Kazakhstans new law "On additions and amendments to laws of the Republic of Kazakhstan relating to national security," signed on 8 July by President Nursultan Nazarbaev, continues to cause strong criticism among international and local human rights organisations, as it substantially restricts freedom of religion or belief in the country. Professor Roman Podoprigora, a professor of jurisprudence who specialises in religion, thinks that the only real innovation in the law is that it makes the registration of religious communities compulsory, which the professor believes will substantially "limit believers' rights".
The law intends to forbid all unregistered religious activity, which previously had been a de facto but illegal requirement imposed by officials (see F18News 20 July 2004 http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=365 and 30 May 2005 http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=572 ). The new law gives justification for this official attitude by banning the activity of all religious organisations which have not been registered "in the proper manner" (see F18News 15 July 2005 http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=608 ). Kazakhstan thus joins two other Central Asian republics, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, whose religion laws ban the activity of unregistered religious organisations, in defiance of the international human rights commitments they have freely made.
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