Civil society in Kazakhstan flourished following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the Government of Kazakhstan has shown some willingness to engage with the sector, including by consulting on proposed legislation. However, recent years have seen these gains come under serious threat. Legislation has been used to severely curtail freedoms of association, assembly and expression, with those seeking to exercise their rights facing investigation and arrest, judicial harassment, and arbitrary detention, as well as physical and verbal threats. 2016 has seen a serious crackdown on peaceful protests in particular.