Kazakhstan Officially Abolishes Death Penalty After Nearly Two-Decade Freeze

Kazakhstan has abolished the death penalty, making permanent a nearly two-decade freeze on capital punishment in the Central Asian country, a statement on the presidential website said on January 2.

The statement said Kazakh President Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev had signed off on parliamentary ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – a document that obligates signatories to abolish the death penalty.

Kazakhstan instituted an indefinite moratorium on capital punishment in 2003 but retained the death penalty for terrorism-related offenses.

In 2016, the death penalty was imposed on a man who was convicted of a mass shooting in Almaty.

Ruslan Kulikbaev had been the only person on death row in Kazakhstan. He will now serve a life sentence in prison.

Toqaev announced that his country would join the protocol on the abolition of the death penalty in his speech at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in December 2019.

Russia, Tajikistan, and Belarus are now the only three countries in Europe and Central Asia which haven’t yet signed or ratified the Second Optional Protocol. Belarus is the only country in the region that still carries out executions.

With reporting by AFP

This post was originally published on Radio Free.