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UPDATE: Laws of the Republic of Kazakhstan: A Guide to Web Based Resources

 

By Oleg Stalbovskiy & Maria Stalbovskaya
(November/December 2008 update
by Oleg Stalbovskiy & Maria Stalbovskaya;
April 2011 update by Anuar A Nurakhmet)

November 2013 update by Anuar A Nurakhmet

 

Anuar A. Nurakhmet  is alumnus of Kazakh University of Humanities and Law from Kazakhstan (2008) and holds Masters degree in International Taxation obtained at New York University School of Law (2011). Currently he is working in tax law firm in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

 

Oleg Stalbovskiy & Maria Stalbovskaya worked as librarians at the Tashkent Open Library for Legal Information. They had been involved in important projects in the Republic of Uzbekistan, including the development of the Digital Library on Human Rights, providing organizational and methodical support for regional public law centers, providing legal information and support for people under judicial investigation, creating the website of the Open Library for Legal Information, and the development of electronic legal resources at the Open Library for Legal Information.

 

Published November 2013

See the Archive Version!

 

Table of Contents

1.  Introduction

2. Legal System of Kazakhstan

2.1. Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan

2.2. Constitutional Laws

2.3. Codes

2.4. Other Normative Acts

3. State Order in the Republic of Kazakhstan

3.1. Presidency

3.2. Parliament

3.3. Government

3.4. Constitutional Council

3.5. Judicial Authority

3.6. Local Public Administration and Self-Administration

4. Further Legal Resources

4.1. Online

4.2. Offline

 

1. Introduction

The Republic of Kazakhstan is a transcontinental country located in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. The territory covers 2, 7 million square kilometers and country is ranked as the 9th largest territory in the world. It is neighbored clockwise from the north by Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and also borders on a significant part of the Caspian Sea. The population is approximately 17 million people, including Kazakh, Russian, Uyghur, Ukrainian, Uzbek, and Tatar. Approximately 63% of the population consists of Kazakhs. The capital city was Almaty up until 1997, when it was changed to Astana.

 

The official state language is Kazakh. In state institutions and local self-governing bodies, Russian language is used on equal grounds with the Kazakh language.

 

According to the 2009 census, 70.2% of the population is Sunni Muslims, followed by 20.6% Orthodox Christians, 0.1% Buddhists, 0.2% others (mostly Jews), and 2.8% non-believers.

 

The Kazakh khanate was formed in the 15th century and had 3 tribal divisions (juz). From the beginning of the 18th century Russian Empire begun colonization and by the 1860s, Kazakh khanate became part of the Russian Empire.

 

Alash Orda, a Kazakh Government led by Alikhan Bokeikhanov, existed between 13 December 1917 and 26 August 1920. The Alash Party proclaimed the autonomy of the Kazakh people in December 1917.

On 26 August 1920, the Soviet government established the Kyrgyz Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic, which in 1925 changed its name to Kazakh Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic and then Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic in 1936.

 

On December 16, 1991, Kazakhstan adopted the Constitutional Law “On State Independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan,” which represented a major turning point in the nation’s development.

 

2. Legal System of Kazakhstan

The legal system of Kazakhstan is influenced by the traditions of both Islamic law and Roman law.  Islamic law, which was in force up until early 1920, incorporated many norms of Adat, the local customary law consisting of traditional prescriptions of the peoples of the region.  The influence of Roman law came primarily from the theory and practice of Soviet law and socialist principles.

 

Kazakh legislation is currently being codified.  Legislative and other normative legal acts can be categorized as constitutional, administrative, civil, criminal, labor-related, or other material or procedural laws. 

 

A strict hierarchy of the sources of law includes:

·       The Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan;

·       Constitutional  laws and decrees;

·       International treaties;

·       Codes and ordinary laws; and

·       other regulations, normative decrees, and so forth.

