The civil society organisations of Kazakhstan express deep concern about the pressure exerted on the International Legal Initiative Public Foundation, the Liberty Public Foundation and the Kadir-Qasyet Public Association, which resulted in an unscheduled tax audit in all three organisations, additional corporate income tax and fines. In this manner, the PF International Legal Initiative was additionally taxed for a total of about 1 million 300 thousand tenge (about $ 4 thousand), and PF Liberty was additionally taxed for about 3 million tenge ($ 9 thousand). The audit in the Kadir-Qasyet was suspended, rather than completed.
We consider the decision of the tax authorities to compel the non-profit organisations to pay corporate income tax to be illegally, since this contravenes Art. 134 of the Tax Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan concerning tax and other mandatory payments to the budget, which expressly states that the income of non-commercial organisations is exempt from taxation, provided that the conditions set forth are strictly observed, which the above mentioned human rights organisations did. In addition, the tax authorities are manipulating the concept of a "grant" contained in Art. 12 of the Code, using the long-standing problem of all Kazakhstani legislation, i.e. non-observance of the principle of international law about legal certainty and predictability, as well as a result of unclear definitions and the possibility of interpreting the norms of the law inconsistently. Decisions of the tax authorities concerning these organisations will be appealed in court.
Of particular concern to the civil society of our country is the fact that these audits are carried out on the basis of a statement, and in our opinion, a "denunciation" of a person who, after reading the publication on www.nur.kz website published on 11 July 2016 (https://www.nur.kz/1184969-skolko-inostrannye-fondy-tratyat-na-p.html), reckoned that human rights organisations could pose a threat to the stability of Kazakhstan. In this manner the state encourages denunciation in the spirit of repression of the 1930’s. Human rights and organisations that protect and promote them are the basis of stability, not a threat in any developed country.
The pressure on independent organisations of the civil society is in essence a prosecution for their human rights activities. In a democratic state upholding the law, it is impossible to prosecute human rights defenders for upholding human rights. Today, three organisations have been hit, and tomorrow entire civil society will find itself under a threat.
We call on the legal institutions of the country in full compliance with international obligations to protect the rights of independent human rights organisations to freedom of association, freedom from state interference in their affairs and, ultimately, human rights in Kazakhstan.
- Non-governmental organisations of Kazakhstan
1. International Legal Initiative Public Foundation
2. Kadir-Qasyet Public Association
3. International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law of Kazakhstan
4. Liberty Public Foundation
5. Charter for Human Rights Public Foundation
6. Legal Policy Research Centre Public Foundation
7. Cleanliness at Home Public Foundation
8. Adil Soz International Foundation for the Protection of Freedom of Speech
9. MediaNet International Journalism Centre
10. Youth Information Service of Kazakhstan Public Foundation
11. The Union of Crisis Centres of Kazakhstan Association of Legal Entities
12. Echo Public Association
13. Civil Expertise Public Foundation
14. Demos Public Association
15. Public Position Public Foundation
16. Zaman Public Association
17. Soros Foundation - Kazakhstan
18. Centre for Justice Public Association
19. Baikonur for Civil Rights Public Association
20. Leave Shelter for People - Pavlodar region
21. Aman-Saulik Public Fund
22. Foundation for Development of Parliamentarism in Kazakhstan Public Foundation
23. Legal Media Centre Public Foundation
24. Human Rights Monitoring Centre Public Foundation
25. Aktyubinsk Oblast Branch of Shanyrak NGO
26. The Vityaz Agency of Legal Information and Journalistic Investigations
27. Institute of Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities of Kazakhstan Public Foundation
- International non-governmental organisations that support the statement
28. Representative office of Freedom House in Kazakhstan
29. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights
30. Association for Human Rights in Central Asia