Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

Kazakhstan: Criminal Trial of Labor Lawyer

Posted by Info on 09/08/2011

The prosecution of a labor union lawyer Natalia Sokolova on criminal charges of “inciting social discord” is incompatible with international human rights law.

The indictment accuses Sokolova of aiming to “social discord” by speaking before the collective [of workers] about the disproportionality in wages… [and by]calling on workers to stage unsanctioned protests, carrying out these activities publicly and using the media.” She was also charged with organizing illegal gatherings under article 334-2 of Kazakhstan’s criminal code.

The prosecutor asked the court to sentence Sokolova to seven years in prison and to forbid her from practicing law for three years. Sokolova has denied all criminal charges.

Kazakhstan is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly, including trade union membership and activities. It is also a member of the International Labor Organization, whose fundamental principles, including the right to organize, are binding on all members.

Under the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, the Kazakh government has a duty to ensure that lawyers can carry out their work without intimidation, hindrance, or harassment and is required to ensure that they are not subject to prosecution or administrative, economic, or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized professional duties, standards, and ethics.

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