An official website of the European Union. See all European Institutions
Honourable Members of the Parliament,
Right Honourable Justice of the Supreme Court, and Justice courts representatives,
Dear Commissioner for Child Rights,
Distinguished guests, Dear implementing partners,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very honoured to welcome you today at the National Round table “Access to Justice for Vulnerable Groups in Places of Deprivation and Limitation of Liberty" with special focus on women’s and children’s rights.
The National Roundtable is organised under the European Union project "Empowering CSOs to improve access to justice for vulnerable groups in Kazakhstan", implemented by the Penal Reform International, in co-operation with the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Majilis of the Parliament, the Institute of the Child Rights Commissioner, the Commission of Human Rights, the OHCHR Regional Office for Central Asia and the Committee on Criminal executive system. It should be noted that this event is dedicated to the upcoming International Children’s Day on the 1st June.
Access to justice for vulnerable groups
Access to justice is fundamental to the protection of human rights as is evidenced in numerous human rights instruments. In securing justice as a basic human right, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrines the key principles of equality before the law, the presumption of innocence, the right to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, along with all the guarantees necessary for the defence of anyone charged with a penal offence.
The European Union emphasizes the right of equal access to justice for all, including members of vulnerable groups, and the importance of awareness-raising concerning legal rights. States should ensure the provision of legal aid to all persons regardless of age, race, colour, gender, language, religion or belief, political or other opinion, national or social origin or property, citizenship or domicile, birth, education or social status or other status.
The EU and human rights
The European Union plays a significant role in the human rights discourse and in supporting the implementation of human rights standards as part of its foreign relations. The “EU Guidelines for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of the Child” recalls international standards on the rights of the child and provides practical guidance to the EU institutions and EU Member States in order to strengthen their role in promoting and protecting the rights of all children in the EU external actions.
The European Union encourages and supports strengthening of partner countries’ own systems and strengthens cooperation with international and civil society organisations.
The EU in Kazakhstan
The Republic of Kazakhstan has achieved certain results in reforming its criminal executive system over the past years, not least with the support of the EU, its Member States and international partners. The process of humanization of the criminal justice system in Kazakhstan has been on-going since 2010, the new Criminal, Criminal-Procedural and Criminal-Executive Codes entered into force since 2015 and today we can see that Kazakhstan resolutely takes the path towards establishing a modern, fair, effective and humane criminal justice system.
Many international human rights standards were envisaged in the new codes, including the development of a probation service, establishment of a National Preventive Mechanism to prevent torture, provisions of support to vulnerable groups in detention and a ban on solitary confinement in prison for juveniles. The EU welcomes the positive changes that Kazakhstan has made in reforming the criminal justice system and promotion of human rights.
The EU project
Promoting independent judiciary, and enhancing social development, and inclusive growth in full respect of the environment, the EU supports PRI’s new project aimed at empowering civil society organisations to improve access to justice for vulnerable groups in Kazakhstan. The will deliver key services to vulnerable groups, including legal aid services to ensure the protection of the rights and interests of vulnerable prisoners.
The project focuses on building strong cooperation between judicial authorities and CSOs and strengthening coordination and networking between CSOs working in the criminal justice system
In this way, it is expected that the project will contribute to the implementation of the comprehensive criminal justice reform programme being implemented in Kazakhstan, which recognises the role played by the CSOs in achieving the reform goals, namely bringing them beyond the non-return point!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to thank all the organisers and participants of the national roundtable for their dedicated commitment and wish them all success in project implementation.
Thank you for your attention.