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Human Rights

New Decree on Human Rights in Kazakhstan.

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President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev has signed a decree “On further measures of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the field of human rights”, which instructs the government to approve the Kazakh government’s action plan setting out “Priority Measures in the Field of Human Rights”.

Protection of human rights has been a priority for President Tokayev since his election as Head of State in June 2019.

He highlighted specific plans for government actions aimed at addressing human rights issues through legislation during a second meeting of the National Council of Public Trust in December 2019, and also spoke about human rights issues during his annual State-of-the-Nation Address in September 2020.

In particular, he instructed the government to take comprehensive measures to protect citizens, especially children, from cyberbullying, combat human trafficking and torture.

In February 2021, the President proposed a new package of measures aimed at enhancing human rights protection for convicted persons, as well as strengthening legal mechanisms for the protection of the rights of women.

The new decree is in line with the concept of a “listening state”, put forward by President Tokayev.

It envisages a government that listens to the comments and criticisms of the society. As part of this concept, the government is implementing substantial political reforms that cover three broad areas – democratisation of the country’s political system, more power to the people, and strengthened human rights.

The new decree covers the areas of:

•            Improving the mechanisms of interaction with the UN treaty bodies and special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council;

•            Ensuring the rights of victims of human trafficking;

•            Human rights of citizens with disabilities;

•            The elimination of discrimination against women;

•            The right to freedom of association;

•            The right to freedom of expression;

•            The human right to life and public order;

•            Increasing the efficiency of interaction with non-governmental organisations;

•            Human rights in criminal justice and enforcement, and prevention of torture and ill-treatment.

The adoption of the decree further formalises human rights as one of the basic priorities of state policy. The implementation of its provisions will further promote the protection of human rights in Kazakhstan and contribute towards building a just and progressive state.

Speaking to the Astana Times,  Erlan Karin, aide to the Kazakh President, reflected on previous human rights reforms initiated by Tokayev, including the abolition of the death penalty in late 2019. Karin pointed out a consistent focus on the importance of regulations against cyberbullying, human trafficking, torture, staff misconduct in penitentiary institutions and gender discrimination in Tokayev’s state-of-the-nation addresses and meetings with the National Council of Public Trust.

“The significance of this decree lies in the fact that with its ratification, the human rights theme is finally incorporated as one of the basic priorities of state policy. The implementation of all the provisions enshrined in today’s decree will foster a comprehensive modernization of the human rights sphere and will become our next step towards building a just and progressive state,” said Karin.

President of the Charter for Human Rights Public Fund Zhemis Turmagambetova stated that the relevance of the human rights issue and that the decree presents an opportunity to transform the issue from an abstract problem into a practical matter with efficient solutions.

“It is the government’s turn to develop plans for the implementation of the decree. It must clearly follow the principles of a responsive government. This process should take place in a constructive partnership between government agencies and civil society, national and international experts and scientists. Civil society has something to contribute to the matter,” said Turmagambetova.

EU

Commissioner Johansson participates in two events addressing trafficking in human beings

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Today (6 May), Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson (pictured) is participating in two events addressing trafficking in human beings. In the morning, the commissioner will deliver a keynote speech at an event on ‘Trafficking in the Digital Era' organized by the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the Baltic Sea States. The conference will address the digital dimension of trafficking and provide insight into safe paths to recovery and justice for children. Speakers include Agnė Bilotaitė, Minister of Interior of Lithuania, Petya Nestorova, Executive Secretary of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, and Cathal Delaney, Head of Team Analysis Project Twins at Europol. The conference will also feature a youth panel sharing their perspectives throughout the day. The event takes place online and you can register here.

In the afternoon, Commissioner Johansson will participate in the virtual meeting of the EU Network of National Rapporteurs and Equivalent Mechanisms and the EU Civil Society Platform against Trafficking in Human Beings to discuss the recently adopted EU Strategy on combatting Trafficking in Human Beings which focuses on preventing the crime, bringing traffickers to justice and protecting and empowering victims. Taking into account the complex nature of the crime and the need for cross-border cooperation, the meeting will be an occasion for experts to discuss how the Commission, EU member states and civil society organizations can further cooperate to maximize the impact of actions foreseen in the Strategy. Speakers include Secretary of State for Citizenship and Gender Equality for the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the EU Rosa Monteiro and acting EU Anti-trafficking Coordinator Olivier Onidi.

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European Commission

Fighting trafficking in human beings: New strategy to prevent trafficking, break criminal business models, protect and empower victims

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The Commission has presented a new Strategy on Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings (2021-2025), focusing on preventing the crime, bringing traffickers to justice and protecting and empowering victims. Between 2017 and 2018, there were more than 14,000 registered victims within the European Union. Globally, traffickers make estimated profits of €29.4 billion in a single year. With demand for exploitation expected to continue, traffickers moving their acts online and the pandemic likely to create the conditions for increased exploitation, today's strategy sets out the measures that will allow the EU and its member states to continue strengthening their response.

Promoting our European Way of Life Vice President Margaritis Schinas said: "Fighting trafficking in human beings is part of our work towards building a Europe that protects. Traffickers prey on people's vulnerabilities. With today's Strategy, we are taking a three-pronged approach, using legislation, policy and operational support and funding in tandem to reduce demand, break criminal business, and empower victims of this abominable crime."

Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson said: "Trafficking in human beings is a crime that should have no place in our societies. Yet, criminals continue to traffic victims, mainly women and children, and mostly for sexual exploitation. We owe the victims protection, and we need to bring to justice the perpetrators who treat human beings as a commodity. We will look at the rules in place to check if they are still fit for purpose and we will assess the possibility of criminalising the use of exploited services from trafficking victims.”