 

2.1. Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan

On January 28, 1993, the Supreme Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan adopted the first Constitution of the independent Kazakhstan. On 30 August 1995, it was changed to the contemporary Constitution, which was adopted by a nation-wide referendum.  The Constitution was amended on October 7, 1998, on May 21, 2007, on February 2, 2011.

 

On October 7, 1998, the Parliament enacted a “Law on amendments and complements to the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan.” This revision dealt with matters pertaining to the president's term of office, age restrictions, succession of authority in case of his death or resignation, and terms of Majilis and Senate members.

 

As President Nursultan Nazarbayev announced at a joint session of the parliament on May 16, 2007, the proposed changes to the Constitution of Kazakhstan are as follows:

1.     Redistribution of powers and responsibilities, in order to strengthen the role of Parliament. Reduction of the presidential term from seven to five years. Increase in the number of members of Parliament, both in the Majilis, from 77 to 107, and in the Senate, from 39 to 47.

2.     Strengthening the role of political parties.

3.     Development of local self-government.

4.     Improvement of the judiciary system.

5.     Development of international accords and strengthening of the Republic of Kazakhstan Peoples’ Assembly.

6.     Further development of civil institutions.

7.     Strengthening of human rights’ protection system.

 

On February 2, 2011 an amendment related to president’s election procedure was introduced. The Amendment provided that early elections of President of Kazakhstan shall be appointed by president and conducted in the order and terms prescribed in relevant Constitutional Law.

 

The Main Law of Kazakhstan constitutionally requires a presidential form of government. This also requires law reform in present-day Kazakhstan to be based on ideological and political pluralism, with legislation ensuring human rights and social-legal guarantees.

The Constitution of Kazakhstan is available in English, Russian and Kazakh on the legal database supported by Ministry of Justice.

 

2.2. Constitutional Laws

Within the framework of the formation of the legal foundations of state order, the following constitutional laws were adopted:

 

·        “On State Independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan,” in English and Russian

·       On the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan,”  in English and Russian

·        “On the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan,” in English and Russian

·        “On the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the Status its Deputies,” in English and Russian

·       On the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan,” in English and Russian

·        “On Republican Referendum,” in English and Russian

·        “On Elections in the Republic of Kazakhstan,” in English and Russian

·       Constitutional Law on Elections in English and Russian

·       Constitutional Law on the Judicial System and the Status of Judges, in English and Russian

·       On Constitutional Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan,” in English and Russian.

·       On State Symbols of the Republic of Kazakhstan,” in English and Russian

 

2.3. Codes

The principal branches of Kazakhstan law have been codified. Here is the list of codes:

 

·       Civil Code, General part in English and Russian.

·       Civil Code, Special part in Russian [

·       Civil Procedural Code in English and Russian.

·       Criminal Code in English and Russian.

·       Criminal Procedural Code in English and Russian.

·       Criminal Executive Code, General part in Russian.

·       Labor Code in Russian.

·       Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Administrative Violations in English and Russian.

·       Budget Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan in Russian.

·       Water Code in Russian.

·       Land Code in Russian.

·       Forest Code in Russian.

·       Ecological Code, in Russian.

·       Customs Code of Customs Union between Russia, Kazakhstan and Belorussia in Russian.

·       Code on Customs Affairs in English and Russian.

·       Tax Code in English and Russian.

·       Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Peoples’ Health and Healthcare System in Russian.

 

2.4. Other normative acts

Links to other Kazakh legal documents are available in English on LEXADIN and in Russian here .

 

3. State Order in the Republic of Kazakhstan

Article 3 of the Constitution states that the state power in the Republic of Kazakhstan is unified and executed on the basis of the Constitution and laws; this is done in accordance with the principle of its division into the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, and a system of checks and balances that governs their interaction.

 

·       The legislative branch is comprised of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan (the Senate and the Majilis).

·       The executive branch is comprised of the Government, state committees, and other central and local executive bodies of the Republic.

