Alexandria, VA - October 13, 2011 - Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev today signed into law two restrictive and oppressive religion laws that threaten fundamental freedoms and places religious minorities at significant risk in the country.
"THE INSTITUTE on Religion and Public Policy is saddened by yet another example of democratic rollback in Kazakhstan," commented THE INSTITUTE's Founder and Chairman, Joseph K. Grieboski. "Twice previously, President Nazarbayev wisely sent similarly dangerous draft laws to the Constitutional Council for review before signing. With his pen on paper today, President Nazarbayev moved Kazakhstan further toward the status of a pariah and dictatorial state, not the democracy it could have been."
In THE INSTITUTE's expert analysis and opinion, the legislation contravenes Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and United Nations (UN) standards as they clearly discriminate against minority religious groups.
Now signed, the Religion Law will:
* Require compulsory registration as a religious organization;
* "De-register" all religious organizations currently registered and force these organizations to "re-register";
* Require all religious organizations to submit to a "religious study examination" where religious Scriptures and other documents are reviewed and impermissibly evaluated by the State;
* Ban all religious activity by unregistered religious organizations;
* Prohibit an unregistered religious organization to obtain any other legal entity status;
* Impose compulsory government censorship of religious literature by requiring evaluation and approval of religious literature before it could be shipped into the country for non-personal use or placed in a library;
* Restrict distribution of religious literature to religious buildings, religious educational institutions and "specifically identified stationary facilities identified
by local executive bodies";
* Require government approval to build or open new places of worship;
* Require registration of persons carrying out missionary activity -- no person may carry out missionary activity until so registered and no person will be registered unless they have been invited to perform missionary work by a registered religious organization;
* Require a minority religious community to meet onerous membership levels in order to register (minimum of 50 adult citizens) in complete contravention of United Nations and OSCE standards; and
* Impose restrictions and sanctions on religious leaders if children participate in activities of the religious organization when one parent or legal guardian
objects. The Religion Law and the Administrative Code Law are completely inconsistent with fundamental human rights. The recurring theme of the draft amendments is that they are structured in ways that would completely ban religious organizations or severely restrict religious activities; censor importation and restrict dissemination of religious literature; restrict foreign missionary activity; restrict the construction of new places of worship; and impose sanctions on religious leaders and organizations, including the banning of religious organizations, in a manner impermissible under international standards.
THE INSTITUTE on Religion and Public Policy
500 N Washington Street
Alexandria, VA 22314