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Kazakhstan introduces arrest for misdemeanors with no detention homes in place

©RIA Novosti ©RIA Novosti

Threats, beatings, leaving in danger, carrying cold arms and poaching will not lead to arrests in Kazakhstan until 2017, Tengrinews reports.

These categories of offenses were transferred from the Code on Administrative Offences to the category of criminal misdemeanor. Introduction of the new term “misdemeanor” to differentiate the listed above crimes from heavier forms of breaking the law, criminal offences, is one of the most significant novelties of the new Criminal Code of Kazakhstan. Such differentiation exists in many countries and is supposed to make the justice system more efficient and fair.

Leader of the group working on the new Administrative Code and a member of the group developing the Criminal Code Isidor Borchashvili described criminal misdemeanor as an act that was not of great public danger and that causes minor damage.

Usually, misdemeanors are punished by a fine, correctional labor, public works or arrest. However, arrest as a form of punishment will come into force in Kazakhstan only on January 1, 2017. Thus, the courts will not be able to order arrest for misdemeanors for the next two years.

"A person shall not be deemed convicted for a criminal misdemeanor. Arrest is provided for up to 90 days starting 2017. However, detention facilities have not yet been built. Currently the Ministry of Internal Affairs is addressing this issue. Hopefully, they will be built actually. The fact is, we cannot keep together the persons who perpetrated a criminal offence and a criminal misdemeanor," Borchashvili explained.

Meanwhile, lawyers raise the alarm. Dzhokhar Utebekov believes that the arrest should have been kept in 2015-2016. "Criminal offenses are very common: intentional infliction of bodily harm, assault, threat, leaving in danger, petty theft, carrying cold arms, possession of drugs without intent to sell, cruelty to animals, and poaching. These are dangerous crimes," Utebekov said.

Quite often the only reasonable punishment for such misdemeanors is arrest. However, judges will be deprived of this opportunity for the next two years.

Such discrepancies between the idea and the reality, as is the case with non-existent detention homes, show how good ideas can turn counterproductive.

For example, Kazakhstan is trying to implement programs that ensure gender equality. It has developed the Gender Equality Strategy for 2006-2016 and adopted the law “On Domestic Violence” in 2009 and “On the Prevention of Offences” in 2010. On February 18, 2014, Nursultan Nazarbayev signed the law “On Amendments and Additions to Some Legislative Acts of Kazakhstan on Combating Domestic Violence” aiming to improve the legal framework on domestic violence and to protect the victims.

Nevertheless, the loophole in the system - the lack of detention homes provided for in the new Criminal Code – leaves the victims of domestic abuse in danger, because domestic tyrants will be able to get away with intentional infliction of bodily harm, assault, threats, etc. by paying a fine or participating in public works.

Astonishing is the fact that more often than not women suffering domestic violence have to pay the fine in the end.

“Domestic oppressors who are fined for their violent behavior often dodge the fine and it often happens that the woman (their wife) who was the victim pays the fine instead,” Chairman of Kazakhstan President’s National Commission on Women and Population Policy Gulshara Abdykalikova said a year ago at the conference called Prevention of Crimes and Violations.

Practice must correspond with laws written and ideas promoted. Otherwise, all efforts might end up being futile.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs of Kazakhstan requested speeding up the funding for nationwide construction of special detention homes. Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Berik Bisenkulov said that the system was experiencing problems with finding a place for those sentenced to arrest. Therefore, he said, it was necessary to resolve the situation by first allocating land for the construction of such detention homes and accelerating the development of the design projects.

Reporting by Roza Yessenkulova, writing by Dinara Urazova


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