Kurmetti khanymdar men myrzalar,
I am delighted to be here today at the presentation of the National Human Rights Report 2012 and the Report on the Rights of Migrants in Kazakhstan. Many thanks to all those involved in making today possible – and in particular to Chairman Kuanysh Sultanov and Secretary Abishev of the Human Rights Commission, and to Ambassador Zarudna of the OSCE and Ambassador Keserovic, of the International Organisation of Migration.
The British Government is delighted to continue our cooperation with the National Human Rights Commission, which started in 2007. The UK sees Kazakhstan as one of perhaps 20 or so “Emerging Powers” in the world, with whom we seek a deeper relationship on a strategic level. That includes cooperation over the social development of this country and the strengthening of its structures – of which good governance and human rights are crucial parts. We therefore much welcome the adoption of legislation on the National Preventive Mechanism. This is a tangible indication of the Kazakh Government’s commitment to improve the treatment of those in closed institutions.
Two years ago my predecessor spoke of our hopes and our concerns for Kazakhstan’s new legislation on Religion. We appreciate Kazakhstan’s efforts towards encouraging harmony and religious accord in the Eurasian region and beyond. We also appreciate the challenges faced by Kazakhstan and by the rest of us as 21st century technology, the ease of world-wide migration, and sources of conflict. They all come together to pose difficult questions to policy makers in all countries. My Government remains convinced that the answers always lie in encouraging and supporting the fullest possible respect for the Freedom of Religion and Belief. I’m delighted that my Government has, this year, launched a project in collaboration with others including the Agency for Religious Affairs, state prosecutors and youth groups in order to help raise awareness of standards in this area. We therefore urge the Government of Kazakhstan to use the opportunity provided by Kazakhstan’s Universal Periodic Review at the Human Rights Council in 2014 in order to develop further the work already underway to address existing challenges.
One of those challenges, worldwide, is the role of Business in respecting individual rights. The UK recently published its own action plan on Business and Human Rights. We believe that responsible action by the private sector on human rights is good for business and good for people – and good for Governments too, who after all exist to serve the people. We would be delighted to work with our partners in Kazakhstan (and indeed with all other countries) so that together we can encourage the private sector to play its part. The stronger the safeguards in society for human rights, the more likely that sustainable economic development, benefiting all sectors of society, can be achieved.
See here photos from Kazakhstan’s Human Rights Report 2012 Launch