:

1) “charitable aid – property provided by the benefactor on a gratuitous basis in order to assist the recipient in improving a financial and/or material situation:
in the form of social support to the individual; or
in the form of sponsorship aid;
to a noncommercial organization with the purpose to support its statutory activities; and
to an organization that carries out activities in the social sphere determined in accordance with the Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan ‘On Taxes and other Mandatory Payments to the Budget’ (the Tax Code);”

2) “sponsorship – the activity of the sponsor on rendering charitable aid on the terms of popularizing the sponsor’s name in accordance with this Law, the laws of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and international treaties of the Republic of Kazakhstan;”

3) “patronage activity – the activity of the patron on rendering charitable aid on the basis of goodwill in the development of science, education, culture, art, sportsmanship, preservation of the historical and ethnocultural heritage of society and the state in accordance with this Law, the laws of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and international treaties of the Republic of Kazakhstan.”

The Law defines “charitable organization” as a “noncommercial organization created for the purpose of charity in accordance with this Law, laws of the Republic of Kazakhstan, and international treaties of the Republic of Kazakhstan.” Under this definition, a charitable organization is not a new legal form of NCO that can be registered, but rather an informal status, as the Law does not provide any clarity regarding the process of acquiring status as a “charitable organization.” In order to be considered as a charitable organization, an NCO must meet the requirements set by the Law. In particular, the Law sets specific requirements for the charter of charitable organizations and states that the supreme governing body of a charitable organization must be its guardian council (board of trustees). This is not compatible with any existing form of NCO, whose governing body is either a general meeting of members (for public associations and associations of legal entities) or a general meeting of founders or one founder (for foundations and institutions). Therefore, none of the existing NCOs would qualify as a charitable organization in accordance with this Law until they make appropriate changes in their structure and founding documents.

Moreover, the Law established additional reporting requirements for charitable organizations to receive foreign funding. For example, they must annually publish a report in the mass media on the usage of funds received from international organizations, foreigners, and stateless persons for the purpose of charity. The Law also established a reporting requirement for the branches and representative offices of foreign charitable organizations, which must annually publish an activity report in the mass media, including the information on founders (participants), the structure of property, sources of income, and direction of spending the money in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The Tax Code contains a definition of “charitable aid” and provides some benefits for donors and beneficiaries. Charitable aid is defined as property provided on a gratuitous basis:
• in the form of sponsorship aid;
• to individuals for the purpose of rendering social support;
• to noncommercial organizations for the purpose of implementing their charter objectives;
• to organizations engaged in the social sphere for the purpose of implementing activities, specified in paragraph 2 of Article 290 of the Code (see below); or
• to organizations engaged in the social sphere for the purpose of implementing activities, specified in paragraph 3 of Article 290 of the Code.

Article 289(2) of the Tax Code provides that NCOs are exempt from taxation of income received “under contract for the implementation of state social contracting, in the form of … grants, entry and membership fees, … charitable and sponsorship aid, gratuitously transferred property, subsidies, and donations.” An NCO must account for such income separately from taxable income.

The Tax Code also defines a specific category of organizations, so-called “Social Sphere Organizations” (SSOs), which can be formed either as commercial or noncommercial organizations.

There are two categories of SSOs (Article 290):
• Organizations (regardless of legal form) deriving no less than 90% of their gross annual income from providing services or conducting activities in enumerated fields, which are basically limited to healthcare, childcare and education, science, sports, culture, library services, and social welfare of children, the elderly, and persons with disabilities; and

  • public associations of disabled people and organizations, established by public associations of disabled people meeting the following criteria:
    – at least 51% of the employees of the organization must qualify as having a disability; and
    – wages paid to the employees with disabilities must comprise no less than 51% of the organization’s overall payroll (this number is further reduced to 35% for specialized organizations employing hearing-, speech-, or vision-impaired workers).

SSOs are broadly exempt under Article 290 from corporate tax on income received on a gratuitous basis, passive (investment) income (except when taxed at the source under other rules), and income earned from entrepreneurial activities, provided that the SSO’s entire income is used for the performance of exempt activities.

For donations made to NCOs (including but not limited to SSOs), corporate donors can deduct the cost of the donated money and other property up to 4% of their taxable income. There are no tax incentives for individual donors.

