Kazakhstan sanctions international protocol to abolish death penalty

The Second Optional Protocol commits its signatories to ensure the abolition of capital punishment within their jurisdiction, only with the exception of wartime.

Created On: Jan 4, 2021 12:03 ISTModified On: Jan 4, 2021 12:03 IST
Kazakhstan abolishes death penalty

The President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev signed a law that sanctions the ‘Second Optional Protocol’ to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The protocol entails a formal commitment to abolishing the death penalty.

In late September 2020, Kairat Umarov, Kazakhstan’s permanent envoy to the United Nations had signed the Second Optional Protocol. The document then later went to the Parliament of Kazakhstan and was ratified by it on December 29, 2020.

The Second Optional Protocol commits its signatories to ensure the abolition of capital punishment within their jurisdiction, only with the exception of wartime.

Temporary suspension of the death penalty in Kazakhstan:

The first President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, in 2003 had signed a decree which temporarily suspended the death penalty in the country.

This decree suspended the execution of all the death penalties but it did not prohibit the courts from issuing death sentences in exceptional circumstances. In 2004, life imprisonment was introduced in Kazakhstan as an alternative punishment.

About the ‘Second Optional Protocol’:

In 1966, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was adopted and entered into force in 1976. At the time 176 countries acceded to it.

On December 15, 1989, the Second Optional Protocol was adopted to it which aimed at the abolition of capital punishment or the death penalty. The protocol came into force in 1991. 88 other nations, apart from Kazakhstan, are also members of the agreement.

The countries that sign the agreement take the following obligations:

Not to apply the death penalty

To take all the necessary measures for abolishing the death penalty within their jurisdiction

The only exception to execute the death penalty will be allowed in the case of wartime.

Background:

Untill 2021, Capital punishment in Kazakhstan had been abolished for ordinary crimes. However, it was permitted for the crimes that occurred in special circumstances (such as war). The legal method of execution in the country had been shooting, a single shot at the back of the head.

In 2003, then-President Nursultan Nazarbayev had introduced a moratorium on the death penalty and had later commuted the death sentences. In 2007, the government of Kazakhstan amended its constitution and abolished the death penalty for all the crimes except the terrorist activities that lead to the loss of human life as well as grave crimes that are committed during the war.

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