NGO Echo is concerned about new legal acts.
On the 10-th August, 2016 amendments to several laws were published.
The amendments provide strict state control over the people and organizations that receive grants from foreign and international donors.
The amendments relate to the following activities:
Legal assistance, including legal information, protection and representation of interests of citizens and organizations, as well as counseling (except the activities of lawyers, mediators, notaries, appraisers, referees, audits). Studying and carrying out public opinion polls (except for public opinion polls and surveys conducted for commercial purposes), as well as distribution and publication of results. The collection, analysis and dissemination of information, except when indicated activity is carried out for commercial purposes.
President Nazarbayev said that the reforms should be aimed at strengthening the transparency and accountability of the state. Therefore, it is surprising that governmental organizations, responsible persons in government positions, MPs, military, law enforcement and special state agencies performing official duties, the subjects of quasi-public sector are excluded from the list of persons obliged to submit reports on the receipt and expenditure of foreign funds.
Reporting includes information not only about the source of funding, but also detailed information about how the funds were spent. This information will be published by the state in the public domain.
A great concern causes the punishment for breaking the rules of these statements: the first violation entails a heavy fine (at least 200,000 tenge) with simultaneous suspension of activities of the organization. According to tax expert opinion, the wording of the amendments are fuzzy, exceptions are queer. Amendments knock out of the context of the Tax Code.
Earlier it was already adopted a law providing for an annual detailed reports of NGOs on all its activities. The new amendments provide additional quarterly reports with severe punishment in case of violation.
NGO "Echo" considers the amendments are an analogue of the Russian law on foreign agents and fears that the amendments allow the authorities prevent the activities of independent NGOs and human rights defenders working to protect the political rights of citizens.