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Kazakhstan president fires six supreme court justices for corruption

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev [official website, in Kazakh; BBC profile] on Thursday discharged six justices of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan [official website] for corruption. The Kazakh Prosecutor-General's Office [official website] has opened criminal cases [RFE/RL report] against the judges, who are suspected of corruption activity. The Kazakh State Agency for Combating Economic Crimes and Corruption [official website] approached Nazarbayev and asked him to remove the judges [Interfax report]. Supreme Court Chairman Musabek Alimbekov resigned after the charges were filed. Senators voted unanimously to approve Nazarbayev's decision and subsequently approved the appointment of Bektas Beknazarov, chairman of the Aktobe Oblast Court, to replace Alimbekov.

Human rights groups have closely scrutinized Kazakhstan's adherence to its international human rights obligations. Kazakhstan submitted to a Universal Periodic Review (UPR) by the UN Human Rights Council [official websites] in February 2010. Kazakhstan accepted 121 of the recommendations [Kazakhstan UPR materials] to reduce human rights violation, particularly with respect to freedom of the press. In August 2009, the Supreme Court affirmed the conviction of publisher Ramazan Esergepov, who was sentenced to three years in jail for revealing state secrets in his newspaper. A representative of Freedom of the Media at the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) [official websites] said that revealing public corruption [press release] is "the main duty of the journalists acting in the public interest," and that "[c]riminal sanctions for 'breach of secrecy' should only apply to the officials whose job descriptions stipulate the duty to protect sensitive information, but not to citizens."

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