Courts in any country play a huge role in building the state itself. Without fair decisions of courts, citizens cease to trust official justice, that is, the state itself. And if citizens do not trust the state, then they begin to sabotage laws, cease to obey government bodies, try to seek justice in an illegal field.
What is needed to ensure that the courts are trusted?
It is necessary that the procedure for filing applications, reviewing cases, issuing judgments and sentences be prompt, understandable, simple and, most importantly, fair. Any decision here (or at least most) all citizens of the country (or at least the majority) should perceive as a triumph of justice. The sense of anger and revenge against the criminal in their hearts should be extinguished by a fair verdict of the court.
Is this so now?
I’m afraid not.
Here is a small selection of high-profile court cases in Kazakhstan lately:
Eugene Zhovtis shot down a man who crossed the road in the wrong place in 2009. He was sentenced to 4 years imprisonment.
Alibek Kayimsultanov, the son of a former official, a wealthy businessman, committed a traffic accident in a drunken state in 2009, which resulted in the death of three people. From the scene of the crime was released by police officers and later disappeared from the investigation. In 2012 he was convicted, was sentenced to 7 years. However, he left prison after three years of amnesty.
Maksat Usenov in December 2013, drunk, hit a people standing on the sidewalk. As a result, one person was killed and several injured. He was punished in the form of 45 days of arrest and deprivation of driving license for one year.
Two brothers from the Almaty region in 2015 kidnapped horses in the amount of 20 million tenge. Sentenced to 8 and 5 years imprisonment with confiscation of property.
A. Mukzhanova, the head of the regional branch of the North Kazakhstan regional branch of Kazpost JSC, in 2016 stole the deposits of private persons for the amount of KZT 6 million. Received a sentence of 7 years imprisonment with confiscation of property.
Kazhimurat Usenov (father of Maksat Usenov) stole state funds in the amount of KZT 214 million allocated for the construction of the “Expo-2017” complex. He was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment and confiscation of property.
What do citizens of Kazakhstan feel when reading these materials?
Many of them are surprised, turning into anger and powerless anger from the fact that justice, in their opinion, does not exist in this country.
Children of high-ranking officials and wealthy businessmen avoid punishment or get softened, while ordinary people or people uncomfortable with the authorities receive maximum punishment.
Officials who committed embezzlement of public funds for many millions of tenge, get fines or receive incomparably small terms, while petty officials or ordinary employees receive long terms for theft of smaller amounts.
So it looks in the eyes of citizens.
Are they right?
Personally, I do not presume to say that everything is really as bad as it looks. For example, I talked with experienced lawyers. They told me that the judge who sentenced Maksat Usenov, considering the resonance around this case, would like to pass a more severe sentence, but he could not, because according to the law in force at the time, after reconciliation of the parties, there was nothing worse than to arrest for more than 45days.
But the fact is that most people did not recognize this. It is still in firm confidence that this case was “dissolved”.
But in the justice it is important not only to make a lawful decision, but also to get support of public opinion. It is necessary that the people understand and agree with the justice of the decision taken by the court. It is necessary to explain popular, accessible, understandable every decision of the court. Do not throw in any unintelligible paragraphs of articles that ordinary people never read, but explain on their fingers so that even a taxi driver and a pensioner understand and then say to everyone around: the correct decision was taken by the court. These taxi drivers and pensioners on the benches before the entrance form the public opinion. Clarification must begin from their level of perception of information.
Of course, you can do as judges do now: make a verdict, hit a hammer, take off your robe and go home. Many judges believe that they are not obliged to give explanations, everything is said in the verdict. Perhaps, yes, they themselves should not explain anything. But then there must be some shout of the judicial system that would translate into the human language, understandable to taxi drivers and pensioners, all court decisions, especially unpopular ones.
Without this, the people will not have faith in public justice.