Crackdown on Christians, Muslims and Jehovah's Witnesses in Kazakhstan

An Orthodox priest conducts a blessing in front of the Soyuz MS spacecraft for the next International Space Station crew of Kate Rubins of the US, Anatoly Ivanishin of Russia and Takuya Onishi of Japan, at the launchpad at the Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan earlier this month.Reuters

Kazakhstan has misled the human rights watchdogs about its record on freedom of religion, according to a report today.

Four days after the UN Human Rights Committee examined the country, Kazakhstan fined three more people for exercising their freedom, according to Felix Corley of Forum 18.

Delegates from Kazakhstan to the committee claimed last month just eight people had been punished this year for violating the country's strict laws on religion, but the true number is believed to be more than twice that at about 20.

Kazhakstan introduced strict restrictions on practising non-recognised faiths and in 2012 cut the number of recognised faiths from nearly 50 to just 17.

Those most affected are Muslims, Protestant Christians and Jehovah's Witnesses who can be punished for offering religious literature the state has not approved in places the state has not permitted, talking about their beliefs with other people without state permission, or meeting for worship without state permission.

Among those penalised in the latest actions, two shop owners were fined for having religious literature in their shops without state permission and banned from running their businesses for three months. A Baptist has been jailed for refusing to pay a fine imposed earlier. Increasing numbers of Muslims and Christians are in jail and have had their bank accounts blocked. Three Muslims were fined in the last few days for going door to door to talk to people about their beliefs and inviting them to a mosque.