Public Participation

The Constitution states that “Citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan have the right to participate in the management of state affairs directly and through their representatives, to apply personally, and also to send individual and collective appeals to state bodies and local self-government bodies” (Article 33).

Laws and legal measures relevant to public participation include but are not limited to the following:

  • Environmental Code;
  • Code on Public Health and the Health Care System;
  • Law on Access to Information;
  • Law on Procedure for Considering Applications of Individuals and Legal Entities;
  • Law on Public Councils;
  • Law on Public Services;
  • Law on Protection of Consumer Rights;
  • Law on Legal Acts;
  • Law on Local Government and Self-Government;
  • Presidential Decree on the Establishment of the Position of the Commissioner for Human Rights;
  • Presidential Decree on the Establishment of the Institution of the Commissioner for the Rights of the Child in the Republic of Kazakhstan;
  • Order of the Minister of Information and Communications No. 22 on approval of the rules for posting and public discussion of draft concepts of draft laws and draft laws and regulations on the Internet portal “Open legal acts”; and
  • Regulations of the Senate and Mazhilis.

Some of the several institutions that promote public participation include public councils under state bodies; meetings of the local community; consultative and advisory bodies under the President and the Government; the National Coordination Council for Health Protection and its regional coordination councils; the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs (“Atameken”); public monitoring commissions; and ombudsmen for human rights and children’s rights and business.

Examples of public participation mechanisms include public examination, public hearings, public monitoring of government bodies, citizen appeals, and access to information on the activities of state bodies.

Legislation governing public participation is available in open online sources and on websites of state bodies or registries of legal acts. The government routinely makes efforts to publicize online state services and online databases, thereby enhancing interactions between the state and its citizens. Civil society activists and other individuals actively engaged on issues of public concern are generally aware of relevant public participation mechanisms. For example, environmental organizations actively use the mechanisms provided for in the Environmental Code.

Barriers to Entry

The creation and operation of unregistered public associations is prohibited, and the members of illegal informal associations are subject to administrative and criminal liability.

At least 10 Kazakh citizens are required to form a public association.  Foreign citizens and stateless persons may not be founders of public associations, although they can be members of public associations (other than political parties) if this is specified in the charter of the association.  Citizens aged 16 or older may be members of youth public associations affiliated with political parties.  The age requirements for members of other youth and children’s public associations is specified by their charters or regulations (Article 11 of the PA Law).

All NCOs must be registered with the Ministry of Justice based on the Law on State Registration of Legal Entities and Record-Registration of Branches and Representative Offices. NCO applicants are required to pay a registration fee, which is determined by the Tax Code. Currently, the fee is approximately USD 45. For associations of youth or people with disabilities, the registration fee is reduced to USD 14.

Registration of NCOs is relatively straightforward and usually takes about 10 working days.  To register a public association, an application must be submitted within two months from the date of its formation, which must be accompanied by the charter, the minutes of the founding meeting that adopted the charter, information about the organization’s founders, documents confirming the status and legal address of the organization, and proof of payment of the appropriate registration fee.  In case of refusal to register a public association, or any other organization, the registration body must provide a written rejection that explains the reason for refusal.

The PA Law (Article 7) categorizes public associations by territorial status as local, regional, and national public associations.  Regional public associations must have branches in at least 2 oblasts of Kazakhstan, and national public associations must have branches in at least 8 oblasts, including the cities of Astana and Almaty.

Barriers to Operational Activity

As mentioned above, in accordance with Article 7 of the PA Law, public associations are categorized by territorial status. Though the Law does not explicitly restrict an organization’s activity to coincide with its territorial status, in practice, associations that do not so limit their activities are under threat of violating Article 489 of the Administrative Code, which penalizes any minor deviation from the charter objectives or any violation of Kazakh legislation. Since this Article’s sanctions are potentially serious (ranging from written notification to a 6-month suspension of activities), many public associations prefer to operate within the region where they are registered.

In addition, the Administrative Code, which came into effect on January 1, 2015, contains provisions that provide administrative penalties for leaders or members of a public association that carry out activities outside of the goals and tasks defined by its charter.

