Kazakhstan takes important step towards abolishing death penalty

Reacting to news that Kazakhstan has signed the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, committing it to abolish the death penalty, Marie Struthers, Amnesty International’s Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said:

“This news encourages us as Kazakhstan gets closer to join the ever-growing family of nations that have left this shameful punishment behind. Kazakhstan must now take the final step by abolishing the death penalty in law for all crimes and ratifying the Optional Protocol without reservations.”

Russia, Tajikistan and Belarus are now the only three countries in Europe and Central Asia which haven’t yet signed or ratified the Second Optional Protocol. Belarus is the only country in the region still to carry out executions.

“Abolition of this type of punishment globally remains a priority for Amnesty International.”


Kazakhstani President Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev announced that his country would join the protocol on the abolition of the death penalty in his speech at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly in December 2019.

Kazakhstan retains the death penalty for terrorism-related offences and has had an indefinite moratorium on the use of the death penalty since 2003. Courts stopped imposing the death penalty in 2004, but an exception was made in 2016, when the death penalty was imposed on a man who was convicted of a mass shooting in Almaty. He remains the only person on death row in Kazakhstan.