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Kazakhstan Recalls Diplomat Accused of Domestic Violence in UAE

By Vusala Abbasova May 8, 2024

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The allegations surfaced when the counselor’s wife Karina Mamash published a post on social media through the foundation NeMolchi.kz (Don’t be silent) with pictures and video proof of the abuse.

The Kazakhstan Foreign Ministry has responded to the allegations of domestic violence against one of its diplomats stationed in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Saken Mamash, a Counselor at the Kazakh Embassy in the UAE, has been recalled to Kazakhstan following accusations made by his wife, Karina Mamash.

“We are urgently recalling this employee to Kazakhstan. Now law enforcement agencies will deal with his case,” the Ministry said in a statement.

The allegations surfaced when Karina published a post on social media through the foundation NeMolchi.kz (Don’t be silent) with pictures and video proof of the abuse. Karina revealed that she and her sister was subjected to physical abuse by Saken Mamash, raising concerns for her and her children’s safety.

“I have been subjected to violence for ten years. I want my husband to be stripped of his diplomatic status and put in jail for all the abuse he has subjected me to,” she said, adding that the abuse had run the gauntlet from physical and sexual to psychological and economic.

The case has brought attention to the issue of domestic violence in Kazakhstan, particularly in light of recent legislative changes aimed at enhancing protections for women and children.

Kazakhstan recently adopted laws “On Amendments and Additions to Certain Legislative Acts of the Republic of Kazakhstan Regarding the Protection of Women’s Rights and Children’s Safety” and “On Amendments and Additions to the Administrative Offenses Code of Kazakhstan Regarding the Protection of Women’s Rights and Children’s Safety.”

The Kazakhstan Senate passed the legislation on April 11, following its approval on February 21 by the Mazhilis, the lower house of the Kazakh Parliament. These laws significantly strengthen protections for women and children. This law reportedly became the first in the Commonwealth of Independent States region to introduce novel measures for the protection of women and children.

The passage of the new laws coincides with the ongoing trial of Kuandyk Bishimbayev, Kazakhstan’s former economy minister, who is charged with the murder of his wife, Saltanat Nukenova. The trial has drawn national and international attention, serving as a stark reminder of the urgent need to combat domestic violence and hold abusers accountable.

In Kazakhstan, domestic violence against women is a common issue. In 2023, courts convicted 67,270 persons of administrative offenses and police received 99,026 reports about family violence, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Under the new law, the responsibility for gathering evidence in instances of domestic abuse now rests with law enforcement, marking a pivotal shift from it being solely the burden of the survivor. Moreover, the legislation mandates that all cases of domestic violence must be logged and investigated by police, irrespective of whether a survivor lodges a complaint. This includes instances highlighted in media or on social platforms.

Furthermore, the law abolishes the option of pursuing "reconciliation" between parties to address repeated instances of "battery" and "light bodily harm."

Although these amendments mark significant progress for the country, the changes introduced by the law fall short of criminalizing domestic violence as a stand-alone offense either in the Criminal Code or Kazakhstan’s 2009 Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence.

Human Rights Watch underscores that international human rights law requires the recognition of domestic violence as a grave crime against a person and society.