In December 2015, the government adopted a number of regulations, including the Rules for Providing Information by NCOs on their Activities and Formation of the NCO Database. The Rules imposed significant new information requirements on all NCOs, including the submission of sensitive data on employees. Due to successful advocacy efforts, the Rules were subsequently clarified and improved. On March 9, 2016, the Ministry of Culture and Sports (MCS) released a new version of the Rules, but the original reporting deadline for submission of sensitive data (March 31, 2016) did not change. At least 1,800 reports were received before the March 31 deadline. While not all NCOs submitted data as required, non-compliant NCOs were not penalized. In 2021 5 856 NCOs submitted their reports to NCO Database.

Barriers to Speech/Advocacy

There is no legal barrier limiting the ability of NCOs to engage in advocacy or public policy activities.  All forms of public associations may participate in advocacy and lobbying activities. According to Article 19 of the PA Law, public associations have the right to engage in the following activities in order to achieve their statutory goals, subject to compliance with applicable laws:

  • disseminate information about their activities;
  • represent and protect the rights and lawful interests of their members in courts and other state bodies;
  • establish mass media outlets;
  • hold meetings, protests, demonstrations, marches, and pickets;
  • perform publishing activities;
  • join international non-commercial non-governmental associations; and
  • exercise other powers, not contrary to the legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

According to the Law on Elections, public associations can actively participate in organizing and conducting elections, as well as become observers of elections for compliance with the legislation.  Religious associations and international NGOs are expressly prohibited from using their assets to support political parties, movements, and campaigns.

Barriers to International Contact

There are no significant legal barriers to international communication and contact.

Barriers to Resources

  • Foreign Funding

There have not historically been legal barriers to foreign funding that apply to NCOs. However, a new Law on Payments was passed on July 26, 2016 that introduces new requirements for organizations and individuals to report on the receipt and expenditure of foreign funds or assets. The new law also includes a requirement to label all publications produced with support from foreign funds as funded from foreign sources, as well as administrative penalties for non-compliance with these new requirements.

  • Domestic Funding

An NCO may engage in entrepreneurial activities to the extent that it corresponds with its statutory goals.  Income from the entrepreneurial activities of NCOs may not be distributed among members or participants of NCOs (Article 33 of the NCO Law). Except in the case of SSOs, income from entrepreneurial activity is subject to taxation in the same manner as for a commercial organization.

Barriers to Assembly

In accordance with the Constitution, citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan have the right to assemble peacefully and without weapons and to hold meetings, demonstrations, marches, and pickets. This right can be restricted in the interests of national security, public order, and protection of the health, rights, and freedoms of other people (Article 32 of the Constitution). Assemblies are regulated by the Law on the Procedure of Organization and Conducting Peaceful Assemblies in the Republic of Kazakhstan (the Law), which was adopted on May 25, 2020. Activities such as conducting demonstrations, movements, rallies, meetings, and pickets are viewed as a form of assembly covered by the Law. Spontaneous actions conducted without obtaining a permit from a local executive body are not permitted and must be terminated upon the local executive body’s demand. The Law proposes two procedures for organizing peaceful assemblies: 1) notification for pickets, rallies and meetings; and 2) coordination for demonstrations and movements.

Peaceful assemblies (except for pickets) can be organized only in “specialized” places identified by local representative bodies. Pickets can be conducted in any “non-forbidden” place; however they can include only one person and cannot last more than two hours a day. In order to conduct a picket, rally, or meeting, a notification must be filed with the local authorities no later than five days prior to the scheduled date. To hold a demonstration or movement, the organizer must submit an application for coordination (permit) to the local authorities no later than 10 days prior to the scheduled date. Only citizens of Kazakhstan older than 18 years and local legal entities can organize and participate in peaceful assemblies. The application must include extensive list of information comprised of 13 items, including the goal, form, name of the organizer, specialized place for conducting the assembly, beginning and ending times, approximate number of participants, information on the establishment of structures, and source of funding. The local executive body must issue its decision within three days for notification and within seven days for coordination. In case of notification, the absence of an answer from local authorities within three days can be considered as consent for conducting an assembly. Local authorities have the right to refuse consent for an assembly or propose alternative place or route. The Law contains ten reasons for refusal, including several insignificant technical reasons, such as submission of incomplete or inaccurate information, and violation of terms for submission notification or application for coordination.

