Features - A Legal Research Guide to Kazakhstan

Victor Malinovskiy is a Candidate of Law, Vice-Rector of Academy of Law, Higher Law School "Adillet”.  
Karim Shakirov
is a Candidate of Law, Vice-Rector of Academy of Law, Higher Law School "Adillet”.

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The Republic of Kazakhstan (until 10.12.1991 – Kazakhskaia Sovietskaia Sotsialisticheskaia Respublika) was founded on the territory of the former Soviet Union. Having decided to solve the complicated problems of the deep transformation of its legal system, previously based on socialist principles, Kazakhstan followed the way of other democratic countries based on the principles of the rule of law.

The official record of these main ideas was embedded in a political document -- Declaration of the State Sovereignty of Kazakh SSR, adopted on October 25, 1990. Later, another legal act – the Constitutional Law from December 16, 1991 “On the Independence of the Republic of Kazakhstan“ confirmed the new State’s proclamation. The new Constitution of the Independent Kazakhstan has being elaborated simultaneously and was adopted by the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Kazakhstan on January 28, 1993. Prepared under the pressure of domestic political conditions, the Constitution showed a contradictory character. On one hand, it was a compromise with the former Soviet Constitution. On the other hand, it contained revolutionary provisions related to the principles of the rule of law.

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The current Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan was adopted by referendum on August 30, 1995. It includes the main provisions of consolidation of Kazakhstan as a democratic, modern state in which the individual, his life, rights and freedoms are considered the highest values of the society. The Constitution guarantees the equality of citizens. Private and state properties are also guaranteed, as well as foreign investments, public unions including political parties, and Mass Media. On October 7, 1998 the Parliament enacted a “Law on amendments and complements to the Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan”. This revision dealt with matters pertaining to the president's term of office, age restrictions, succession of authority in case of his death or resignation, and terms of Majilis and Senate members.

The only source of state power is people. The Constitution and laws administrate the state's power. The Constitution creates three separate, independent branches of power: legislative, executive and judicial, keeping the branches of power within the boundaries set by the rule of law. The Republic of Kazakhstan is established as a state with a presidential form of governing.

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The Presidency

The President takes the leading place in the state’s mechanism of the Republic of Kazakhstan. He is the head of the state, its supreme official, symbol and guarantor of unity between the people and the state power, the symbol of the immovability of human rights and freedoms. The President defines the main directions of internal and external policy, guarantees the coordination and functioning of all branches of power as well as transparency of the branches of power before the people. The President is elected every seven years on the basis of universal suffrage. The President of the Republic has the power to make laws and decrees.

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The Government

The Government manages the executive power in Kazakhstan. It heads the executive bodies and directs their activity. It is appointed by the President of the Republic and lays down its jurisdiction when a new President is elected. The Government is responsible to the head of the state and accountable to the Parliament. Each of the Houses of the Parliament has the right to hear the reports of members of the Government concerning their activity. The majority of the deputies (two-thirds) can sign an appeal to the President of the Republic asking him to discharge from the office the member of the Government who doesn’t obey to the laws of Republic.

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The Parliament

The legislative branch comprises the Senate and Majilis. The Senate consists of deputies (two from each region, town and the capital of the Republic), elected at the joint meeting by the deputies of the representative organs of the Republic. The President appoints seven senators. Majilis consists of 77 deputies. Sixty-seven of them are elected from the geographical electoral districts directly by voters. Ten of the deputies are elected on the basis of party lists according to the system of proportional representation and on the territory of the national electoral districts. The deputies of the Senate are elected for six-year and the deputies of Majilis are elected for five-year terms of office. According to the Constitution, the Parliament has the power to initiates laws in the spheres of its competence.

The Parliament has the right to pass a vote of no confidence regarding the activity of the Government. When the Parliament does not adopt a law initiated by the Government, the Prime Minister has the right to rise a question of no confidence.

The President of the Republic has the power to dissolve the Parliament when the Parliament expresses a vote of no confidence for the Government. When the Parliament refuses twice to give consent for the appointment of the Prime Minister, the President can also dissolve the Parliament. The same thing can occur when a political crisis caused by the insuperable differences between the Houses of the Parliament or the Parliament and other branches of state power evolves.

The Parliament has the right to remove the President of the Republic in the case of high treason.

The Constitutional control in Kazakhstan is administrated by the Constitutional Council. It consists of seven members appointed by the President of Republic, the chairman of the Senate and by the chairman of the Majilis of the Parliament.

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The Court System

The Court system of Kazakhstan includes the Supreme Court of the Republic of Kazakhstan and local courts (regional, district and others), established in accordance with the Constitution.

Establishment of special and extraordinary courts is prohibited, though specialized courts may be created (military, economic, administrative, juvenile, etc). The Supreme Court, the highest judicial body, dealing with civil, criminal and other cases, as well as cases of common jurisdiction, performs the control over lower courts activities and solves problems of the judicial practice. The Supreme Court includes the supervisory board, civil board, criminal board and plenary session of the court.

Judges of the Supreme Court are appointed by the Senate after being presented by the President and recommended by the Highest Court Council. Other judges, depending on their status, are appointed by the President on recommendation of the Qualification College of Justice or the Highest Court Council, which are special bodies regulated by special laws. A judge can be replaced on the legal grounds only.

