Capital punishment in Kazakhstan

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Capital punishment in Kazakhstan has been abolished for ordinary crimes, but is still permitted for crimes occurring in special circumstances (such as war crimes).[1][2] Kazakhstan, Russia, and Belarus are the only European countries which have not abolished capital punishment for all crimes (Russia retains it in law, but has de facto abolished it through a moratorium. In addition to war crimes, Belarus retains the death penalty for ordinary crimes too, and actively uses it). The legal method of execution in Kazakhstan is shooting, specifically a single shot to the back of the head.

Kazakhstan is not a member of the Council of Europe (which prohibits the use of the death penalty).

The last known executions in Kazakhstan took place in 2003, when 17 men were executed by shooting between May and November.[3][4]

On December 17, 2003, President Nursultan Nazarbayev introduced a moratorium on executions, and later commuted the death sentences of some 40 inmates to life in prison. In 2007, Kazakhstan amended its Constitution, abolishing the death penalty for all crimes except terrorist acts that cause loss of human life and exceptionally grave crimes committed during wartime.[1]

Amnesty International classifies Kazakhstan as "Abolitionist for ordinary crimes only".[2] Additionally, women cannot be sentenced to death under Kazakh law.

Since the moratorium was instituted, six people have been sentenced to death in Kazakhstan. All but one have since had their death sentences commuted.

In 2008 and 2016, Kazakhstan voted in favor of the UN Moratorium on the Death Penalty.

Notable death sentences since 2003[edit]

In 2006, former police officer Rustam Ibragimov was sentenced to death for masterminding the assassination of prominent politician Altynbek Sarsenbayuly. In 2014, Ibragimov's death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.[5] Until 2016, Ibragimov was the last person to receive a death sentence in Kazakhstan.

In November 2016, a court in Kazakhstan sentenced mass-murderer Ruslan Kulikbayev to death for terrorism after he was convicted of killing ten people (including 8 policemen) in a shooting attack against police officers in Almaty.[6] Kulikbayev is currently the only person under a sentence of death in Kazakhstan.


  1. ^ a b "HANDS OFF CAIN against death penalty in the world". Retrieved 2014-02-23.
  2. ^ a b "Abolitionist and retentionist countries". Amnesty International. Retrieved 2014-02-23.
  3. ^ "Kazakhstan and the death penalty: reform of the criminal code counters the abolitionist tendency".
  4. ^ "Document". Amnesty International.
  5. ^ "Ten convicted over Kazakh murder". BBC. 31 August 2006.
  6. ^ "Kazakh man sentenced to death in Islamic extremist attack". 2 November 2016.