BISHKEK (TCA) — The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Harlem Désir, on April 27 welcomed a number of positive steps for media freedom in Kyrgyzstan.
“I welcome the recent decision by the President of Kyrgyzstan Sooronbai Jeenbekov to drop all financial claims against journalist Kabai Karabekov. The journalist was facing severe financial hardship following a conviction for defamation. This sets an important example for public officials,” said Désir.
The Representative recalled that Kabai Karabekov, journalist for the 24.kg news agency was sued for defamation in 2017 by then presidential candidate Sooronbai Jeenbekov. “I call on the authorities of Kyrgyzstan to make another step and drop financial claims against Naryn Ayyp and Zanoza.kg, as excessive damages in defamation suits have a chilling effect on freedom of the media,” added Désir.
“I also welcome the fact that both the executive and judiciary authorities in Kyrgyzstan have taken important positive decisions to uphold media freedom. Most notably that on 24 April the Parliament withdrew a draft law on the minimum rate of damages in defamation cases and that on 15 April the criminal case against journalist Elnura Alkanova, who was accused of breaching bank secrecy and illegally obtaining information, was dropped,” said Désir.
The Representative raised the case of Elnura Alkanova with the authorities of Kyrgyzstan in February 2018.
“It is important that this positive trend continues as there is more to be done to ensure media freedom in the country,” concluded Désir.