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HRW: President-elect should make rights a priority

Kyrgyz President-elect Sooronbai Jeenbekov should demonstrate from the outset that he intends to put human rights front and center when he takes office in December. Human Rights Watch said in its statement.

In organization’s opinion, Jeenbekov’s government should reverse the human rights backsliding that accelerated in the months leading up to the presidential election, reaffirm the importance of an independent media, and respect the important role of independent groups and activists.

A competitive presidential election took place in Kyrgyzstan, but concerns expressed by election monitors, including about media restrictions, underscore the continued need for reforms

Mihra Rittmann, Central Asia researcher at Human Rights Watch

The president-elect should set out how he intends to guarantee human rights in his domestic policies when he takes office, she believes.

According to the human rights organization, the future president will face a number of human rights problems that need to be addressed. These include the deteriorating environment for media freedom and human rights activism, and the wrongful imprisonment of the human rights defender Azimzhan Askarov.

The new government should move promptly to free Askarov from his life sentence, to carry out a ruling of the UN Human Rights Committee, in accordance with Kyrgyzstan’s international obligations.

The government should also stop bringing unfounded lawsuits against media that criticize the government, and instead ensure that both journalists and human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan can work without fear of reprisal or harassment.

Human Rights Watch recommends the president-elect should also make it a priority to address the longstanding issue of ill-treatment and torture in places of detention, to eliminate the country’s persistent domestic violence and violence against women.

As the organization stated, Jeenbekov has said that he will continue his predecessor’s policies and that his task is «to preserve what has been achieved and strengthen what has been started.»

«Strengthening what has been started means building on areas of human rights progress, and in equal measure, bringing an end to rights-violating practices,» Rittmann said. «Jeenbekov has an important opportunity to address head-on existing human rights problems, and to set a meaningful human rights agenda for his time in office.»