Kazakhstan MPs suggest removing death penalty from Criminal Code
Criminal Code. © Yaroslav Radlovsky
Death penalty may be removed from the Kazakhstan’s Criminal Code. Such a suggestion has been made in the country’s Majilis (lower chamber), Tengrinews reports. “We believe there is a unique possibility to take a sound decision to completely remove death penalty from the Criminal Code”, some majilismen said when unveiling draft amendments into the Criminal Code. In line with Article 48, death penalty through shooting shall be applied to those found guilty of plotting lethal terror acts and those committing grave crimes in war time. In the current Criminal Code there are 18 crimes punishable with capital punishment. The draft Criminal Code implies capital punishment for 16 crimes. In December 2003 Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev introduced an unlimited moratorium on capital punishment. From 1990 to 2003 there were 536 executions carried out in Kazakhstan. Currently about 100 people are serving life-long sentences. According to Johan Merkel, Vice General Prosecutor, the General Prosecutor’s Office doesn’t support full abolishment of capital punishment. “I heard no arguments in favor of abolishment [of death penalty] apart from the argument that having death penalty in the list of punishments is a sign of backwoods mentality (…) Then let us classify the USA as a backwoods mentality nation [they do apply capital punishment]”, Mr. Merkel said. He emphasized that the state should have a clear-cut mechanism to protect its own citizens. “Why should we neglect the rights of the bereaved [for justice]? (…) Kazakhstan’s courts are cautious when applying this measure [actually replaced with a life-long sentence], although there are some truly spine-chilling crimes [that are widely believed to deserve capital punishment]. The General Prosecutor’s Office will never support the full abolishment; although, this measure might be renounced for some crimes”, he said. Majilisman Kairbek Suleimenov believes that “there are two perspectives from which capital punishment is viewed … it can be viewed from the lawyers’ perspective and from common people’s perspective … the moratorium introduced by President Nazarbayev is the golden mean. Should we hold a nation-wide referendum on capital punishment, 99% of common folks will vote in favor of capital punishment and its wider use. We should be aware of common people’s opinions; however, legislators shouldn’t be tied to the chariot of the common people’s opinions”, he said. According to him, “as of today, common folks don’t believe in justice. People tend to believe that some criminals sentenced to a life term could be somehow released at some point”. Majilismen representing the People's Communist Party are in favor of further applying capital punishment. “We do emphasize that capital punishment is not a silver bullet. We believe that terror acts, premeditated murders (…) should be penalized with capital punishment. There should be a strong warning for every potential criminal that committing a certain crime s/he risks her or his life. The fear of being executed is a strong deterrent”, Majilisman Vladimir Kossarev of the People’s Communist Party commented. Earlier Mr. Merkel said that the country’s Constitution doesn’t allow to fully abolish capital punishment.