·       The judicial branch is comprised of the Supreme Court and local courts (regional, district and others).

·       Constitutional Council of the Republic of Kazakhstan according to the Constitution is a separate body and independent from judicial, executive or legislative branches.

·       The President post according to the Constitution does not belong to any of the power branches.

 

3.1. The Presidency

The President of the Republic of Kazakhstan is the head of state and the highest official in the state. The role of the president includes determining the main directions of the domestic and foreign policy of the state and representing Kazakhstan within the country and in international relations.

 

According to Article 40 of the Constitution, he shall ensure by his arbitration the concerted functioning of all branches of state power, as well as the responsibility of the institutions of power before the people. The President is elected every 5 years on the basis of universal suffrage. One person may not be elected President of the Republic more than two times in a row. However, according to Article 42 of the Constitution, this restriction does not apply to the First President, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

 

Nursultan Abishevich Nazarbaev from 1989 through 1991, served as First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Kazakhstan. From February to April 1990, he concurrently served as Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. In April of 1990, he became the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. On December 1, 1991, the first general elections for the Presidency were held, in which Nazarbayev was reelected as head of the state. A nation-wide referendum of April 29, 1995 confirmed this decision. This referendum also extended the powers of the President until the year 2000. On January 10, 1999, Nazarbayev was elected again as President of Kazakhstan, supported by 79.78% of voters. On December 4, 2005, nation-wide elections for the Presidency of the republic were held again, where Nazarbayev won the support of 91.15 % of voters.

 

The official website of President of the Republic of Kazakhstan consists of the Constitution (English), Constitutional laws, Codes, Presidential decrees, and International treaties (Kazakh, Russian, and English).

 

3.2. Parliament

The highest representative body of the Republic of Kazakhstan is the bicameral Parliament.  It consists of the Senate and the Majilis, in accordance with Article 50 of the Constitution. The first two-chamber Parliament was elected in December 1995.

 

The Senate is composed of deputies elected in twos from each region and major city, as well as the capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Elections are conducted at a joint session of the deputies of all representative bodies of the respective oblast or major city and the capital of the Republic. The President also appoints fifteen senators. The term of office for Senate deputies is six years.

 

The Majilis consists of 107 deputies, 98 of whom are directly elected by voters from the geographical electoral districts. 9 deputies are elected by the Assembly of People of Kazakhstan. The term of office for the Majilis deputies is five years.

 

The duties of Parliament in joint sessions of the Chambers include:

·       Introducing amendments and making additions to the Constitution;

·       Adopting constitutional laws, approving the budget for the state, as well as the reports of the Government, and the Accounts Committee about the budget’s implementation, and introducing changes into the budget;

·       Conducting second rounds of discussion and voting on the laws or articles of the law;

·       Hearing the reports of the Prime Minister on the Government's program, and approving or rejecting the program;

·       Hearing annual messages of the Constitutional Council of the Republic on the state of the constitutional legality in the Republic or reports on the activity of the commissions;

·       Deciding issues of war and peace;

·       Adopting decisions concerning the use of the Armed Forces of the Republic to fulfill international obligations in support of peace and security, at the proposal of the President of the Republic;

·       Putting forward initiatives calling for nation-wide referenda;

·       Exercising any other powers assigned to Parliament by the Constitution.

 

With adoption in 1995, the new Constitution the present Parliament replaced one-chamber body of the representative power - the Supreme Soviet. The first elections to the Senate and Mazhilis of the Parliament were held in December 1995. Total 47 deputies were elected to the Senate and 67 deputies were elected to the Majilis.

 

In autumn 1999 in accordance with introduced constitutional amendments, the elections on mixed scheme to the Mazhilis of the Parliament of the Republic were held. The scheme afforded the possibility for political parties to be elected to the Parliament as to party lists on the basis of proportional representation.

