119. With the attainment of independence by Kazakhstan, new priorities were set in the life of the country, inter alia, ensuring respect for civil rights and freedoms. Kazakhstan has now acceded to the main international human rights instruments, thereby confirming its intention to build a law-based, democratic and secular State that guarantees the inviolability of fundamental human rights and freedoms.
120. Human rights and freedoms are recognized and guaranteed under the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan. The constitutional provisions regarding children’s civil rights and freedoms have been expanded on in the corresponding legislation.
121. The civil rights of minors are protected by the courts, inter alia, through recognition of those rights; restoration of the situation that prevailed before a right was violated; and curtailment of actions that infringe or risk infringing a right.
122. Issues relating to Kazakh nationality are regulated under the Constitution, the Nationality Act and other legislative acts.
123. An identity card or passport of a citizen of the Republic of Kazakhstan may be used to confirm citizenship of the Republic. For children under 16, the child’s birth certificate or the passport of either parent may serve as proof of citizenship.
124. A child who is present in the territory of Kazakhstan and whose parents are both unknown is a citizen of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
125. A child one of whose parents is a citizen of the Republic of Kazakhstan when the child is born and the other of whom is a stateless person or one whose nationality is unknown is a citizen of the Republic, regardless of the place of birth.
126. The procedure for registering a child’s birth and establishing his or her first name, patronymic and family name, which also applies with regard to adopted children and children of foreign citizens or stateless persons, is regulated by the Marriage and the Family Act.
127. The child’s right to a name, nationality and citizenship is also reflected in the Children’s Rights Act and in paragraphs 135-140 of the initial report on the implementation of the Convention, considered in 2003.
B. Preservation of identity
128. The right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations, is provided for in the Criminal Code and the Code of Administrative Offences, and also in the Marriage and the Family Act, the Nationality Act and the Children’s Rights Act. The right of the child to preserve his or her identity is dealt with in detail in paragraphs 214-229 of the initial report of Kazakhstan, considered in 2003.
C. Freedom of expression
129. Under article 13 of the Convention, which is implemented through the Children’s Rights Act, every child has the right to freedom of speech and expression.
130. Children express their opinions by participating actively in conferences, quizzes, legal seminars, business role-playing games, clubs, round tables and forums.
131. The innovative programme “Debates”, organized as part of the social partnership with NGOs, has introduced a new form of freedom of expression for children. Since 2003, some 13,000 children from 16 regions in Kazakhstan have participated in the programme. Holding debates on various topics helps children to research and analyse information on a given subject and to develop critical thinking and the skills required for independent study. The media play an active role in organizing the debates.
132. The right of the child to freedom of expression is dealt with in paragraphs 129-132 and 142 of the initial report of Kazakhstan, considered in 2003, and also in the section of the present report entitled “Respect for the views of the child”.
Freedom of thought, conscience and religion
133. In Kazakhstan, the practice of religion is regulated by several legislative acts: the Constitution, the Civil Code, the Freedom of Religion and Religious Organizations Act, and other laws and regulations.
134. The necessary legal and organizational conditions have been created so as to ensure the peaceful coexistence of different religious faiths, and a single State policy has been developed for harmonious interfaith relations.
135. Kazakhstan, which considers itself a democratic, secular, social State governed by the rule of law, continuously monitors the observance of the right to freedom of religion. The first congress of leaders of world and traditional religions, held in Astana in 2003, is a clear example of Government efforts to foster dialogue between different cultures and civilizations and to guarantee the protection of the right to freedom of religion, in accordance with universally recognized international standards.
136. The Constitution guarantees everyone freedom of conscience.
137. Impeding the exercise of the right to freedom of conscience and religion is punishable under article 149 of the Criminal Code.
138. Pursuant to Presidential decree No. 332 of 10 February 2000 on the prevention and suppression of manifestations of terrorism and extremism and order No. 5 of the Ministry of Education and Science of 6 January 2003 on the introduction of a course entitled “Foundations of religious studies”, an optional course of the same name was introduced for grades 10 and 11 in general-education schools.
139. The main purpose of teaching the subject is to familiarize senior pupils with religion as a social phenomenon and to provide them with a basic knowledge of Islam, Christianity and Buddhism.
140. In the senior grades of general-education schools, pupils are provided with detailed information on the religions of the world when studying the compulsory subjects “World history” and “Man and society”.
141. In line with the current national standards for initial and secondary vocational education, history of religion is studied under different topics within general education and socio-economics.
142. The right of every Kazakh citizen to freedom of conscience and religion is covered in paragraphs 143-146 of the initial report of Kazakhstan, considered in 2003.