KAZAKHSTAN: Human rights defender Evgeniy Zhovtis finally released!

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Paris-Geneva, February 17, 2012. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), welcomes today’s release of Mr. Evgeniy Zhovtis, founding member and Director of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law.

On February 1, 2012, a court in penal colony ОВ-156/13 of Ust-Kamenogorsk city had decided to grant amnesty to Mr. Evgeniy Zhovtis, prominent Kazakh human rights defender and also a member of the Council of Experts of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) under the Organisation on Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) in charge of freedom of assembly. Mr. Evgeniy Zhovtis was finally released earlier today.

The latter was detained since September 2009 for “traffic accident triggering death”. On April 26, 2010, the Supreme Court had rejected the appeal of his lawyer to initiate review proceedings declared by the observers as unfair.

“We welcome the release of our colleague Evgeniy Zhovtis, which had been awaited for a long time by the international community. However, we once again regret the fact that he was detained for more than two years on the basis of unfair proceedings marred with a number of irregularities, in an attempt to sanction his human rights activities. We hope that the case against him is now over, and that he will be able to resume his human rights activities as soon as possible”, FIDH President Souhayr Belhassen said today.

“This overdue decision is good news for Kazakhstan and for the human rights movement. There is a dire need for voices like his to be heard loud and clearly”, said OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock. “We hope that he is allowed to resume his work without hindrance and interference”.

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