Overall, both the procedures of notification and coordination represent a pre-approval procedure for peaceful assemblies, as local authorities have the right to refuse authorization for assemblies or propose an alternative place or route for the assembly. In both cases, organizers must wait for response from local authorities before holding an assembly. Regardless of the terms “notification” or “coordination,” the law requires the de facto mandatory approval of all assemblies by the local authorities.

The Law states that “the right to freedom of peaceful assembly may not be restricted, with the exception of cases established by this Law in the interests of state security, public order, health, protection of the rights and freedoms of others” (Para 2, Article 2). It also states that “upon introduction of a state of emergency, martial law, or the legal regime of an anti-terrorist operation for the period of their operation, peaceful assemblies may be prohibited or limited in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Kazakhstan ‘On the state of emergency,’ ‘On the state of war,’ and “‘On countering terrorism’” (Para 4, Article 2).

Assembly organizers have multiple responsibilities under the Law. Some of these are burdensome to implement and broadly defined, such as “require participants in peaceful assemblies to observe public order and the rules for their conduct, as well as to prevent violation of the legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan” or “create conditions for the safety of participants in peaceful assemblies during their conduct, ensure the safety of buildings, structures, small architectural forms, green spaces, as well as other property.” Organizers are also required to conduct the assembly in accordance with the aims specified in the application, within the specified periods, in the specified place, and to keep public order. Violations can lead to a fine of up to seventy times the monthly rated index or administrative arrest up to 25 days, for legal entities – up to 150 times the monthly rated index [1] (Article 488 of the Code on Administrative Offenses).

Lastly, on March 28, 2020, the State Commission approved a decision to strengthen the quarantine regime in the cities of Nur-Sultan and Almaty. Citizens were restricted from leaving home, with the exception of leaving for food, medicine, and employment. The order closed crowded places, including parks, squares, pedestrian streets, promenades, and playgrounds. Meetings on the streets and in other public places by groups of more than three people (with the exception of family members) were prohibited. Less than two weeks before this decision, a State of Emergency decree was declared for thirty days on account of the coronavirus pandemic. It suspended public events, closed the border, and introduced quarantine measures with the participation of relevant military departments.

[1] The monthly rated index is an indicator used in Kazakhstan for calculating pensions, grants, and other social payments and for the application of penalties and calculation of taxes and other payments. The index grows slightly every year, and in 2021it is equal to 2,917 Kazakhstani tenge, which is approximately $7.

UN Universal Periodic Review Reports Seventh session Geneva,12 February 2010
Reports of UN Special Rapporteurs

Kazakhstan

U.S. State Department Background Note: Kazakhstan
Failed States Index Reports Foreign Policy Fragile States Index
IMF Country Reports Kazakhstan and the IMF
International Center for Not-for-Profit Law Library Kazakhstan

While we aim to maintain information that is as current as possible, we realize that situations can rapidly change. If you are aware of any additional information or inaccuracies on this page, please keep us informed; write to ICNL at ngomonitor@icnl.org.

General News

Issues of legal regulation of non-profit organizations were discussed by Kazakh and international NGOs (September 2021) (Russian)
On September 24, 2021, in Nur-Sultan, the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative5 (ABA ROLI), together with the Ministry of Information and Social Development, organized a roundtable “Conceptual issues of legal regulation of non-profit organizations.” The roundtable discussed the consultative document of regulatory policy on improving non-profit organizations’ legislation. Currently, the draft law has been included in the Conceptual Plan of Legislative Work until 2026. The law is planned to be adopted in the first half of 2023.

Non-profit organizations legislation will be improved (June 2021) (Russian)
As part of the execution of the Presidential Decree “on further measures of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the field of human rights” and in order to increase the efficiency of interaction with NGOs, a Working Group will develop a concept of the draft law “on non-profit organizations.”

Kazakhstan will have a new law on volunteering and charity (March 2021) (Russian)
During the pandemic, the volunteer movement intensified in Kazakhstan. The Ministry of Information and Social Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan developed the concept of the draft law “On amendments and additions to some legislative acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on volunteering, charity, state social order and grants for non-governmental organizations.” The bill is aimed at improving certain legislative acts of the republic and will lead to a more effective regulation of public relations in the field of volunteering, charity, state social order and grants for non-governmental organizations.

