Press release

Kazakhstan: Government Suspends Key Human Rights Organizations

The Kazakhstani government suspended several human rights organizations over their funding sources, escalating its ongoing campaign to curtail civil society.

In response to the suspension of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, International Legal Initiative, and Echo, Freedom House issued the following statement:

The Kazakhstani authorities deployed onerous regulations to suspend civic groups on absurd charges, effectively silencing critical voices advocating for respect for human rights,” said Marc Behrendt, director of Europe and Eurasia programs. “By doing so, the government continued restricting civic activity through the regulations adopted in 2015-18. This crackdown directly contradicts President Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev’s promises of political reform announced in 2019. We call on Kazakhstani authorities to cease persecution of human rights organizations immediately and engage in genuine, constructive dialogue with civil society in support of human rights in Kazakhstan.”


On January 15th, tax officials in the city of Almaty lodged a fine and a three-month suspension against election-monitoring group Echo over alleged financial irregularities. On January 25th, the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law and the International Legal Initiative also received three-month suspensions, and were fined $5,500 and $2,600 respectively. The rulings came after Kazakhstani tax officials issued warnings to over a dozen NGOs over foreign income declarations late last year, including the three suspended this month.

Kazakhstan is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2020 and Not Free in Freedom on the Net 2019.