Fighting corruption remains an important public policy priority in Kazakhstan as reflected in the statements of the highest officials of the country. The State Anti-corruption Strategy for 2015-2025 is implemented through a series of action plans which are periodically monitored and amended taking into account recommendations of the OECD, OSCE and other important international bodies. One of such auxiliary documents is the 2015-2017 Action Plan for combating the shadow economy. The plan has been successfully implemented bringing massive monetary and property values back into the official aboveground economy.
As part of the development of the anti-corruption legislation in Kazakhstan and the strengthening of anti-corruption measures, significant changes to some legislative acts on combating corruption have been made recently, including the new Law of the Republic of Kazakhstan “On Combating Corruption”, which came into force on 1 January 2016.
Commitment and uncompromising stance in combating corruption of the Republic of Kazakhstan is inspired by the political will and initiatives of the President Nursultan Nazarbayev and enjoys a broad support of civil society.
Kazakhstan is building a modern state model similar to that of the countries leading in preventing corruption. Large-scale economic, social and political reforms have been carried out. Furthermore, the third modernization of Kazakhstan started in 2017.
The first prerequisite of modernization is the establishment of open and accountable government. In this regard, a Law on Information Access was adopted and Open Government electronic platform consisting of the five open data portals was created. In the coming years, it is planned that 80 percent of public services will be transferred to electronic format, while the rest will be delivered through one-stop shops. The measures adopted so far have allowed Kazakhstan to reach leading positions in the electronic government development index among South-Eastern Asia countries. The country is also 33rd among 174 countries according to the UN index.
The next stage of the modernization of Kazakhstan is the redistribution of powers. Thirty-five functions of the President have already been transferred to the Parliament and the Government, thus strengthening the role of these state bogies.
The Kazakh civil service has switched to a career model that prioritizes the principle of meritocracy. Entering the civil service begins with entry-level positions, and promotion on the career ladder is possible with the appropriate skills, knowledge and experience in lower-level positions. When entering the civil service, it is necessary to pass a three-stage selection system, including testing of legislation knowledge, assessment of competencies and interview. In order to increase the transparency of the state apparatus, it is now possible to hire foreign managers to occupy positions within the state authorities.
The reforms also touched upon the law enforcement system and the prosecutor’s office. Punitive-repressive methods and accusatory bias in criminal proceedings are gradually phased out from legal practice. The fundamental change in the sphere of prosecutor’s supervision is the exclusion of the remnants of the Soviet past, such as the so-called “general supervision”, from the functions of the prosecutor’s office. The new model of the prosecutor’s office is in line with the best OECD practices and gives priority to protection of human rights and freedoms as well as the legality of the criminal process.
The results of international ratings prove the effectiveness of the ongoing reforms. Kazakhstan has moved 27 positions up in the “Ensuring the fulfillment of contracts” indicator of the World Bank’s “Doing Business – 2016” rating.
Following the implementation of a new anti-corruption policy based on “Kazakhstan-2050” Strategy, “100 Concrete Steps” National Plan and the Anti-Corruption Strategy, Kazakhstan has taken significant steps to reduce the general level of corruption.
This work is based on a rational combination of anti-corruption education and prevention measures, with penal sanctions being the ultimate resort.
A number of prevention measures have been set out in the legislation including the creation of anti-corruption culture, analysis of corruption risks, anti-corruption monitoring and standards.
These comprehensive and complex measures have resulted in:
– reduced administrative barriers and corruption risks;
– near universal exclusion of human factor due to automation leading to greater quality of public services as well as introduction of standards and regulations for their provision;
– increased legal awareness and anti-corruption culture of the population.
Great attention is paid to anti-corruption education and awareness-building. “Honest generation” (“Adal urpak”) volunteer clubs have been founded in most secondary schools
With the support of the OSCE, the “Foundations of Anticorruption Culture” textbook has been developed and is now used in all universities of the country for teaching a corresponding subject. Mobile anti-corruption groups have become operational and use specially branded buses. All of these elements are united by a single goal – reach out to every citizen developing a stable immunity and a general rejection of corruption.
As a result, there has been an increase in the population’s activity in combating corruption. In order to encourage whistleblowers, material incentives are being widely used – 167 people were offered awards in 2016 totaling more than 60 000 euro, which is 14 times more than in 2015.
However, the state does not intend to slacken criminal prosecution of corruption crimes. Officials convicted of corruption, regardless of their positions and ranks, are prosecuted with all the severity of the law. According to official data, more than 10 thousand people have been convicted of corruption crimes since 2001.
Among them are two Prime Ministers, 9 ministers and agency chairpersons, fifteen regional and municipal mayors, eight heads of state-owned companies and eight national security, defense and law enforcement generals.
Shifting the emphasis from punitive to preventive measures received a positive evaluation from the international rating agencies. According to the results of the “Global Corruption Barometer” study by Transparency International, in the past three years the proportion of Kazakh citizens observing progress in combating corruption has doubled while the number of persons resorting to bribes decreased by a third.
In general, all anti-corruption work is based on close cooperation with OECD in the framework of the Istanbul Action Plan. It laid the grounds for adoption of the Anti-Corruption Strategy, introduction of external monitoring and evaluation of its implementation, and adoption of more than 60 laws aimed at minimizing corruption.
The Intergovernmental Working Group under the General Prosecutor’s Office on Improvement of Criminal Law Agency is currently developing mechanisms for implementation of international recommendations such as introduction of criminal liability of legal entities, criminalization of promising and offering of bribes and much more
The OECD recommendations direct the Agency in the ongoing work to improve the national anti-corruption legislation. Twenty different measures have been implemented in the framework of the OECD Country Program since 2015, 13 of them being comprehensive overviews.
Kazakhstan is pursuing the implementation of the Integrity Scan recommendations. Today the republic is an active member of 32 OECD working bodies in different capacities.
On 8th of December 2017 on the occasion of the International Day Against Corruption, an International Scientific and Practical Conference on «Modern anticorruption standards and development of international cooperation» was held in Astana.
The conference was divided into 3 parts, which provided an opportunity to discuss issues in the field of preventing corruption. Questions of the United Nations Convention against Corruption, international and legal mechanisms of combating corruption and corruption at the international and national levels have been discussed.
Overall, Kazakhstan has been successful in adopting a viable, specifically tailored legal framework for combating corruption infused with international best practice. Promoting civil society awareness and fostering a zero tolerance attitude towards bribery has been one of the highlights of the national anti-corruption campaign. Much remains to be done in this sphere but the Government of Kazakhstan and international organizations positively assess the country’s progress and perspectives of drastically reducing corruption regardless of its type, nature, scale or aims.