David Cameron urged to raise human rights concerns on Kazakhstan trip

Human Rights Watch says it is very concerned about deteriorating situation in oil-rich republic

David Cameron is facing a demand to raise concerns about "serious and deteriorating" abuses of human rights, including evidence of torture, during a visit to the former Soviet republic of Kazakhstan.

Cameron will become the first British prime minister to make an official visit to the oil-rich republic as part of his mission to refocus British foreign policy on boosting trade links around the world.

He will meet the president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who was re-elected in controversial circumstances in 2011. During the trip a series of business deals covering energy and transport are expected to be signed.

David Mepham, director of Human Rights Watch (HRW), has written to Cameron urging him to make strong representations on human rights.

He wrote: "Human Rights Watch has been documenting human rights abuses in Kazakhstan for over 15 years. We are very concerned about the serious and deteriorating human rights situation there in recent years, including credible allegations of torture, the imprisonment of government critics, tight controls over the media and freedom of expression and association, limits in religious freedom, and continuing violation of workers' rights."

HRW said defendants in a trial last year testified that they had faced beatings and suffocation after riots in Zhanaozen and that government critics were imprisoned after the protests.

A Downing Street spokesperson said: "When the prime minister goes abroad he has full and frank discussions with other foreign leaders. Where the UK has concerns about human rights or other issues he does not hesitate to raise them."


Nicholas Watt, chief political correspondent

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Kazakhstan praises Cameron and Blair for helping improving country's image
As he flies into central Asian republic, British PM says he will raise Kazakhstan's poor human rights record with its president

Nicholas Watt in Atyrau

30, Jun, 2013 @1:43 PM

Article image
Kazakhstan's autocratic president tells David Cameron: I would vote for you

Nursultan Nazarbayev, who retained presidency in 2011 with 95.5% of the vote, says British PM deserves to win next election

Nicholas Watt in Astana

01, Jul, 2013 @9:26 AM

Article image
Kazakhstan: strategically valuable but democracy is 'work in progress'

Central Asian republic has amenable attitude towards co-operation with west but a poor human rights record

Joanna Lillis in Almaty

30, Jun, 2013 @1:44 PM

Article image
David Cameron seeks Kazakhstan deal as trade trumps human rights
Prime Minister stresses importance of securing business for UK as Amnesty says Kazakhstan has 'disgraceful' record

Nicholas Watt in Atyrau

01, Jul, 2013 @5:00 AM

Article image
Tony Blair's Kazakhstan role has failed to improve human rights, activists say

Situation has deteriorated since former prime minister began advising on good governance, according to Kazakh opposition leader

Joanna Lillis in Almaty

08, Nov, 2013 @6:04 PM

Letters: Kazakh president's human rights record
Letters: The Kazakhstan state officially sanctions the repression of any opposition elements. This ranges from threats and intimidation, right up to murder

02, Jul, 2013 @8:00 PM

Kazakhstan and human rights | @guardianletters
Letters: Vadim Kuramshin has worked for many years to expose the ill-treatment of prisoners in Kazakhstan. The charges are widely perceived as an attempt to discredit his reputation

04, Dec, 2013 @9:00 PM

Article image
China rebukes Cameron for pointing the finger over human rights abuses
Premier's words contrast with praise for Germany but he said China would send two pandas to the UK as mark of friendship

Patrick Wintour, political editor

27, Jun, 2011 @8:17 PM

Article image
David Cameron vows to raise human rights issues 'without hectoring' China

Prime minister's efforts to double trade with People's Republic receive boost as Rolls-Royce win £740m order from China Eastern Airlines

Patrick Wintour in Beijing

09, Nov, 2010 @11:55 AM

Article image
How Tony Blair paved way for first visit by serving British PM to Kazakhstan
While Amnesty International denounces ex-PM's involvement with Kazakh regime, Blair says he wants to encourage reform

Nicholas Watt in Atyrau

30, Jun, 2013 @1:43 PM