Secret police preparing changes to Anti-terrorism Law in Kazakhstan
Changes to Kazakhstan’s Anti-terrorism Law are being planned later in 2006 by the KNB secret police, Forum 18 News Service reports, referring to officials in Astana.
Kazakhstan’s National Security Committee (KNB) secret police is preparing changes to the Anti-terrorism Law, “but these changes are not going to affect believers,” Askar Amerkhanov, Deputy Chief of Staff of the KNB’s Anti-terrorist Centre has told Forum 18 News Service. This, however, contradicts remarks Amerkhanov made to the news agency Kazakhstan Today last month. At that time, he was reported as saying that a draft law would come before parliament before the end of 2006 and that it would tackle the so-called destructive sects and organisations, the activity of which is banned in a number of countries because they “exert a destructive influence on people’s personalities,” he claimed. According to Amerkhanov in September, those targeted by the draft law would include the Korean Grace Protestant church and the Jehovah’s Witnesses. This report “simply distorted my views,” Amerkhanov told Forum 18 yesterday. He went on to state that the Kazakh Supreme Court has not found the Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Grace Church to be destructive organisations or terrorist groups. There are 12 international organisations that have been recognised as destructive entities – such as Al Qaeda, the Muslim Brotherhood and other such organisations.
A Protestant source that preferred not to be named told Forum 18 of suspicions that the additions to be introduced into the Religion Law will ban sharing beliefs and missionary activity in Kazakhstan.
The assurances of the KNB’s Amerkhanov were greeted with scepticism by the head of the Almaty Helsinki Committee, Ninel Fokina. “Fortunately for us, the KNB secret police sometimes let things slip, and then deny what they said. However, in our experience there have not yet been any cases where these ‘slips of the tongue’ have not been proved correct. We will not find out what the KNB has thought up until its amendments to the “anti-terrorism” law reach parliament,” she said.