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Human rights defenders appeal to EU: media harassment in Kyrgyzstan intensifies

FIDH (International Federation for Human Rights) and its member organizations in Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Movement Bir Duino Kyrgyzstan, Human Rights Protection Centre Kylym Shamy and Legal Clinic Adilet published an open letter to the European Union.

The authors of the letter believe that ahead of the presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan scheduled for autumn 2017, persecution of human rights defenders, journalists and opposition members severely intensified.

FIDH and its member organizations in Kyrgyzstan consider the upcoming EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue on 27 June 2017 in Brussels as a key opportunity for the EU to bring forward recommendations to the Kyrgyz authorities that are crucial for a conducive and peaceful electoral environment and a seamless power change.

«Unfortunately, recent developments in the country give a cause for caution in terms of the stability of the political situation and the consequences of reprisals against independent media and government critics. Harassment of non-governmental organizations and the independent media not only became common but continues to grow," authors of the letter said.

The EU should urge and help the Kyrgyz authorities to:

  • Immediately stop attacks on independent media. The EU should insist that it considers a free and open media environment a sine qua non condition for free and fair elections;
  • End the instrumentation of justice against media, including Internet portals and journalists. The EU should demand the withdrawal of lawsuits against the Internet portal «Zanoza», human rights activists Cholpon Djakupova and Rita Karasartova and journalist Naryn Aiyp. The EU should insist that the bank accounts of Azattyk and Zanoza be unfrozen;
  • Support the work of the Ombudsman of the Kyrgyz Republic;
  • Comply with the resolution of the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan On the judicial practice in resolving disputes on the protection of honour, dignity and business reputation;
  • Bring the Kyrgyz legislation concerning the protection of the President (Law On Guarantees of the Activities of the President of the Kyrgyz Republic) in line with the international standards of freedom of expression;
  • Bring the national legislation regulating defamation (article 329 of the Criminal Code «On false accusation made knowingly») in line with the international standards of freedom of expression;
  • Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders and put an end to any kind of harassment — including at the judicial level — against them;
  • Abolish excessive control and unjustified interference with NGO activities, as well as intimidation and persecution of people and groups working with issues of human rights;
  • Fully implement the decisions and recommendations of United Nations in the case of human rights defender Azimjan Askarov;
  • Comply with the domestic law protecting the physical integrity of lawyers and their independence;
  • Ensure due and impartial investigation of the facts of physical attacks on lawyers and bring those responsible to justice;
  • Ensure due and impartial investigation of claims of torture;
  • Take concrete measures to address discrimination in access to justice and equality of arms concerning members of minorities.

The full version of the document is available here.