The organization of courts, status of judges and enforcement of justice are regulated by the Constitution, Constitutional Law “About Court System and Judges Status in the Republic of Kazakhstan“ (2000) and other legislative acts. Only courts administrate justice, which gives all the judicial power to judges and jury, acting on behalf of the courts. No other juridical and physical bodies are empowered to perform the duties of a judge and execute judicial power. Judges are independent and submitted only to the laws.

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The Legal System

The legal system of Kazakhstan is built according to the traditions of the continental, Roman-Germanic family of laws. The legal system of Kazakhstan is greatly influenced by the legal theory and practice of the Russian Federation. The Constitution reveals the content of the existing legislative system, which includes constitutional norms and laws, other normative legal acts, international treaties and other state obligations, normative decrees of the Constitutional Council and the Supreme Court. Ratified international agreements and treaties have the priority over domestic laws and are enforced directly, except cases when according to the international agreement a special law must be issued for its application. The Law “On normative legal acts“ (1998) regulates the notion and types of normative legal acts, their hierarchy, the competence of official bodies in the field of law-creating and maintaining constitutional guaranties. Legislative and other normative legal acts can be divided according to the constitutional, administrative, civil, criminal, labor and other material or procedural laws.

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The Legal Profession

This is one of the most prestigious, well-paid and highly needed profession in Kazakhstan. A diploma of higher legal education is obligatory when applying for various positions in government divisions, courts, procuracy, Ministry of Interior Affairs, Committee of the National Security, and Finance Police. Professional lawyers are in demand with social organizations, political parties, independent mass media, and international organizations. People, applying for the position of a judge, notary or advocate, must take a special qualification examination.

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Legal Education

The system of legal education in Kazakhstan has a multi-level structure, which includes secondary (colleges) and higher professional educational institutions (institutes, academies, and universities), and aspirancy or doktorantura, where scientists and tutors of the highest qualification are trained and write their dissertations. Training in higher educational institutions can guarantee that any accepted student can get a higher specialized education and a qualification as a lawyer; higher basic education and a diploma of the Bachelor of Law; higher scientific-pedagogical education and a diploma of the Master of Law. The State Standards of the higher legal education lay out the main and optional subjects of programs for higher educational institutions.

The Constitution provides for a possibility of getting free education. Students may take exams in any institution for receiving state grants and loans. Two Kazakh Law institutions can be noted for their high quality of the education. They are the Kazakh Humanitarian Law University and the Academy of Law – Higher Law School “Adilet“. These institutions prepare experts in all fields of the legal science.

Following the cardinal changes of the legal system, the development of the open society institutions and the shift towards the democratic values, the training of lawyers has been changing too. Specialization in the field of commerce, international arbitration, civil law becomes more and more popular.

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Civil Code ,in force 1 Mar 1995, was implemented by the Presidential edict of 23 Mar 1995. Available in English at http://www.kazecon.kz/stockinfo/law/law-eng and in Russian (current and consolidated text of 1 Jul 1999) at Kazecon. Kazakhstan has the Code of Civil Procedure, a Commercial Code, Criminal Code (in force as of 1 Jan 1998), a Code of Criminal Procedure.

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Legal Publications

The official gazette (Kazakhstanskaia pravda: Kazakstan Pravdasy. 1921– . Almaty), Komitet), and the compilation of normative acts (Sobranie aktov) are the publications that contains the new laws, decrees, administrative acts of the country.

The democratic society has increased the interest for legal information. Publishing houses emerged, such as “Lawyer“, “Zhety Zhargy“, “Baspa“, “Ayan-Edet“, “LEM“ and “Daneker“. Educational institutions have their own publishing divisions, issuing scientific works of teaching staff and students, i.e., magazines – “Scientific works of “Adilet“ of the Academy of Law-Higher Law School “Adilet”; “KazNU Reporter: Legal series“ of the Kazakh National University after Al-Farabi; “State and Law“ of the Kazakh Humanitarian Law University, etc.

The popular legal periodical press is represented by newspapers and magazines such as “Juridical Newspaper“, “Official Newspaper“, “Kazakh Magazine of International Law“, “The world of Law“, “Law news“, “Youth and Law“, “The Legal Reform in Kazakhstan“, “The Human Rights in Kazakhstan and World“, “Femida”, “Man and Law“, “Law and Time“. Since 1993, the Republican Center of Legal Information has accumulated all legislative and normative/administrative data in the country. The Center is a holder of the State Register of the normative legal acts of Kazakhstan. Its database includes more than 19.000 of full-text documents in the official and Russian languages (http://www.banknet.kz/~rcli). This is the most comprehensive database of country’s legislation. According to the Government Decree No. 1680 of 1997 all documents are provided by official bodies and publications. A search engines helps locate documents in full-text.

See more links on Kazakhstan at Adminet.

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Electronic Sources

Kazecon is the first Internet stop for anyone doing business in Kazakhstan, featuring daily news headlines, weekly news summaries, and information on the securities market, legislation, industries, and companies doing business in the Republic. Presented in both English and Russian.

The electronic inquiry system “Lawyer“ created by the company “YurInfo“, also publishes legal data, available both on CDs and online.

There is a wide range of official web-sites presenting legislative, legal and statistic data:

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