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Journalists of Kyrgyzstan offer parties to sign agreement on freedom of speech

Kyrgyz journalists speak for dialogue with political parties participating in the 2020 parliamentary elections to improve the situation.

According to the initiators of the agreement, through joint efforts the media sector can contribute to strengthening freedom of speech, independence of the media and the Internet in Kyrgyzstan.

«We all witnessed the latest legislative initiatives of the Parliament of the sixth convocation and the actions of law enforcement agencies that negatively influenced and still affect the work of the media sector. There are fears that this trend will be continued by the next convocation of the Parliament,» the initiators commented.

The freedom of speech agreement, prepared by an initiative group of representatives of the media sector, has already been supported by leading media and journalists, non-governmental organizations, bloggers, mediators and experts.

«Over 29 years of Kyrgyzstan’s sovereignty, the country has periodically made attempts to legally restrict freedom of speech, introduce additional restrictions for the media and citizens. Physical and moral pressure on journalists, bloggers, users of social media and just active citizens becomes the norm. Attempts to restrict freedom of speech were associated with intentions:

— To prevent detection and wide discussion of social, economic and political problems significant for society;

— To hide from society that the state is under pressure from a few groups of influence to the detriment of broad layers of citizens;

— To create mechanisms to protect hidden privileges, corruption schemes and «shadow» flows;

— To limit the possibilities of citizens to really influence politics and demand from the political elite to protect and promote their rights and freedoms.

Representatives of the media sector are clearly aware that the restriction of freedom of speech has a negative impact on the development of Kyrgyzstan, and believe that right now, in the run-up to the elections, the agreement and interaction of political parties and the media sector will help overcome this vicious practice,» the agreement says.

Media representatives urge parties to take responsibility for ensuring freedom of speech, democracy and human rights.

Joining the treaty on freedom of expression supports the following:

● New laws and regulations passed by Parliament should encourage and promote development of freedom of speech;

● Public elected (political) persons, state and municipal employees may be subject to reasonable criticism for their activities or inaction;

● Prevent the practice of using law enforcement and judicial authorities to restrict freedom of speech, including prosecution for comments on social media and other Internet resources;

● To guarantee citizens’ access to receiving versatile information, creating conditions for the free operation of the media and social media;

● Restore norms protecting freedom of speech and journalists, including those that provide for liability for violations of legislation on access to information;

● Ensure mandatory examination and analysis of the regulatory impact of draft laws in the field of media and freedom of speech;

● Ensure obligatory participation of representatives of independent media and experts in the field of media and freedom of speech in the development of normative legal acts regulating the media sector;

● Adopt norms that ensure introduction of media literacy skills in educational programs of secondary and higher professional education;

● To encourage adoption of regulatory legal acts aimed at the development of market relations in the media sphere;

●To introduce the mechanism of state social order for the production and distribution of national media content;

●To ensure the transparency and publicity of the procedure for compiling a social package for TV channels and / or radio channels of digital terrestrial broadcasting in the Kyrgyz Republic (selection criteria should be developed jointly with representatives of independent media and experts in the field of media and freedom of speech);

● To continue the reform of state media;

● To create legal protection for the media, government agencies and citizens from cyber attacks and threats (DOS \ DDOS and others);

● To ensure equality of Kyrgyz and foreign media in creation and distribution of at least 50 percent of TV and radio broadcasts of domestic production and in the state language, including through the adaptation of the content of foreign channels by local network partners;

● To introduce norms establishing, as soon as possible, consideration by state bodies, local self-government bodies and other organizations with the participation of the state, requests for access to information received from representatives of the media sector;
● To provide journalists and other representatives of the media sector with access to information during state of emergency and emergency situation.

Realizing the importance of ensuring freedom of speech for the democratic development of the country, political parties participating in the 2020 parliamentary elections join the agreement and express their intention to interact with the media sector to protect freedom of speech in Kyrgyzstan," the document says.

On September 24, the initiators of signing of the agreement on freedom of speech intend to meet with representatives of the parties and discuss the problem.

The initiative to protect freedom of speech in Kyrgyzstan was made by Journalists Public Association, the Independent Union of Journalists, and Media Dialogue project.