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Kazakhstan has no need for death penalty: criminal law expert

29 january 2014, 13:59
Photo courtesy of msktambov.ru
Photo courtesy of msktambov.ru
Dean of the Criminal and Penal Law and Criminology Department of Astana-based Kazakhstan State Law University Abzal Serikbayev believes that Kazakhstan doesn't need capital punishment. The expert has told Tengrinews that he supports the idea of removing of capital punishment provisions from the Kazakhstan Criminal Code.

Kazakhstan is currently discussing a new version of the Criminal Code and there is a possibility that death penalty will be removed from the Code completely. However the Communist faction of the Majilis (Lower Chamber of the Kazakhstan Parliament) insists that capital punishment should be kept for case involving terrorist acts and premeditated murders.

"I believe, Kazakhstan has maturated to a high enough level of statehood and legal awareness to give up the capital punishment and remove it from the Criminal Code. As you are well aware, Kazakhstan introduced a moratorium on capital punishment 10 years ago and since then no executions have been served in Kazakhstan. 5 death penalty sentences have been given during this period, but none of then have been served because of the moratorium," Serikbayev said.

The criminal law expert believes that such a small number of capital punishment sentences given over the past decade testifies that Kazakhstan courts are ready to apply the alternative penalty -- life imprisonment. "I believe that life-long sentence is a severe enough punishment and the restrictions it imposes on a person are tough enough to view it as a real alternative to death penalty," he explained.

Serikbayev insists that relying on public opinion in making the decision for or against the use of capital punishment is a bad idea. "Some are proposing to hold a referendum on the capital punishment. I think it is not the right way to deal with this problem. If any one country that has already abolished death penalty holds a referendum, a majority of its population will vote for the death penalty. It is just part of human nature, but we should be better then that," he explained.

The expert admitted that there had been a time when he himself thought that capital punishment had to be in the Criminal Code of Kazakhstan, but he changed his mind. "Judicial or investigative mistakes are sometimes made in such criminal cases. This possibility cannot be ruled out. That is why I think that abolition of capital punishment is the best possible solution for the problem," he concluded.

By Altynai Zhumzhumina

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