Kazakhstan Makes Tougher Punishments for Law Enforcement Officials

In cases of abuse, prosecutors and investigators might be put behind bars for 10 years

President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev signed into law an edict on harsher punishments for law enforcement officials who provoke someone to commit a crime. 

The new 412-1 article that was recently added to the Criminal Code of Kazakhstan will punish any law enforcement officials with 10 years in prison if they suborn, advise or confuse someone to commit a crime.

Usually, officials commit such crimes to improve their work statistics. The law enforcement system in Kazakhstan assesses their officials’ work by several criteria: was a criminal case opened or not, did the case enter a court or not, and was the defendant sentenced or not. 

According to Renat Nainbayev, founder and managing lawyer in NS Law Firm, it was almost impossible to charge law enforcement officials for provocation before the latest amendments were made. Earlier, due to the absence of specific rules, unscrupulous police officers might face charges for the illegal opening of a criminal case, power abuse and evidence falsification only. However, none of them fit the ‘provocation’ term.

«I have heard many times from my colleagues that police officers used to give someone a hint to pay them for closing a criminal case. If the defendant did say ‘yes,’ he was accused of bribery. In this case, it’s super hard to prove provocation by officers while the defendant who gave that bribe is accused of one more crime. Therefore, the new rule that was added to the Criminal Code gives the innocent a chance to avoid sentencing if he or she became a victim of provocation,» the expert said.

According to the General Prosecutor’s Office, in 2019 and the first eight months of 2020, there were eight pretrial investigations on power abuse, evidence falsification and bribery provocation cases. Only two of them entered into the court with the real sentence in just one case.

New amendments to the law are aimed to guard the constitutional rights of the people, said Anar Zharova, adviser for the head of the Anticorruption Agency. She believes the new rule will be a strong barrier against abuse of power by law enforcement officials. 

«Moreover, this step will require police officers to be more professional and pursue high standards during the investigation. At the same time, it poses no hurdles for those who properly do their work and investigation,» she said.

The new law «On amendments to several legislative acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan on anti-corruption issues» also prohibits giving officials any gifts no matter what cost. (Earlier it was legal to give away gifts that are cost less than $64.93) This rule is also obligatory for officials’ family members.

Among other key amendments of the law are the creation of the anti-corruption compliance services in quasi-state and private sectors; adding national companies staff that is responsible for project procurement and financing to the number of corruption sensitive officials. Also, close relatives can no longer work in the same state agency.

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