 

A new structure of the chambers of Parliament was formed in August 2007 according to constitutional changes and amendments of May 2007. The President additionally appointed 8 members to the Senate of Parliament on August 28, 2007, in view of the above-stated changes and amendments that increased the number of Presidential nominees up to 15 people.

 

According to the amendments to Constitution Mazhilis consists of 107 members. 98 of them are  elected on the basis of universal, equal and direct suffrage by secret ballot and remaining 9 deputies were elected by the Assembly of the People of Kazakhstan.

 

3.3. The Government

The Government implements the executive power of the Republic of Kazakhstan, preside over the system of executive bodies, and supervise their activity. The Government, in all of its activity is responsible to the President of the Republic and also accountable to the Senate and Majilis of Parliament, as stipulated by Constitution. Article 66 of the Constitution sets forth the main government’s functions:

 

1.     develop the main directions of the socio-economic policy of the state, its defense capability, security, guarantee of public order and organize their realization;

2.     present to the Parliament the republican budget and a report about its performance, ensure implementation of the budget;

3.     introduce draft of laws into the Majilis and ensure enforcement of laws;

4.     organize management of state property;

5.     develop measures for the conduct of the foreign policy of the Republic of Kazakhstan;

6.     manage the activity of ministries, state committees, other central and local executive bodies;

7.     annul or suspend completely or partially, the effect of acts of ministries, state committees, other central and local executive bodies of the Republic;

8.     appoint to and release from office heads of central executive bodies not encompassed by the Government;

9.     perform other functions assigned to it by this Constitution, laws and acts of the President.

 

The prime minister and first deputy prime minister are appointed by the president. Council of Ministers is also appointed by the president. According to the Constitution President could appoint and dismiss the government, appoint administrative heads of regions and cities.

 

The website of the Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan contains some laws and decrees in Kazakh, Russian and English. 

 

3.4. Constitutional Council

Part six of the Constitution contains fundamental regulations, which establish constitutional control in the Republic. This control is designated to the Constitutional Council, a body separate from the juridical system.  The Constitutional Council is a state structure charged with ensuring the supremacy of the Constitution of the Republic as the basic law for the whole territory of Kazakhstan.

 

The Constitutional Council consists of seven members; the Chairman and two members are appointed by the President of the Republic, and the Chairmen of the Senate and Majilis each appoint two members for six-year terms. Half of the members of the Constitutional Council shall be renewed every three years.

Article 72 of the Constitution sets forth the following main functions of the Constitutional Council:

1) decide on the correctness of conducting the elections of the President of the Republic, deputies of Parliament, and conducting an all-nation referendum in case of dispute; 2) consider the laws adopted by Parliament with respect to their compliance with the Constitution of the Republic before they are signed by the President; 3) consider the international treaties of the Republic with respect to their compliance with the constitution, before they are ratified; 4) officially interpret the standards of the Constitution; 5) conclude in cases stipulated by paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 47 of the Constitution.

In addition, the Constitutional Council could consider the appeals of courts regarding particular legal act’s conformity to the Constitution.

 

Its website contains the decisions of the Constitutional Council, the acting laws, articles and other information (Kazakh, Russian, English).

 

3.5. Judicial Authority

 Justice in the Republic of Kazakhstan may only be exercised by the court. Judicial power shall be exercised through constitutional, civil, administrative, criminal, and other forms of judicial procedure as established by law. In certain cases, stipulated by law, criminal procedure shall be carried out with the participation of jurymen. The courts of the Republic include the Supreme Court of the Republic and local courts of the Republic which are established by law.  The judicial system of the Republic is established by Article 75 of the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan and the constitutional law. The establishment of special and extraordinary courts under any name is not allowed.

 

The Supreme Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan is the highest judicial body for civil, criminal, and other cases, which are under the courts of general jurisdiction. This court also exercises supervision over the activities of other courts in the form of juridical procedure stipulated by law and provides interpretation on the issues of judicial practice.

