Kazakhstan: Jailed activist awarded human rights prize

Vadim Kuramshim’s courageous campaigning recognised by lawyers’ prestigious award

The 2013 Ludovic-Trarieux Human Rights Prize has been awarded to Vadim Kuramshim, a human rights campaigner currently imprisoned for 12 years in terrible conditions in Kazakhstan, after a farcical trial that trampled over all norms of natural justice. The awarding of the prize is a recognition of the years of courageous campaigning work by Vadim. It is also due to the ceaseless campaigning by Vadim’s family and supporters in Kazakhstan for his release from prison, and also because of Vadim’s international support, not least the highlighting of his case by Campaign Kazakhstan.

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

This prize was created in 1984 and according to the Ludovic-Trarieux Prize website, it is awarded to “a lawyer, regardless of nationality or Bar [national bar associations – professional bodies of lawyers] who thorough-out 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 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. (See articles on this site)

The award of the International Human Rights Prize Ludovic –Trarieux is a major boost for the campaign to free Vadim. The Prize has the backing of important lawyers’ and human rights organisations, as outlined by the Prize website: “Since 2003, the Prize is awarded every year in partnership by the Human Rights Institute of The Bar of Bordeaux, the Human Rights Institute of the Bar of Paris, the Human Rights Institute of The Bar of Brussels, l’Unione forense per la tutela dei diritti dell’uomo (Roma), Rechtsanwaltskammer Berlin, the Bar of Luxemburg, the Bar of Geneva as well as the Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA), and the European Bar Human Rights Institute (IDHAE) whose members are the biggest European law societies fighting for 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 December 5 2013

Letters can be sent to the President of Kazakhstan at the following address:

President Nursultan Nazarbayev

Office of the President

Akorda Building

Left Bank of the Ishim River

010000 Astana


Emails can be sent to the Kazakh authorities at: 1: Embassies of Kazakhstan in your country – a list of Kazakh embassies and consulates can be found here http://www.embassypages.com/kazakhsta

2: Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of Kazakhstan

010000 Kazakhstan, Astana, D Kunayev s tap 31

Tel: +7 7172 720111

Fax +7 7172 720110

Email: astana@mfa.kz

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September 2013