Finalists of the ‘Capstone Project’ research competition, implemented by Penal Reform International (PRI) with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Kazakhstan, presented their research projects on 14 July 2020. This year, due to the COVID-19 related restrictions in Kazakhstan, students of M.Utemissov West Kazakhstan State University presented their research ideas online.
Since September 2019, a number of activities related to the project, with the participation of representatives of local authorities, the administration of the university, as well as PRI international and national experts were carried out at M.Utemisov University. This included an official launch of the project with the selection of 21 students to participate – all who major in Law and International Relations – based on the results of two qualifying rounds. Over the course of nine months, ‘Capstone Project’ students, had participated in a range of events, etc., while conducting research on topical issues of human rights protection in Kazakhstan.
The students presented their ideas at an online event to the Capstone Final Review Committee which comprised of:
- Sonja Kuip, Chargé d’Affaire of the Embassy of the Netherlands in the Republic of Kazakhstan;
- Elvira Azimova, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Republic of Kazakhstan;
- Roza Akylbekova, Deputy Head of Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law;
- Nurlan Biyekenov, Head of Kostanay Academy of the Ministry of Interior Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan;
- Violetta Krasnikova, UNICEF specialist on Child Rights;
- Shahnoza Hassanova, Director of the Public Foundation «Legal Center for Women’s Initiatives ‘Sana Sezim’».
Other participants included: representatives of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Kazakhstan, Capstone project experts from the Netherlands (Professor Miranda Boone from Leiden University and Assistant Professor Pauline Jacobs from Utrecht University), national experts, representatives of state bodies of the Republic of Kazakhstan, representatives of civil society, as well as administration, teaching staff and students of M.Utemisov University.
The results were counted by the members of the Capstone Project Monitoring Commission:
- Zhanna Nazarova, Regional Programme Manager, Penal Reform International (PRI) in Central Asia;
- Malika Tastanova, Senior Lecturer of the Department of International Law at KAZGUU University named after M.S.Narikbayev.
Seven research projects on the following topics were presented by the participants:
- Adoption of Kazakhstani children by foreign citizens
- The rights of labour migrants in Kazakhstan: reality and perspective
- Euthanasia: the right to die
- Improving the probation service of the Republic of Kazakhstan
- The problem of employment of people in prisons
- Alternative measures and perspective for the development of the penitentiary system of the Republic of Kazakhstan
- Improving mechanisms for combating torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
The results of the Final Presentation are as follows:
Winners in nominations
- The Most Topical Issue – Team 2: Aldiyar Bikeyev, Irina Karasseva, Anastasiya Badeyeva with their research work on ‘The rights of labor migrants in Kazakhstan: reality and perspective’. The members of the Review Committee noted the issue is topical given the growing number of labour migrants all over the world, and also the difficulties that persons belonging to working migrant communities are currently facing because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Most Innovative Idea – Team 3: Alina Krivoruchko, Aqnur Oralbayeva, Andrey Komissarenko with the research on ‘Euthanasia: right to die’. The members of the Review Committee decided that it was courageous to choose the topic, which has not been studied in Kazakhstan, and elsewhere in the world. The fact that students raised such an issue already makes their project and recommendations innovative, especially for Kazakhstan.
- The Best Speaker – receiving equal scores by the Review Committee, two speakers were chosen: Elmira Isterekova from Team 1 with the research on the ‘Adoption of Kazakhstani children by foreign citizens’ and Quandyq Izbassarov from Team 6 with the research on ‘Alternative measures and perspective for the development of the penitentiary system of the Republic of Kazakhstan’.
The winning team – by unanimous decision of the members of the Review Committee (for both, research paper and oral presentation), Team 5: Alina Zhumartova, Gulnara Zubchenko and Aynara Kulymzhan with the research work on ‘The problem of employment of people in prisons’ won the fourth edition of the Capstone research competition.
Due to global travel restrictions it was decided by the project organizers that this year winners will visit the Netherlands on a study tour in 2021 together with the winners of the next ‘Capstone Project’ edition. All Capstone Project participants are awarded Certificates of participation and commemorative gifts that will be sent to them by post.