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The European Union and Kazakhstan held the sixth round of their annual Human Rights Dialogue in Brussels on November 12th.

The Kazakh delegation was led by Mr Yogan Merkel, First Deputy Prosecutor General, who was accompanied by Mr Vyacheslav Kalyuzhnyy, Director of the National Centre for Human Rights, and other senior officials. The EU delegation was led by Mr Silvio Gonzato, Director for Human Rights and Democracy at the European External Action Service.
The dialogue was held in a positive and constructive atmosphere, with open exchanges on a wide range of issues, including freedom of expression, women’s rights, the prevention of torture and ill-treatment of detainees, the regulatory framework for civil society organisations, and freedom of religion or belief.
The EU welcomed Kazakhstan’s development of a functioning National Preventive Mechanism for the monitoring of places of detention, and encouraged further steps to strengthen the Office of the Ombudsman and the National Centre for Human Rights. The EU acknowledged Kazakhstan’s recent engagement in the second cycle of the Universal Period Review (UPR) process at the UN Human Rights Council, and encouraged the Kazakh authorities to consider accepting a number of UPR recommendations that it initially did not support.
The EU raised concerns in relation to certain aspects of the new Criminal Code, which could have a negative impact on freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of assembly, stressed the importance of an independent press, and made reference to individual cases. The EU restated its readiness to continue working with Kazakhstan in the field of human rights and the rule of law, including in the development and implementation of a new National Action Pan for human rights.
The next round of the EU-Kazakhstan Human Rights Dialogue is expected to take place in Astana in 2015.

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