Ambassador Urs Schmid gave a welcoming speech at the roundtable on the topic of “Life imprisonment in Kazakhstan: implementation of humane alternative sanctions to death penalty – life imprisonment in criminal legislation and practice”. The Ambassador stated the priorities of Switzerland’s human rights policy, among others, the universal implementation and adherence of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and the abolition of the death penalty. After his statement the results of the survey on “Life imprisonment in Kazakhstan” conducted by the Regional Office of the NGO Penal Reform International (PRI) in Central Asia were presented and the topic was intensively discussed by a distinguished group of representatives of public authorities, members of the parliament, academics, representatives of diplomatic missions as well as of international and non-governmental organizations.
The roundtable was hosted by the Regional Office of Penal Reform International (PRI) in Central Asia, the Committee on Legislation and Legal Reform of the Mazhilis, the Penal Committee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs as well as the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Central Asia. The Embassy supported the conduction of the survey within the framework of funding for small projects among others in the field of human rights. The project included a field visit to a penal colony near the city of Zhitikara in the Kostanay region where life imprisoned inmates serve their prison terms. This topic is currently of high concern in the society and mass media. In Kazakhstan, an indefinite moratorium on executions, issued by presidential decree in December 2003, is in force.