Thu, 13 May 2021

Human Rights Watch (HRW) has urged Kyrgyz President Sooronbai Jeenbekov 'to uphold fundamental rights' and veto laws recently approved by parliament that 'violate the country's human rights obligations.'

HRW said in a statement on June 30 that Kyrgyz lawmakers adopted 'a vague and overbroad' bill last week that would allow the authorities, without judicial oversight, to order the removal of information from the Internet that officials consider 'false' or 'inaccurate.'

Under the bill, which will come into force after Jeenbekov signs it into law, authorities will also not be required to get court backing to shut down social-media accounts deemed misleading.

Parliament also removed a provision from the Criminal Procedural Code that obligates Kyrgyz courts to reconsider criminal cases in which an international human rights body has found a violation.

'Given the vague wording and the lack of judicial oversight, the information law's threat to freedom of speech and the media cannot be overstated,' said Mihra Rittmann, senior Central Asia researcher at HRW. 'Allowing this bill -- or the amendments to the Criminal Procedural Code blunting the impact of international remedies -- to enter into force would be a significant and regrettable step backward for Kyrgyzstan.'

The HRW statement comes a day after some 500 demonstrators rallied in the capital, Bishkek, protesting the legislation. As early as last week, several domestic and international organizations were urging Jeenbekov to reject the bill.

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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