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CPJ calls for investigation of harassment of journalists during elections

Authorities of Kyrgyzstan should investigate the harassment of journalists covering elections and ensure that members of the press can work freely and safely, the Committee to Protect Journalists said in a statement.

According to news reports and representatives of the involved media organizations, on April 11 police officers detained at least four journalists covering voting in Kyrgyzstan’s local elections and a nationwide constitutional referendum, and election onlookers attacked at least one reporter.

«If Kyrgyzstan’s elections are to be seen as free, fair, and legitimate, journalists must be able to cover them freely and without fear of detention and harassment,» said CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator, Gulnoza Said. «Kyrgyz authorities must investigate the police detentions of journalists Bekmyrza Isakov, Aliyma Alymova, Ayarbek Joldoshbayev, and Aijan Avazbekova, and ensure all members of the press can cover events of national significance freely and safely.»

In the southern city of Osh, a group of men and women confronted Bekmyrza Isakov and Aliyma Alymova, correspondents for the independent news website Kloop, while they were trying to interview a group of women voters at a polling place.

Police in Osh also detained Ayarbek Joldoshbayev, a reporter with the independent news website Eldik.media, while he was filming at another polling station. The police told Joldoshbayev that he did not have permission from the polling station’s chairman to film at the location, and took him to the local police station.

According to Kyrgyz laws on elections and referenda, members of the media have the right to film within polling stations.