The strategy builds on the EU's comprehensive legal and policy framework in place to address trafficking in human beings, rooted in the Anti-trafficking Directive. The Commission will continue to support member states in the implementation of the Directive and, if necessary, will propose revisions to make sure it is fit for purpose. The EU anti-trafficking coordinator will continue to play a key role in the implementation of this strategy.

In addition, the Strategy focuses on:

  • Reducing demand that fosters trafficking: The Commission will assess the possibility of establishing minimum EU rules criminalising the use of exploited services of trafficking victims and will organize - together with national authorities and civil society organiZations - a prevention campaign targeting high-risk sectors. The Commission will also consider strengthening Employers' Sanctions Directive and will propose legislation on corporate governance to clarify the responsibilities of companies and will provide guidance on due diligence to help prevent forced labour.
  • Breaking the business model of traffickers, online and offline: The Commission will conduct a dialogue with internet and technology companies to reduce the use of online platforms for the recruitment and exploitation of victims. The Commission will encourage systematic training of law enforcement and judicial practitioners on detecting and addressing trafficking in human beings.
  • Protecting, supporting and empowering the victims with a specific focus on women and children: The Strategy seeks to improve the early identification of victims and their referral for further assistance and protection, strengthen victim empowerment programmes and facilitate re-integration. The Commission will also fund gender-specific and child-sensitive training to help police, social workers, border guards or healthcare staff detect victims.
  • Promoting international cooperation: With half of the victims identified in the EU being non-EU citizens, cooperation with international partners is key to address trafficking. The EU will use a range of foreign policy instruments and operational cooperation to help combat trafficking in countries of origin and transit including through dedicated human rights and security dialogues, enhanced cooperation with the Council of Europe and regular and targeted communication, action and exchange of information with EU delegations in partner countries. The upcoming Action Plan against Migrant Smuggling will also help disrupt traffickers' business in moving victims for exploitation to Europe.

Background

Trafficking in human beings remains a serious threat in the EU despite progress achieved in the past years. Victims are mainly women and girls trafficked for sexual exploitation. The third report on the progress made in the fight against trafficking in human beings, published in October 2020, provides a factual overview on the progress made, presents patterns and challenges and key issues in addressing trafficking in human beings in the EU.

As trafficking in human beings is often perpetuated by organised crime groups, the Strategy on Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings is closely linked to the EU Strategy to Tackle Organized Crime also presented. Protecting society from organised crime, including tackling trafficking in human beings, is a priority under the EU Security Union Strategy.

The new Pact on Migration and Asylum also highlighted the importance of the early identification of potential non-EU victims of trafficking in human beings.

More information  

Communication on the EU Strategy on Combatting Trafficking in Human Beings 2021-2025 

MEMO: EU Strategy to tackle Organised Crime & EU Strategy on combatting Trafficking in Human Beings  

Factsheet: Fighting Trafficking in Human Beings

Press release: Fight against organized crime: New 5-year strategy for boosting cooperation across the EU and for better use of digital tools for investigations  

Third report on the progress made in the fight against trafficking in human beings 

EU Anti-Trafficking Website 

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Human Rights

New state department report says human-rights abuses abound worldwide

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Human rights abuses abounded across the globe in 2020, the US State Department concluded Tuesday (30 March) in its annual review of how the world's governments treat their people, reports VOA News.

“The trend lines on human rights continue to move in the wrong direction,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters.

"The US State Department should launch a Ministerial to Advance Human Rights worldwide, similar to the Ministerial to Advance Religious Freedom," said Prime Minister Salih Hudayar of the East Turkistan Government in Exile, the democratically elected official body representing East Turkistan and its people.  

State Department Report

"Strong and meaningful actions also need to be taken against governments violating human rights," Hudayar said.

Blinken cited numerous countries the U.S. considers offenders of basic human rights.

“In China, government authorities committed genocide against Uyghurs, who are predominantly Muslim, and crimes against humanity, including imprisonment, torture, enforced sterilization, and persecution against Uyghurs and members of other religious and ethnic minority groups,” Blinken said.

The report on China said Beijing “continued to imprison citizens for reasons related to politics and religion. Human rights organizations estimated tens of thousands of political prisoners remained incarcerated, most in prisons and some in administrative detention. The government did not grant international humanitarian organizations access to political prisoners."

“The U.S. can take meaningful action to end the genocide of Uyghurs by bringing East Turkistan to the agenda of the UN Security Council, prosecuting China's diplomats under US Code Section 1091, increasing tariffs, applying more sanctions, boycotting the Beijing 2022 Olympics, and recognizing East Turkistan as a Captive Nation,” said Hudayar.

Sky News on Concentration Camps

Leaked documents have revealed new details around the detention and ill-treatment of Uighur Muslims in China. video/Sky News

The BBC on Wednesday said it had relocated its China correspondent, John Sudworth, to Taiwan, a move that came after Chinese government attacks on both the reporter and the broadcaster over coverage of the Uyghurs in the country's [East Turkistan] Xinjiang region, reports Business Insider.

The BBC did not give a specific reason for Sudworth's relocation but said: "John's work has exposed truths that Chinese authorities did not want the world to know."

Salih Hudayar is the Prime Minister of the East Turkistan Government in Exile, the democratically elected official body representing East Turkistan (renamed Xinjiang) and its people.

Click here for more information

As victims of genocide, the East Turkistan Government in Exile stands in solidarity with the victims of anti-Asian hate and supports the initiatives of the Biden Administration to combat violence, xenophobia, and bias. 

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