New Draft Law on Public Control Discussed in Almaty (January 2021) (Russian)
On January 23, 2021 Minister of MIPD Aida Balayeva met with CSOs in Almaty to discuss the draft Law on Public Control.

Kazakh human rights and media public organizations face unjustified and disproportionate fines and suspension of activities (January 2021)
The fines and suspension of the NGO activities contradict the priorities of the development of civil society announced by the state and damage international reputation of Kazakhstan. Echo and International Legal Initiative organizations have been fined 400 MCI (1,166,800 KZT) each and their activities have been suspended for 3 months. Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law was fined 800 MCI (2,333,600 KZT) with a suspension of activities for 3 months. Another organization Erkindik Qanaty was fined 100 MCI (277 800 KZT). Thus, the total amount of fines for only 4 non-governmental organizations amounted to almost 5 million tenge. In the near future, this amount for all organizations can reach tens of millions tenge.

Public control will be regulated by law – Balayeva (September 2020)
Minister of Information and Public Development of Kazakhstan, Aida Balayeva addressed the meeting of the Presidential youth candidate pool members. “For the effective implementation of the President’s state of the nation Address, the state and society must act together. The most important are the first steps: communicating the main aspects of the Address to the public and clearly planning measures for its fulfillment. In 10 days, a large number of meetings, round tables and conferences on the Address were held throughout the country. More than 5 000 articles were published in the media, “Aida Balayeva told the meeting.

President signs off on contentious rally law (May 2020)
The law arrived on President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s table last week following some light legislative ping-pong in the parliament and became statute after it was signed on May 25. Among the most trumpeted provisions of the new rules is one ostensibly requiring organizers of a rally to provide only advance warning of their intentions, rather than requesting permission.

Amendments on issues of AML/CFT were introduced to the Majilis (September 2019) (Russian)
Today in the Majilis, the Ministry of Finance presented to the deputies the draft law “On Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on the Issues of Combating  Laundering of Criminally Obtained Incomes and the Financing of Terrorism. Vice-Minister Kanat Baedilov noted that Kazakhstan, like other countries, must combat the laundering of proceeds from crime, the financing of terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Draft law on charity and donorship developed by the Ministry of Social Development (November 2018) (Russian)
The Ministry of Public Development on the instruction of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan is developing a draft law on charity and donorship. This was announced by the Minister of Public Development Darkhan Kaletayev during the VIIIth Civil Forum of Kazakhstan, which is being held in Astana.

Ministry of Social Development established in Kazakhstan (June 2018)
Head of State Nursultan Nazarbayev signed the Law on measures for the further enhancement of the public administration system of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the press service of Akorda reports. In paragraph 1 the line “The Ministry of Religious Affairs and Civil Society of the Republic of Kazakhstan;” shall be reworded as follows: “The Ministry of Social Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan;”.

Government approves the draft of the new Tax Code (January 2018)
On December 25, 2017, Kazakhstan adopted a new Tax Code (the New Tax Code) and certain tax-related amendments to a number of laws (the Tax Amendments). Most provisions of the New Tax Code and the Tax Amendments took effect on January 1, 2018.

Government approves the draft of the new Tax Code (September 2017)
Minister of National Economy Timur Suleimenov reported that under the new Tax Code the thinking on taxation has been changed, which will be aimed at protecting good faith taxpayers, stimulating different sectors of the economy and simplifying administration processes. According to the new Code all uncertainties and inaccuracies will be interpreted in favor of taxpayers.

Kazakhstan develops new rules for issuing grants to NGOs (July 2017)
Within the framework of implementing the fourth direction “Identity and Unity” of the Plan of the Nation “100 concrete steps”, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Civil Society is working to improve the legislation regulating the activities of non-governmental organizations. In order to implement the 87 step, in 2016 a bill “On Amendments to Legislative Acts Regarding Activities of Non-Profit Organizations” was developed. It provides for the norms of mandatory participation of citizens in the formation and evaluation of state social orders.

