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President of Kyrgyzstan asked to voice his position on freedom of speech

On the eve of the World Press Freedom Day, marked on May 3, Media Policy Institute addressed the President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbai Jeenbekov.

Media experts welcome the recent decision of the head of state to withdraw material claims within the suit on protection of honor and dignity, where journalist Kabai Karabekov was the defendant.

We expect that this step will serve as an important example for public figures, especially government officials.

Media Policy Institute

«Before the World Press Freedom Day, we encourage you to review the situation in the country regarding the freedom of the press, as well as declare your commitment to the principles of press freedom and support for measures to protect the media from attempts to undermine freedom of the press,» the statement says.

«2017 is remembered by unprecedented amount of moral compensations on claims of the Prosecutor General to defend the honor and dignity of the president for a total amount of 60 million soms. These claims became possible due to the legislative norm in the Law of the Kyrgyz Republic «On guarantees of the activities of the President of the Kyrgyz Republic». It formed the prosecutor’s office based system for the prosecution of the media for any statements about the head of state that the prosecutor deems defamatory. In fact, such powers of the prosecutor’s office have turned the state structure, supervising the observance of legality, into the censoring body,» the mediators stressed.

However, this rule contradicts the Constitution, which does not provide for special privileges for top officials that distinguish them from «ordinary» citizens.

Media Policy Institute

«It is important to understand that mistakes can be made by even the best specialists of all professions, including journalism, but responsibility must comply with the principle of proportionality and necessity in a democratic society. Disproportionate punishment will deter journalists from prompt bringing of socially significant information to the public,» the experts say.

«We call you to publicly announce your position on the Law «On guarantees of activity of the President of the Kyrgyz Republic,» providing for the obligation of Prosecutor General to defend the honor of the head of state through the courts, resulting in a disproportionate, unfair restrictions on freedom of expression and putting extra pressure on the courts,» mediators addressed Sooronbai Jeenbekov.