Criminal Justice in Kazakhstan — Alexei Trochev

06 Aug 2018

(CREECA Podcast) The criminal justice system in Kazakhstan is full of contradictions: Soviet-era accusatorial bias in pre-trial detention and sentencing goes hand in hand with the pro-defendant bias in closing criminal cases. This paradoxical co-existence of seemingly contradictory biases fits well within the informal power map of the criminal justice system. The major reform—reducing prison population to decrease recidivism and minimize international shaming (coupled with more recent drives for closing cases on the basis of reconciliation, the total registration of crimes, and a zero tolerance approach to combating crime)—has been achieved only through changes in the incentive structure of the criminal justice system. The post-Soviet innovation of closing criminal cases of public prosecution based on reconciliation with the victim has proliferated in Kazakhstan because this matched both the incentives of the criminal justice system key actors and the demands of private actors who are involved in criminal proceedings. In contrast, other types of public participation, such as jury trials which implement the right to a fair trial, give teeth to adversarial proceedings, and cultivate judicial independence—requirements of the Constitution of Kazakhstan—have rarely been used because they disrupt existing power relationships within the law-enforcement system.

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