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A. Introduction

Kazakhstan is a strategically-situated transit country along the main northern route for Afghan heroin and opiates. This route runs from Afghanistan into and through Central Asia into Russia and Eastern Europe. Cultivation and trafficking of cannabis has also increased in Kazakhstan, as well as the importation of synthetic narcotics that supply growing domestic demand.

According to a 2014 report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), opium production decreased in north Afghanistan while increasing in the south, prompting drug traffickers to shift routes away from the northern route through Kazakhstan. Interdiction efforts by Kazakhstani law enforcement agencies have also deterred trafficking across the country's southern border, resulting in a decrease of opioid availability and a six-fold increase in the price of heroin; the street-price of one kilogram of heroin in southern Kazakhstan ranged between $18,000 to $20,000 in 2014, up from $3,000 in 2007-2008. This reduction in opioid trafficking has also led to the importation of synthetic drugs from Russia, China, and European countries. Kazakhstan acknowledges the problem and is combating the development of synthetic drugs. Drug dealers continue to diversify their methods for selling illegal drugs in Kazakhstan, including the use of bank payment systems, internet sales, and mail services.

Kazakhstan has increased its international cooperation to combat drug trafficking through active participation in training and conferences on emerging threats and persistent regional problems. Kazakhstan's Ministry of Internal Affairs is concerned about a potential rise in Afghan drug production and its effect on Central Asia following the drawdown of NATO forces.

B. Drug Control Accomplishments, Policies, and Trends

1. Institutional Development

In 2012, the government of Kazakhstan adopted the Program on Combating Drug Addiction and Drug Business (2012-2016) with a budget of $41 million. The program supplements traditional counternarcotics enforcement efforts with drug demand reduction and rehabilitation programs, and tougher border control measures.

Kazakhstan hosts the Central Asia Regional Information and Coordination Center (CARICC). Kazakhstan also cooperates with several countries on a bilateral basis, and participates in counternarcotics activities as part of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing (EAG).

Kazakhstan has no bilateral extradition treaty with the United States, but mutual legal assistance is possible through reciprocity. Additionally, Kazakhstan is a signatory to the 1988 UN Drug Convention and obligated to assist in accordance with its provisions. The United States and Kazakhstan have begun negotiations on a bilateral mutual legal assistance treaty.

Since May 2014, participants in the Interagency Committee on Coordination of Counternarcotics Activity must be First Deputy Ministers or higher. The Committee is chaired by the Minister of Internal Affairs.

On August 5, 2014, President Nazarbayev issued instructions to optimize and reduce the number of ministries and committees. As a result, the Ministry of Internal Affairs' Committee on Combating Illicit Drug Trafficking was transformed into the Ministry's Department on Combating Drug Business. The Department retains all functions of the Committee and still coordinates counternarcotics activities implemented by all other relevant agencies.

Kazakhstan plans to increase its assistance to Afghanistan and the region to combat the Afghan drug threat. Several Afghan cadets currently study at the Academies of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Border Guard Service.

2. Supply Reduction

Through the first nine months of 2014, Kazakhstani law enforcement agencies seized 23.8 metric tons (MT) of drugs (compared to 24.6 MT during the similar period in 2013), including 344.6 kilograms (kg) of heroin (724.1kg in 2013) and numerous multi-hundred kilogram consignments of marijuana, cannabis, and hashish. The number of registered drug-related crimes decreased from 2,989 to 2,905.

Kazakhstan introduced criminal liability for trafficking of narcotic analogues in the new Criminal Code adopted on July 3, 2014, which entered into force in January 2015. The Ministry of Internal Affairs counternarcotics division in Almaty detected 16 incidents of trafficking of new psychoactive substances which resulted in the seizure of 10 kg of analogues. The majority were analogues of THC and contained a synthetic cannabinoid (JWH-18, JWH-19, JWH-210) and analogues of the psychotropic substance methcathinone (ephedrone), which are not controlled substances under existing legislation.

3. Drug Abuse Awareness, Demand Reduction, and Treatment

Kazakhstan has several ongoing interagency activities aimed at reducing demand for illegal drugs, including the Program for Development of Healthcare (2011-2015), "Healthy Lifestyles" (2008-2016), and the Program on Combating Drug Addiction and Drug Business (2012-2016).

The Ministry of Internal Affairs' Counternarcotics Department cooperates with 73 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) on demand reduction and the medical and social rehabilitation of drug addicts. The Committee on Combating Drug Trafficking supports the Center of Social and Psychological Rehabilitation of Drug Addicts, and the Ministry of Health runs a similar center. These agencies are also developing new narcology standards, treatment methods, prison addict rehabilitation, and harm reduction programs.

The Counternarcotics Department works with non-governmental and youth organizations to prevent drug addiction among children as part of the Program on Combating Drug Addiction and Drug Trafficking. The Ministry of Interior also publishes the magazines "Narcopost and Future without Drugs."

These efforts resulted in a decrease in the officially-registered number of drug addicts in the first nine months of 2014 (36,137) compared to the same period in 2013 (40,224). These figures almost certainly underestimate the actual number of drug users in the country.

4. Corruption

Kazakhstan does not encourage or facilitate drug trafficking or related activity as a matter of policy, and no senior officials were accused of drug-related corruption in 2014. During the first nine months of 2014, however, 12 crimes related to drug trafficking were committed by law enforcement officers. The government does not report corruption statistics. It does, however, reward citizens for reporting police corruption.

C. National Goals, Bilateral Cooperation, and U.S. Policy Initiatives

As part of the 2012-2016 Program on Combating Drug Addiction and Drug Business, Kazakhstan plans to continue drug demand and supply reduction efforts and to strengthen its international cooperation. To help reduce the illicit inflow of drugs, Kazakhstan plans to revise its border procedures for foreign citizens arriving in Kazakhstan, especially those from drug-source countries. The government is also developing measures to help identify and combat sea-based supply channels of heroin, cocaine and synthetic drugs.

The United States supports law enforcement capacity-building programs in Kazakhstan and has bilateral agreements on counternarcotics cooperation with the government. As part of the border security program, the United States is supporting a project on strengthening Coast Guard capacity on the Caspian Sea. In 2014, the United States organized 11 programs including interagency workshops, conferences, and study visits to the United States for counternarcotics officers who conduct drug-related investigations. The United States also cooperated with the United Nations to enhance the intelligence capacity of anti-drug trafficking agencies. All U.S. government programs are designed to increase Kazakhstan's capacity to combat drug-trafficking and drug use, and enjoy cooperation and joint funding from the host government. In 2014, Kazakhstan also initiated a long-term project with support from the United States and UNODC to further professionalize all substance use treatment staff in the country through the dissemination of U.S.-developed treatment curriculum.

D. Conclusion

The situation in Kazakhstan remains stable, although Kazakhstan remains concerned that the security transition in Afghanistan could lead to increased drug trafficking throughout the region. The Government of Kazakhstan is increasing international cooperation to confront the drug trade. More transparent and robust record-keeping is needed, along with a reduction in the corruption endemic in the region. Kazakhstan is taking steps to address these issues and recognizes the public health and national security threats posed by drug trafficking and addiction.
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Title Annotation:Country Reports
Publication:International Narcotics Control Strategy Report
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9KAZA
Date:Mar 1, 2015
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