At the request of the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Constitutional Council gave an official interpretation to the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic regulating the use of the death penalty.

The Head of State’s appeal was prompted by Kazakhstan’s imminent ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty (hereinafter-the Optional Protocol). The appeal deals with the relationship between the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic and the norms of the Optional Protocol governing the use of exceptional punishment.

The Constitutional Council has decided that for the ratification of the Optional Protocol there is no need to amend the Basic Law.

The Council noted, that according to the Constitution and universally recognized international acts, the right to life is a fundamental value of a democratic society and the State is obliged to guarantee the exercise of this right for all people.

As an equal member of the international community, Kazakhstan has, from the outset, taken into account the trend towards the abolition of the death penalty in its criminal legislation, and over the years a stable legal regime for the non-use of capital punishment has been formed in the country.

The next stage in the consistent implementation of this course was marked by the signing of the Optional Protocol by the Republic of Kazakhstan on September 23, 2020.

Taking into account that the Constitution of Kazakhstan allows the establishment of the death penalty for terroristic crimes which have resulted in death casualties, and also for especially grave crimes, committed in wartime, the Council indicated that the ratification of the international treaty on the abolition of the death penalty falls within the competence of the Parliament of the Republic. The Basic Law, however, leaves the question of establishing or refusing the death penalty in the criminal law for these crimes, narrowing their circle, to the discretion of Parliament. The legislator may abolish the death penalty not only by making appropriate amendments to national legislation, but also by ratification an international treaty providing for the abolition or limitation of crimes, for which this type of punishment can be established.

In its decision, the Council stressed that the Constitution does not preclude the ratification of the Optional Protocol. After its ratification, the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan must be brought in line with its requirements.

The full text of the resolution of the Constitutional Council is published in the press and on the website of the Council.