Kazakhstan considers registering migrants to curb terrorism

By Ksenia Bondal


Kazakhstani forces conduct counter-terrorism exercises in Almaty Province in November 2015. [Defence Ministry photo obtained by Ksenia Bondal]

ASTANA -- Lawmakers in Kazakhstan are mulling ways to reduce terrorism.

The effort comes after terrorists committed fatal attacks in Aktobe June 5 and in Almaty July 18.

On November 9, deputies in the Majlis (lower chamber of parliament) approved the final reading of a bill amending the laws on fighting terrorism and extremism.

The bill awaits consideration by the senate and by President Nursultan Nazarbayev. It proposes to "strengthen oversight of the sale of weapons and the procedure for storing them, including instituting a special procedure for oversight of gun stores", according to a written commentary by the Majlis International Affairs, Defence and Security Committee.

The legislation took months to work its way through the lower chamber. The Majlis first considered it September 8 but sent it back to the Interior Ministry for further work. The chamber approved the first reading October 15 and the second reading November 8.

Terrorists rented apartments

A pending requirement to register apartment tenants has become essential, Adai Baishulakov, assistant to the chairman of the International Affairs, Defence and Security Committee, told Caravanserai. That requirement also waits presidential approval to become law.

The terrorists who "attacked gun stores and a military unit in Aktobe in June and the criminal who shot five people in Almaty in July all rented apartments", he said.

Landlords who exercised responsibility in choosing their tenants could have prevented those massacres, authorities argue. The potential requirement to register any tenant who stays more than 10 days will help authorities, Baishulakov said.

Kazakhstani authorities, parliament and civil society are striving hard to fight terrorism, György Szabó, head of the OSCE Programme Office in Astana, said in mid-October during the Majlis's consideration of the security bill, according to the Majlis press office.

"We see how the state is trying to find more-effective methods of fighting terrorism," Szabó said. "Preventive methods are ... a major part of [counter-terrorism] co-operation ... We have to find a new balance in fighting this evil."

Imams and military support bill

Making any law to protect lives stricter is a serious and important step, Nikolai Kuatov, an army reserve major-general in charge of the Almaty defence affairs department, told Caravanserai.

"Today both immigrants and Kazakhstanis from other provinces looking for work are staying in rented apartments," he said. "Extremists and terrorists have to live somewhere too."

"Monitoring migration will truly help provincial police forces and the specialists of the National Security Committee [KNB] do their job," he said.

The bill should help authorities fight extremism, Joldas Bertymuratov, imam of the Ak Meshit (White) mosque in Pavlodar, told Caravanserai.

"Given the increasing threats from fanatics, these measures are appropriate," Bertymuratov said.

It is important to step up the work of police check-points, Astana-based political scientist Talgat Kaliyev told Caravanserai. Local police officers should have precise information about the citizens living in their jurisdiction, he added.

As for weapon registration, "above all, we need to make sure that existing rules are applied to everyone without exception", he said.

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