 

Article 77(3) of the Constitution sets forth the following principles that judge must abide when dealing with the case at hand:  

 

1.     a person shall be considered to be innocent of committing a crime until his guilt is established by a court's sentence that has come into force;

2.     no one may be subject twice to criminal or administrative prosecution for one and the same offense;

3.     no one may have his jurisdiction, as stipulated by law changed without his consent;

4.     everyone shall have the right to be heard in court;

5.     the laws establishing or intensifying liability, imposing new responsibilities on the citizens or deteriorating their conditions shall have no retroactive force. If after the commitment of an offense accountability for it is canceled by law or reduced, the new law shall be applied;

6.     the accused shall not be obligated to prove his innocence;

7.     no person shall be compelled to give testimony against oneself, one's spouse and close relatives whose circle is determined by law. The clergy shall not be obligated to testify against those who confided in them with some information at a confession;

8.     any doubts of a person's guilt shall be interpreted in the favor of the accused;

9.     evidence obtained by illegal means shall have no juridical force. No person may be sentenced on the basis of his own admission of guilt;

10.  application of the criminal law by analogy shall not be allowed.

 

The Chairperson of the Supreme Court, the Chairpersons of the Collegiums and judges of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan is elected by the Senate at the proposal of the President of the Republic based on a recommendation of the Highest Judicial Council of the Republic.

 

The Chairpersons of oblast and equivalent courts, the Chairpersons of the Collegiums and judges of the oblast and equivalent courts shall be appointed by the President of the Republic at the recommendation of the Highest Judicial Court of the Republic.

 

The Chairperson and judges of other courts of the Republic shall be appointed by the President of the Republic at the proposal of the Minister of Justice based on a recommendation of the Qualification Collegium of Justice.

 

The Highest Judicial Council is headed by the Chairperson who is appointed by the President of the Republic and consists of the Chairperson of the Constitutional Council, the Chairperson of the Supreme Court, the Procurator General, the Minister of Justice, deputies of the Senate, judges and other persons appointed by the President of the Republic. The Qualification Collegium of Justice is an autonomous, independent institution formed from deputies of the Majilis, judges, public prosecutors, teachers and scholars of law and workers of the bodies of justice.

 

The website of the Supreme Court contains useful information in English. The Constitution, codes, laws, secondary legislation, and decisions of the Supreme Court are available in Kazakh and Russian.

 

3.6. Local Public Administration and Self-Administration

Local public administration is exercised by local representative and executive bodies, which are responsible for the state of affairs of the respective territory. Local public administration is exercised by Akim and its Akimat apparatus. Akims of the oblasts, major cities and the capital are appointed to office by the President of the Republic on the recommendation of the Prime Minister. Akims of other administrative-territorial units are appointed or elected to office in the order, determined by the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The President of the Republic shall have the right to release akims from office at his own discretion.

The main functions of the local executive body are the following:

·       Drafting of plans for economic and social programs for development of the territory, creating and providing for the realization of local budgets;

·       Management of public property;

·       Appointment of the heads of local executive bodies, determining their release from office, and resolution of other issues connected with the work of local executive bodies;

·       Exercising any other powers delegated to local executive bodies by the legislation of the Republic, in the interests of local public administration.

 

Local representative bodies are maslikhats. Deputies to maslikhat are elected by people for a four-year term.  The main functions of the maslikhat include:

·       approval of plans, economic and social programs for development of the territory, local budget and reports of their performance;

·       decision of issues of local administrative-territorial organization in their jurisdiction;

·       consideration of reports by heads of local executive bodies on the issues delegated by law to the jurisdiction of a maslikhat;

·       formation of standing commissions and other working bodies of a maslikhat, nearing reports about their activity, decision of other issues connected with organization of the work of a maslikhat;

·       exercise other authorities for insuring of the rights and legitimate interests of citizens in accordance with the legislation of the Republic.

