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Religious Freedom

Volume 705: debated on Wednesday 12 November 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What representations they have made to the Government of Kazakhstan about implementing the recommendations of the OSCE Advisory Council of Exports on Freedom of Religious Belief, in particular those recommendations relating to amendments to the current law before the Kazakhstan Senate. [HL5806]

We have made clear to the Kazakhstani authorities our concerns about the draft law, and our view that they should take on board the recommendations of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) experts. In April, our ambassador called on Ardak Doszhan, Head of the Committee on Religious Affairs under the Ministry of Justice, and raised our concerns about the law. In June, the French ambassador in his capacity as EU presidency demarched the Kazakhstani Ministry of Foreign Affairs. These concerns are also reflected in the EU's statement at the OSCE Permanent Council on 23 October 2008, which called on the Senate to reconsider the draft legislation to ensure its consistency with Kazakhstan's OSCE commitments.

Separately, the UK is funding via Freedom House a group of Kazakhstani non-governmental organisations to monitor progress on the commitments made by Kazakhstan at the OSCE ministerial in Madrid last year. This work includes legislative developments on freedom of conscience.