Kazakhstan introduces new rules to strengthen the position of members of the Constitutional Court. According to new rules, the court’s judges can’t be detained or punished as long as they are in office. Moreover, no judge can be prosecuted until the parliament gives its consent. The only exception is the situation of a judge would being caught red-handed. These and other rules are part of the new law on the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan, adopted by the Mazhilis today, on September 7.
According to Kanat Musin, minister of justice, who presented the draft law, the document has been developed to meet the president’s address announced on March 16 as well as new amendments to the constitution, adopted on June 8, 2022.
The draft law consists of three sections, ten chapters, and 68 articles. The first part of the document addresses the status of the Constitutional Court, its members and their rights; the second part regulates the court’s procedures.
“The Constitutional Court won’t be a part of the judicial power. The court will act as a body that guarantees the supremacy of the Constitution throughout the country. Constitutional Court members are going to play an important role in the public life and their status is going to be determined by the constitution,” Musin said.
The minister noted that the draft law regulates issues associated with the appointment and removal of the court’s judges and declares their independence and immunity.
Also, no member of the constitutional court can be subject to disciplinary actions. The government is going to guarantee protection for the court’s judges, members of their families and their property and the Ministry of Internal Affairs must take immediate action to do so if it receives a relevant request from a judge.
The chairman of the Constitutional Court will be provided the same level of benefits (housing, transportation, medical and recreational services) as the first vice minister; the court’s deputy chairman will be equal to the vice minister and a regular judge is going to be equal to the minister. All members of the Constitutional Court will have 30 days of vacation with additional payments for improving their health.
Those judges who have to move to the capital city of Nur-Sultan from other cities will be given compensation for the move. Their expenses for housing will be covered by the government unless they have their own property in the city. The authorities must find new housing for them within six months of moving to Nur-Sultan.
Musin also noted that the draft law suggests introducing a mechanism of removal of the Constitutional Court judges from office similar to the law on the national judicial system.
The Constitutional Court is responsible for supervising elections. It also makes sure that any national law as well as international agreements signed by the country properly correlate with the constitution. The court is the only public body in Kazakhstan that can interpret provisions of the constitution.
“All the current functions of the Constitutional Council have been given to the Constitutional Court. According to new amendments, the court will be the body citizens can appeal to in order to protect their rights and freedom. The Prosecutor General and human rights ombudsman can also directly appeal to the court,” the minister of justice said.
According to Musin, any citizen can appeal to the Constitutional Court when a specific law or piece of legislation affects the rights and freedom of that person. They also can ask the court for help when believing that any judicial decision made against them is wrong. On March 16, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev suggested establishing the Constitutional Court and putting the Prosecutor General and human rights ombudsman in a position to appeal to the court. The president said that the court must be the only body to interpret the Constitution and that people must have the right to directly appeal to the court. The Constitution Court is not something completely new for Kazakhstan. It was in place over the period from 1992 to 1995.