Code of Ethics for Kazakhstan NGOs to be adopted soon (December 2016)
The Civil Alliance of Kazakhstan is working on creation of the Code of Ethics for non-governmental organizations (NGO), according to President of the Alliance Nurlan Yerimbetov who spoke in the press conference today, Kazinform” reports. “If we adopt it [the Code of Ethics], it will be a mandatory requirement for all NGO to comply with it. This document should consider all the aspects of our sphere. It should help avoid any provocative issues. We want everyone to learn how to behave in the right way”, – Nurlan Yerimbetov said.

Why Kazakhstan created the Ministry for Religious and Civil Society Affairs (November 2016)
It is an unfortunate reality that extremism and terrorism have become global threats affecting all corners of the world. There has been a fivefold increase in deaths from terrorism since September 11, 2001, with religious extremism overtaking national separatism as the main driver of attacks. It is why stamping out religious extremism has to be at the top of the global agenda. But the threat from this warped ideology has not stopped within Iraq’s and Syria’s borders. Countries as far flung and different as the United States, Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Afghanistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Mali, Nigeria, along with many others, have been hit by radical Islamist extremists in the last year. Kazakhstan sadly also joined this list when extremists struck in Aktobe in June. It is for these reasons, as well as for the need to further develop our civil society as a key partner and ensure youth is properly included in our country’s progress, that Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev has established the Ministry for Religious and Civil Society Affairs.

Kazakhstan introduces tax control over foreign funding (August 2016)
From now on, NGOs that received foreign funding will have to provide complete tax reports. Otherwise they will have to pay an administrative fine. In general, nearly 14,500 non-governmental organizations are registered in the country. Some of them receive funds for legal protection, public opinion study, collection and distribution of information from abroad. This category is subject to mandatory requirement. All the information will be placed on the website of the State Revenue Committee is in open access.

CSO Database Formation (March 2016) (Russian)
During the execution of the “National Plan,” a hundred concrete steps for the implementation of the five institutional reforms have been featured in the legislation regulating the activities of non-governmental organizations in Kazakhstan. To enhance the transparency and accessibility of information to the public on the activities of non-governmental organizations, an NGO Database has begun to form in 2016, which will become a public information resource.

CSO Activists Petition against New Legislation (October 2015) (Russian)
A group of CSO activists expressed their significant concern over the implications of new CSO legislation adopted by Parliament in September 2015. Among their concerns include the potential monopolization of grant funding by a single non-commercial “Operator,” and the reduction of CSOs’ sphere of activity. The same group of CSOs signed a petition addressing President Nazarbayev, arguing that he should veto the legislation on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.

Opinion on the Draft Law on Access to Information (May 2015)
In April 2015, the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan requested the OSCE to provide legal expertise on the draft Law on Access to Information. OSCE/ODIHR has issued Opinions on previous drafts of this legislation in 2010 and in 2012. In its latest Opinion, ODIHR notes that the new draft law constitutes an improvement to earlier draft versions and incorporates a number of ODIHR’s previous recommendations. At the same time, there is a need to ensure that no information is categorically excluded from being accessed, and that at the same time, all necessary grounds for limitation of access to information are included.

UN Special Rapporteur urges Kazakhstan to boost right of peaceful assembly (January 2015)
Returning from an official visit to Kazakhstan, Maina Kiai, the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, said that the Kazakh Government had developed a tendency to focus on restrictions rather than human rights themselves, adding that this had resulted in a situation where rights were treated as privileges to be granted at the discretion of State authorities. Among the more pressing rights issues facing the country, Mr. Kiai pointed out that the Government’s regulation of peaceful assemblies had become increasingly becoming problematic as all peaceful assemblies now required the go-ahead from local authorities and, even then, were limited to specific, government-designated sites.

“Kazakh CSOs Should Not be Sponsored by Foreign Donors” (September 2014) (Russian)
On September 16, 2014, the head of the organization called Civil Alliance, Mr. Nurlan Yerimbetov, proposed the adoption of new mechanisms for controlling CSO funding, including grants and awards. He emphasized the need to eliminate foreign funding to Kazakh CSOs.

CSOs Hold Press Conference on Draft Law (February 2014)

Religious institutions have to report for foreign money (November 2012)

Kazakhstan Elected Member of UN Human Rights Council (November 2012)