Kyrgyzstan: civil society organizations and activists under pressure
May 19, Bishkek: Kyrgyzstan civil society organizations and activists have recently come under a lot of pressure in the country after currently two pending bill in the parliament threaten to seriously undermine the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression and deliver a heavy blow to civil society.
The draft laws on “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” and ”foreign agents” currently pending in the parliament threaten to seriously undermine the rights to freedom of association, assembly and expression and deliver a heavy blow to civil society.
The bill on “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” was approved by in the first reading in the parliament in October 2014, the parliament of International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR)’s Committee decided on 19 May 2015 to submit the “foreign agents” bill for consideration by the whole parliament without adopting any position on it.
In the recent period, civil society groups, activists and lawyers in Kyrgyzstan have also increasingly been subjected to negative and discrediting rhetoric, intimidation and harassment.
The discussion surrounding the problematic draft laws has featured arguments reinforcing suspicion and mistrust against civil society actors, like accusing them of betraying “traditional” national values and posing a threat to national security. Especially those who defend the rights of vulnerable groups, such as ethnic and sexual minorities, have been targeted.
In a case of concern, on April 2015, an NGO (LGBTI) that defends the rights of people was reported in an alleged attempt to set fire on the office of Labrys, Labrys also reported that members of the nationalist-minded movements Kyrk Choro and Kalys attempted to disrupt an event held on the occasion of the International Day against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on 17 May, intimidating and insulting participants.
In another case of concern, on June 2010, a victim of the miscarriage of justice after the inter-ethnic violence that took place in southern Kyrgyzstan, human rights defender Azimjan Askarov continues to serve a life-time sentence, with every day he spends behind bars adding to the injustice in his case. Last year, a new investigation into his case was discontinued. Credible allegations that he was subjected to torture in Pre-trial detention have not been investigated.
In a case of great concern in view of the integrity and confidentiality of the work of lawyers, in late March 2015, security service officials carried out searches of the Osh branch office of the Bir Duino-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Movement, as well as the homes of two of its lawyers in late March 2015, confiscating case material related to dozens of individual cases.
While these searches were deemed unlawful by court last month, all confiscated files have yet to be returned and the officials guilty of wrongdoing held accountable.
Bir Duino and its lawyers continue their struggle to obtain justice in this case, and in a new court decision, on 18 May 2015, the Osh Regional Court found unlawful the failure of a representative of the Osh Prosecutor’s Office to ensure the full return of case material. The Oslo Times