International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) is concerned that the Kazakhstani NGO Ar.Rukh.Khak has been subjected to pressure in relation to its efforts to document human rights violations committed in connection with the mass protests and unrest, which took place in Kazakhstan in January 2022, and to support and assist activists in this context. The organisation’s lawyer Shalipa Bekkulova has been targeted as part of a criminal investigation into the January 2022 events in the city of Shymkent, carried out by officials from the National Security Committee, because of her communication with activists in her professional capacity. Officials from this agency have interrogated her about her contacts with activists, copied her telephone contacts and messages, and searched her home, thereby also examining legal case material belonging to her husband, practicing lawyer Galym Nurpeisov, in violation of the principle of lawyer-client confidentiality. Bekkulova has been summoned for new interrogations in Shymkent on 3-5 May 2022.
IPHR has sent an open letter on these issues to Kazakhstan’s Human Rights Commissioner and General Prosecutor, requesting them to help ensure that the reported incidents of harassment are promptly, thoroughly and impartially investigated and that any officials responsible for violating their professional obligations are held accountable. We also call on the authorities to ensure that Ar.Rukh.Khak and its staff members, as well as other human rights groups, defenders and lawyers are able to carry out their work without intimidation and hindrance, in particular with respect to documenting human rights violations committed in connection with the January 2022 events and to providing assistance to victims of such violations.