Kazakhstan: Jailed activist awarded human rights prize

Kazakhstan: Jailed activist awarded human rights prize

Below is a short report from the Campaign Kazakhstan website on the news of Vadim Kuramshim’s award.

Imprisoned human rights lawyer, Vadim Kuramshim, has been awarded the 2013 Ludovic-Trarieux Human Rights Prize, the “oldest and most prestigious award given to a lawyer in the world”.

The first prize was awarded in 1985 to Nelson Mandela, then in a jail in apartheid South Africa.

It is awarded to “a lawyer, regardless of nationality or Bar [national bar associations – professional bodies of lawyers] who thoroughout his career has illustrated, by his activity or his suffering, the defence of human rights, the promotion of defence rights, the supremacy of law, and the struggle against racism and intolerance in any form”.

Vadim Kuramshim is a well-known lawyer and human rights defender, who has spent years in prison and been persecuted, including being tortured, for exposing the atrocious conditions in Kazakhstan’s prisons.

His latest ‘crime’ in the eyes of the Nazarbayev regime was exposing the endemic corruption in the regime’s administrative apparatus.

He was arrested in September 2012 after returning from a conference in Warsaw where he gave a speech denouncing human rights abuses in Kazakhstan.

He was however found innocent by a jury of all the serious charges against him and released.

Vadim was again arrested in October 2012 and eventually taken to a court with no jury. In breach of many of the court’s own procedures, Vadim was pronounced guilty and sent to prison for 12 years on the same charges on which he had first been acquitted. This outrageous verdict was upheld by the Court of Taraz on 14 February 2013.

During March 2013, Vadim Kuramshim was transferred to a prison colony that is infamous for violations of prisoners’ human rights.

Campaign Kazakhstan warmly welcomes the Ludovic-Trarieux award to Vadim and appeals to supporters to step up the campaign for his immediate release.

A new target can be set of getting Vadim out of prison in time to attend, in person, the formal awarding of the prize in Paris on 5 December 2013.


  • Demand Vadim’s release. Write to Kazakh embassy in Britain: Ambassador Kairat Abusseitov, 33 Thurloe Square, London, SW7 2SD. Email: [email protected]