Kazakhstan's Path to Law Enforcement Integrity

The proposed legislation will provide a comprehensive framework for integrity tests among law enforcers. Photo credit: ADB.

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Proactive integrity checks can improve public trust in law enforcement agencies and advance societal development.



Research has consistently ranked law enforcement among the most corrupt public services. Kazakhstan—with its relatively high perception of corruption among law enforcement agencies—is ranked among the lowest globally in corruption perception indices.[1]

The relatively high perceptions of corruption in Kazakhstan's law enforcement agencies, known as everyday corruption, continuously erode public trust in authorities, hamper citizens' compliance with laws, and undermine public order.[2] Corruption persists due to inadequate oversight, culture of tolerance, and administrative barriers to accountability. In addition, lack of clear explanations to citizens and a weak process compound corruption risks. This environment necessitates using proactive tools to detect misconduct in law enforcement agencies.

Adopting proactive integrity checks in Kazakhstan is seen as a novel solution to improve trust in law enforcement agencies. Integrity checks, which are widely used internationally, simulate scenarios to test officials' adherence to ethical standards and procedures. These offer a preventive approach, distinguishing them from reactive anti-corruption methods.

Recognizing its potential, Kazakhstan’s Anti-Corruption Agency mobilized support from the Asian Development Bank’s Knowledge and Experience Exchange Program to review best international practices and develop a new legislation, which incorporates integrity testing within the operations of law enforcement agencies.

Law on Professional Integrity Testing

Developing and enacting a special legislation outlining the principles and procedures for conducting professional integrity testing would be an effective measure to combat corruption among law enforcement officers.

The Law on Professional Integrity Testing has been drafted and posted on public domain for the discussions. Once adopted, it would impose responsibilities while protecting the rights of both the individuals undergoing testing and the inspectors conducting the tests. It would also specify the officials who will be subject to inspection, outline the measures of responsibility for the test results, and address other relevant issues. This approach offers essential guarantees for the protection of the civil servants’ rights and introduce preventive mechanisms to mitigate potential abuses by inspectors.

The law will provide a comprehensive and structured framework for conducting professional integrity testing—addressing all legal and procedural aspects of the institution. It would also help prevent regulatory gaps and inconsistencies. By legislating professional integrity testing procedures, a more transparent and accountable process can be established, improving the overall integrity of law enforcement officers and the agencies they represent.

Expected Benefits

The proposed solution holds significant potential benefits for various facets of society.

Social development. The integrity tests can be a strong tool in combatting corruption within law enforcement agencies. The establishment of a mechanism for professional integrity testing is expected to diminish the perceived level of corruption, enhancing public trust in these institutions. This, in turn, will contribute to a safer environment and encourage active citizen participation in maintaining public order, fostering an environment conducive to social progress.

Entrepreneurship development. The professional integrity testing is expected to reduce the risks entrepreneurs face related to corruption issues involving law enforcement agencies. This will likely translate to fewer unforeseen costs for businesses and a more favorable atmosphere for sustainable development.

Better perception of government. The law is expected to positively influence all government bodies. Instilling greater public confidence in law enforcement agencies would extend to the Kazakhstan government as a whole.

The anticipated outcomes from the adoption of the integrity tests are promising, especially since the absence of a mechanism for detecting dishonest practices within law enforcement agencies is evident. The implementation of professional integrity testing will proactively identify and discourage unlawful and unethical behavior, thereby promoting a cultural shift towards greater accountability and ethical conduct.

As a result, initial stages of implementation are likely to witness increased detections and sanctions, while later phases may lead to fewer instances. The law is also expected to encourage law enforcement officials to report attempts at bribery. This, coupled with the introduction of criminal liability for offering bribes, will foster a culture of respect for the law and ethical conduct among employees and the public alike.

Next Steps

Boosted by government’s strong ownership of the integrity testing approach, the proposed legislation for this has garnered significant support from relevant executive bodies and is set to be presented to the Parliament in early 2024.

To ensure the effective implementation of the professional integrity testing mechanism, the following crucial steps are needed:

  • Execute information support program. Develop and approve a comprehensive program for disseminating information and clearly explaining the new law to the public.
  • Enact supporting bylaws and regulations. Create and approve specific instructions along with standardized forms for consistent application of the law.
  • Set clear responsibilities. Issue relevant departmental orders within state bodies to organize inspections and designate responsible individuals for oversight.
  • Commence tester selection and training. Choose and train testers thoroughly on procedures, methods, tools, and their roles during professional integrity testing.
  • Develop scenarios. Formulate scenarios for integrity audits, adaptable to different organizations and situations.
  • Establish transparent reporting mechanisms. Issue guidance notes and monitor the submissions of reports on information programs and achievement of target indicators to relevant authorities.

These measures are vital to foster transparency, accountability, and public trust within Kazakhstan's law enforcement sector, ultimately contributing to the nation's continued development.

[1] Transparency International. 2022. Corruption Perceptions Index.
World Justice Project. 2023. WJP Rule of Law Index.

[2] According to data from the Bureau of National Statistics of Kazakhstan for 2019–2023, perception of corruption remains the main reason for distrust in law enforcement agencies (more than 32%–38%).

Saltanat Yunussova
Knowledge Work Coordinator (Consultant), Asian Development Bank

Saltanat Yunussova is an expert in project management with focus on governance, economics and education policy. She has successfully managed over 50 knowledge initiatives at the Asian Development Bank and has handled broad scope of projects under the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, UNICEF, UNESCO, World Bank, and Kazakhstan’s leading think tanks. She holds degrees from University of Konstanz and University of Science and Technology Beijing. 


Nazgul Yergaliyeva
Consultant, Asian Development Bank

Nazgul Yergaliyeva is an expert in institutional reforms of justice-related institutions, including the police, prosecution, and judiciary. Previously, she held positions in international organizations and was head of the Kazakhstani nongovernment organization Legal Policy Research Center. She holds a Master’s in Human Rights Law from Central European University, and a MSc in Public Policy from the University College London.

Asian Development Bank (ADB)

The Asian Development Bank is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. Established in 1966, it is owned by 68 members—49 from the region. Its main instruments for helping its developing member countries are policy dialogue, loans, equity investments, guarantees, grants, and technical assistance.

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