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UN official ends visit to Kazakhstan stressing ratification of human rights treaties

UN official ends visit to Kazakhstan stressing ratification of human rights treaties

Winding up a weeklong visit to Kazakhstan, a top United Nations human rights official strongly urged the Government to ratify core international human rights treaties and called for the early adoption of a law on granting refugee status in the country.

The Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Bertrand Ramcharan, was in Kazakhstan as part of an official two-week visit to Central Asia. He held talks with a number of officials, including the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Secretary of State, Kasymzhomart Tokaev, and the Ombudsman, Bolat Baikadamov.

Mr. Tokaev told Mr. Ramcharan that the signature process for the two human rights instruments - the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and on economic, social and cultural Rights - is expected to be concluded in the very near future, and will be followed by ratification by the Parliament.

In his meeting with the Ombudsman, the Deputy High Commissioner noted the efforts of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and others to support the Ombudsman's office. Mr. Ramcharan suggested that the Ombudsman's office have a unit on the rights of women, a unit on child rights, and a unit on the rights of minorities. He also called for greater efforts to strengthen the Ombudsman's office and to give it greater independence.

When he met with judicial officials, Mr. Ramcharan suggested that activities be pursued to make judges, prosecutors and lawyers aware of international human rights norms and standards. He stressed that practices by law enforcement officials and prosecutors resulting in ill treatment of individuals required urgent attention. He noted that Kazakhstan has around 100 nationalities or ethnic groups and called for the wide dissemination, including in local languages, of UN and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) norms on the protection of minorities.