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KAZAKHSTAN: ARBITRARY DETENTION OF JOURNALIST ZHANBOLAT MAMAI

The International League Against Arbitrary Detention urges the Government of Kazakhstan to take all the necessary actions to implement the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention Opinion No. 11/2023 concerning Zhanbolat Mamai starting for the Government of Kazakhstan to accord him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations in accordance with international law.


Read the full WGAD Opinion concerning Zhanbolat Mamai : Opinion No. 11/2023


ARRESTED WITHOUT A WARRANT FOR ITS ROLE AS A CIVIL ACTIVIST


M. Zhanbolat Mamai, born on 15 June 1988, is a Kazakh journalist coordinator of the Club of Kazakhstani Journalists, leader of the unregistered Democratic Party and editor-in-chief of the newspaper Tribune. 


M. Mamai had been arrested several times since 2011 after organizing peaceful demonstrations and was  most recently arrested on 25 February 2022, when the Police took him, his wife and a colleague away, without providing any warrant nor other decision by a public authority, contrary to articles 3 and 9 of the Universal Declaration and article 9 (1) of the Covenant. The Working Group therefore concluded that the detention of M. Mamai was arbitrary falling under category I.


Moreover, the Working Group found that the basis for the arrest and detention of Mr. Mamai was the exercise of his right to freedom of expression and of association. In particular, he was convicted to 15 days of administrative detention after the authorities, having monitored his social media page, found out that he had organized a rally but failed to get authorization for it. The Government agreed that the rally was peaceful but then he was criminally charged for allegedly insulting public officials during that same public demonstration. The Working Group noted that the Government has failed to explain how the criminal persecution of Mr. Mamai complies with international standards on freedom of opinion and expression and freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. The Working Group also recalled that the Human Rights Committee, in its concluding observations of 2016 on Kazakhstan, stated that it remained “concerned about laws and practices that violate freedom of opinion and expression" pointing out undue restrictions on the exercise of freedom of peaceful assembly, arrests and intimidation of civil activists.


Consequently, the Working Group found that Mr. Mamai’s deprivation of liberty is arbitrary, falling within category II, as it resulted from his exercise of the rights and freedoms guaranteed under articles 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 19 and 21 of the Covenant.


CONCLUSIONS OF THE UN WORKING GROUP AGAINST ARBITRARY DETENTION


In the light of the foregoing, the Working Group considered that the deprivation of liberty of Zhanbolat Mamai, being in contravention of articles 3, 9, 19 and 20 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and articles 9 (1), 19 and 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, was arbitrary and fell within categories I and II.


The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention recommended that the Government of Kazakhstan take the steps necessary to remedy the situation of Mr. Mamai without delay and bring it into conformity with the relevant international norms, starting with according him an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations.



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