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Amnesty International: Draft NGO law poses threat to thriving civil society

Draft NGO law poses a grave threat to thriving civil society in Kyrgyzstan. The international human rights organization Amnesty International said in a statement.

«We are disappointed that these unnecessarily restrictive amendments to existing NGO legislation were passed at the bill’s first reading. We strongly urge parliament to weigh up the socio-economic benefits to Kyrgyzstan of a thriving civil society and reconsider the impact these amendments will have on NGOs’ ability to offer vital support to all people in accessing their rights,» Maisy Weicherding, Amnesty International’s Central Asia Researcher, said.

The human rights activists are also deeply concerned that the proposed amendments impose the compulsory labels ‘foreign representative’ and ‘Foreign NGO’ (FNGO) for NGOs that receive foreign funding, along with burdensome reporting requirements.

A thriving civil society able to operate freely and without fear is an invaluable and irreplaceable asset to any country.

Maisy Weicherding

As the organization notes, these terms have been exploited to severely constrain NGOs and impose increased levels of state control over their work. They have also been used to stigmatize their activities, putting them at risk of attacks and preventing them from giving essential support to some of the most vulnerable individuals in society.

«A thriving civil society able to operate freely and without fear is an invaluable and irreplaceable asset to any country, especially in the face of economic and climate crises. Parliament should categorically reject the amendments in its second reading,» the human rights activists stress.

The Parliament of Kyrgyzstan adopted in the first reading changes to the Law on NGOs and the Criminal Code, initiated by Nadira Narmatova and a group of deputies, which provide for the introduction of the concept of «foreign representative» (analogue to a foreign agent in Russian legislation).

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