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UN concerned at searches, detention of journalists in Kyrgyzstan

UN Human Rights Office spokesperson Liz Throssell commented on the searches in the media, as well as the detention of journalists in Kyrgyzstan.

«We are concerned at developments in Kyrgyzstan where on Monday and Tuesday authorities searched the premises of several independent media outlets and temporarily detained 14 journalists for questioning,» the statement says.

These latest actions by the authorities appear to be part of a larger pattern of pressure against civil society activists, journalists and other critics of the authorities. Arrest or detention as punishment for the legitimate exercise of human rights, including freedom of expression, is arbitrary under international human rights law," Liz Throssell stressed.

As noted, in this context, it is all the more concerning that the Kyrgyz Parliament is considering a draft law on mass media, which would restrict the right to freedom of expression which includes media freedom.

«We call on the authorities to protect freedom of expression and ensure that media legislation in the country is in line with international human rights standards,» the UN Human Rights Office spokesperson said.

Employees of the State Committee for National Security also came to the office of 24.kg news agency on January 16 at about 11 a.m. General Director Asel Otorbaeva, Editors-in-Chief Anton Lymar and Makhinur Niyazova were taken for interrogation.

Equipment and personal mobile phones of employees were confiscated.

The SCNS said that the search at 24.kg news agency was conducted as part of a criminal case under the article «Propaganda of War» of the Criminal Code of the Kyrgyz Republic.

In addition, on January 16, the office of Temirov Live was searched and editorial equipment was confiscated. The police searched homes and detained 11 current and former employees of the media outlet.

Shortly after the searches began, the Interior Ministry issued a statement announcing that, as a result of «forensic linguistic examination» of content found on the social media pages of Temirov Live and Ait Ait Dese on December 30, criminal proceedings had been initiated against them under article 278, part 3 of the Criminal Code for «calling for riots.»