By Laura Suleimenova
The International Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee headquartered in Geneva for the fourth time recognized that its provisions are not observed in Kazakhstan.
To recall, Kazakhstan ratified the Aarhus Convention on access to information, public involvement in decision-making and access to justice on environmental issues in 2000.
The first acknowledgement of the document's violation was made in February 2005 - upon a complaint from Zelyonoye Spaseniye, an ecology association, about Kazatomprom not providing data.
Ever since, the convention has been breached another three times, one of them in 2013.
The matter is about Article 6 that provides timely and effective notification of the public.
As for Aarhus compliance in Atyrau, environmentalists had numerously noted that all information on major projects used to be submitted literally a few days before public hearings, and the public would be informed 15 minutes before a hearing starts.
The recent hearing on environmental impact assessment of "Second Tier Second Phase of Kazakhstan-China oil pipeline construction: Atyrau Kenkiyak and Kenkiyak-Kumkol section" is an example.
Another case is the late statement of Zhumageldy Yelyubayev, a Chevron legal adviser and president of Kazakh association of lawyers in oil and gas sector, during a law conference held in the TCO office in Atyrau.
He said he was "against participation of non-qualified, virtually "from street" public in public hearings."
Ecologists in Atyrau believe Mr Yelyubayev's words contradict the Aarhus Convention, where it provides that "every side is rightful to partake in decision-making processes on issues related to environment," and Article 4 of the RoK Constitution - "international agreements ratified by the Republic have priority before its laws and are applied directly," and Article 13, Part 2 of the RoK Environmental Code that envisages the right of individuals to take part in a decision-making on issues related to environment.
In conclusion, the instruction #204-п of the ministry of environmental protection dated 28.06.2007 provides that "public opinion is formed through participation of the public in preparation and discussion of environmental impact assessment materials, which is arranged by an orderer of business or other activity planned."