 

4. Further Legal Resources

 

4.1. Online

 

General Sources:

·       Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Kazakhstan (U.S. Department of State)

·       World Factbook: Kazakhstan (U.S. Central Intelligence Agency)

 

Legal Guides:

·       Multinational Reference (Law Library of Congress)

 

International Law:

·       Trade Agreements The TCC's Trade and Related Agreements Database (TARA) includes active, binding agreements between the United States and its trading partners covering manufactured products and services (see Site Map for disclaimers). It is designed to provide the public with information on agreements currently in force.

·       Treaties are available free from Oceana Publications, but you must register with them.

 

Foreign Resources for Kazakhstan Legislation:

·       Database of national environmental legislation (NATLEX) - database of national labor, social security, and related human rights legislation maintained by the ILO's International Labor Standards Department.

·       ECOLEX - database of national environmental legislation. Environmental Law Gateway (UNEP/ICUN)

·       FAOLEX (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization)

·       LEGISLATIONLINE

·       FindLaw

·       LEXADIN

·       LawMoose Legal Search Engine

·       LawGuru

·       Internet Law Library: Kazakhstan (Pritchard Law Webs). Law resources of the Internet organized by subject and jurisdiction

·       World Legal Information Institute - Free, independent and non-profit access to worldwide law. 663 databases from 86 countries including 21 international databases.

·       World Law Index: Kazakhstan (Australasian Legal Information Institute)

·       Internews Network - excerpts

·       Washburn University Law Library - links to Kazakhstan legal resources

·       Intute: Social Sciences

·       U.S. Law Library of Congress for the Global Legal Information Network (GLIN) - annotated online hypertext guide to sources of information worldwide on government and law

·       Cornell LII - Legal Information Institute

·       Human Rights in Kazakhstan (Amnesty International)

·       International Religious Freedom Annual Reports: Kazakhstan (U.S. Dept. of State)

 

Local Kazakhstan Legal Web Sites:

·       "Adviser". Free online database of Kazakhstan legislation - About 4,000 documents are available in Russian

·       “Adilet”. Free online database supported by Ministry of Justice in English, Russian and Kazakh.

·       ZAKON.KZ Online database –Over 30,000 documents in Russian detailing the full legislation of the Republic of Kazakhstan, some of which are free.  Monitoring of legislation is also available in English.

·       Online database of over 40,000 free documents on Kazakhstan legislation "Zakon" in both Kazakh and Russian. News and monitoring of legislation, as well as the State Register are available in Russian.

·       General Office of the Prosecutor (Kazakh, Russian)

·       National Bank of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Kazakh, Russian, English)

·       Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan on Regulation of Natural Monopolies (Kazakh, Russian, English)

·       Agency on Statistics (Kazakh, Russian, English)

·       List of Kazakh Law Schools (Russian)

 

 4.2. Offline

According to the 1998 Law “On normative legal acts,” the legislative acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan shall be published in the “Vedomosti Parlamenta Respubliki Kazakhstan” (Registers of Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan), “Sobranie aktov Presidenta Respubliki Kazakhstan i pravitelstva Respubliki Kazakhstan” (Collection of acts of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Government of the Republic of Kazakhstan) and collections of acts of central executive and other government bodies of Republic of Kazakhstan

 

New legislation may also be published in the “Egemen Kazakhstan”, “Kazahstanskaya Pravda”, “Zan gazeti/Juridicheskaya gazeta” and “Oficialnaya gazeta”.

 

New laws, decrees, and administrative acts of the country are published in “The Bulleten’ normativnih pravovih aktov central’nih ispolnitel’nih i inih gosorganov Respubliki Kazakhstan” (“The Bulletin of Normative Legal Acts of the Central Executive and Other Governmental Bodies of the Republic of Kazakhstan”), which is published by the Ministry of Justice. Some court decisions and comments to legislation are published in "The Bulletin of the Supreme Court of the Republic Kazakhstan”.