Mon, 27 May 2019

In addition to one Muslim on trial in Shymkent, 18 individuals are known to be currently jailed for exercising freedom of religion or belief. All are Sunni Muslim men. A further 11 are serving restricted freedom sentences. A further 12 are under post-jailing bans on specific activity. A further 29 who have completed sentences still have their bank accounts blocked.

As the criminal trial of Sunni Muslim Dilmurat Makhamatov continues in Shymkent, 18 individuals are known to be in jail for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief. All of them are Sunni Muslim men. In addition, a further 11 individuals are known to be serving restricted freedom sentences for exercising their right to freedom of religion or belief. All but one of them are Sunni Muslim men.

Prison at Zarechny, Almaty Region Kazis Toguzbaev (RFE/RL) The individuals or those close to them all deny that they harmed the human rights of others or called for the human rights of others to be harmed.

Even when sentences are complete, punishment does not stop. A further 12 individuals who have completed prison terms or restricted freedom sentences are still under often vague post-jailing bans on specific activity. This is likely to be an underestimate, as such post-jailing bans are not often made public (see below).

Those serving restricted freedom sentences live at home under probation. They can be assigned community work and are banned from leaving the town or changing their job or residence without permission. They can also be banned from visiting locations, like cafes or casinos.

Post-jailing bans on specific activity are handed down as part of the sentence. For those convicted to punish exercise of freedom of religion or belief, such bans which can be vaguely worded - often include bans on visiting places of worship or sharing their faith with others (see below).

In addition, a further 29 individuals who have completed prison terms or restricted freedom sentences, apparently as well as any possible post-jailing bans, still have access to any bank accounts blocked (see below).

Individuals jailed on "extremism" or "terrorism" related charges remain on the list for six or eight years after the sentence is completed. The use of undefined terms, such as "extremism" and "terrorism", by officials and in laws, has been strongly criticised by Kazakh human rights defenders and the United Nations Human Rights Committee (see below).

Criminal cases against almost all these individuals were initiated by the National Security Committee (KNB) secret police.

The closed trial in Shymkent of 40-year-old Muslim Dilmurat Makhamatov began on 4 April. If convicted he faces up to 19 years' imprisonment. Kazakh police claimed he conducted "illegal preaching among Kazakhstanis via the internet" while in Saudi Arabia. Once he was back in Kazakhstan they revealed charges of "inciting religious hatred" and "propaganda of terrorism". His friends reject the accusations. The trial resumes on 22 April.

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