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Press-release of OSCE Center in Almaty

2 April 2002

The OSCE Centre in Almaty is deeply concerned about the fact that, in the early morning of 2 April, special police forces physically attacked a Member of Parliament. Senator Z. Battalova said that she was subjected to police harrassment when protesting against police actions taken against journalists reporting from the site of the French Embassy where a leading member of the opposition movement "Democratic Choice of Kazakhstan", Mr. G. Zhakianov, is currently staying.

The OSCE Centre regrets that political tensions seem to be escalating, following the detention of Mr. Mukhtar Ablyazov and that harsh legal measures and physical actions have been taken against several mass media and journalists.

The OSCE Centre reminds all sides of the present controversy that political issues should be dealt with in open, peaceful dialogue based on the principles of political pluralism, independence of the Parliament and the Judiciary, and human rights and fundamental freedoms as enshrined i.a. in the following

OSCE Documents (excerpts):

Copenhagen, 1990 (Preamble, par. 9 and 11)

[The participating States] recognize that pluralistic democracy [is] essential for ensuring respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms .... They therefore welcome the commitment expressed by all participating States to the ideals of democracy and political pluralism as well as their common determination to build democratic societies based on free elections and the rule of law.

The participating States express their conviction that…the development of societies based on pluralistic democracy and the rule of law are prerequisites for progress in setting up the lasting order of peace, security, justice and co-operation that they seek to establish in Europe…

Moscow, 1991 (Par. 18 and 18.1)

(18) The participating States…reaffirm that democracy is an inherent element in the rule of law and that pluralism is important in regard to political organizations.

Istanbul, 1999 (Charter for European Security, par. 14 and 19)

14. Peace and security in our region is best guaranteed by the willingness and ability of each participating State to uphold democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights…

19. We reaffirm that respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law is at the core of the OSCE's comprehensive concept of security...

26. We (The participating States) reaffirm the importance of independent media and free flow of information as well as the public access to information. We commit ourselves to take all necessary steps to ensure the basic conditions for free and independent media and unimpeded transborder and intra-State flow of information, which we consider to be an essential component of any democratic, free and open society.

In particular, the following is to be underlined:

The independence of the Parliament and of the Judiciary has to be respected.

Peaceful demonstrations by all citizens and their right to freely assemble must be respected and their security guaranteed by the responsible state organs.

The freedom of the media must be guaranteed, as freedom of information and expression is a necessary prerequisite for open and peaceful dialogue. Recent restrictions on independent media should therefore be reconsidered.

Pre-trial detention orders should only be issued in the most restrictive way, as prescribed by national and international law, avoiding any impression of selective application along political criteria.

Criminal procedures must be based on the principle of equality of all citizens before the law.

The OSCE Centre is confident that the authorities and the citizens of Kazakhstan will find peaceful solutions to the current situation on the basis of OSCE principles and commitments.

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