The Kazakh President signs the parliamentary ratification of a document obliging the countries to abolish the death penalty.

Kazakhstan has abolished the death penalty and has permanently frozen the death penalty in the Central Asian country for nearly 20 years, according to a notice on the president’s website.

The statement released on Saturday said President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev signed the parliamentary ratification of the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights – a document that obliges signatories to abolish the death penalty.

The executions in Kazakhstan were suspended from 2003 onwards, but the courts continued to sentence convicts to death in exceptional circumstances, including for crimes classified as “acts of terrorism”.

Ruslan Kulekbayev, a lone gunman who killed eight police officers and two civilians in a rampage in Kazakhstan’s largest city, Almaty, in 2016, was among those sentenced to be executed if the moratorium was lifted.

Kulekbayev will instead serve a life sentence.

As an alternative punishment, a life sentence was introduced in Kazakhstan in 2004.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights was passed in 1966, came into force in 1976 and 173 countries joined it.

The Second Optional Protocol to the Abolition of the Death Penalty was adopted on December 15, 1989 and came into force in 1991.

The Kazakh parliament ratified the protocol on December 29th. In addition to Kazakhstan, 88 other nations are members of the agreement.

“The signatory countries undertake the following obligations: firstly, not to apply the death penalty; secondly, to take all necessary measures to abolish the death penalty in their jurisdiction. The only exception is that the death penalty is permissible in case of war, ”Kazakh Foreign Minister Mukhtar Tleuberdi said at the time.

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