Kazakhstan: Judges’ religious freedom to be restricted?

By Felix Corey | Forum 18

The draft Code of Judges’ Ethics – likely to be adopted at a 24 November congress – proposes wide-ranging bans on exercising freedom of religion outside the professional setting. Judges “shouldn’t be very active in their religious conduct”, says the Union of Judges secretary.

Judges could be deprived of many of their rights to freedom of religion or belief if the draft Code of Judges’ Ethics is adopted in November in its current form, Forum 18 notes. Judges could face disciplinary action for talking about their faith with others away from the court, being among the legal founders of a religious organisation, attending a religious conference as a private individual, or giving “provide support in any form” to a religious organisation.

The Code of Judges’ Ethics would apply to all of Kazakhstan’s estimated 2,660 judges. The Code is likely to be adopted at the much-delayed Seventh Congress of Judges. This is now scheduled to be held in the capital Astana on 24 November, Madiyar Balken, a Supreme Court Judge and secretary of the Union of Judges, told Forum 18 from Astana on 18 October.