17 February 2004
ARTICLE 19 analysis of latest media law draft
(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - The following is a 16 February 2004 ARTICLE 19 press release:
ARTICLE 19 CRITIQUES LATEST KAZAKH MEDIA LAW DRAFT
ARTICLE 19 today released an analysis of the latest draft of the Kazakh Mass Media Law (1), updating our analysis of September 2003 (2). Despite claims to the contrary by the Kazakh authorities, the draft Law represents a serious step backwards in terms of respect for freedom of expression in Kazakhstan. The changes since September have further exacerbated, rather than addressed this problem.
The current draft retains most of the serious problems found in the draft we analysed in September 2003, including:
* a number of vague, unacceptably broad restrictions on the content of what may be published or broadcast, including a prohibition on false news, widely recognised to be illegitimate;
* a registration scheme which extends to a very wide range of publications/broadcasters, including the Internet, which subjects registration to substantive conditions and which is overseen by a body which lacks independence from the government;
* must carry requirements which oblige the media to publish/broadcast official communications from State authorities; and
* incorporation by reference of a number of other laws which themselves fail to respect the right to freedom of expression.
The latest draft not only includes these problems but has also incorporated new provisions which further breach the right to freedom of expression. Some of our more serious new concerns with the latest draft include:
* a new, excessively broad prohibition on 'pre-judging trials';
* extension of the right of refutation to any material which contains "analysis or evaluation of imperfect activities of public agencies or officials"; and
* the possibility of journalists having their accreditation withdrawn for publishing/broadcasting material which "which derogates honour and dignity of the government agencies, public associations and organizations that accredited him/her".
ARTICLE 19 considers that the introduction of this law would represent a major setback for media freedom in Kazakhstan. We urge the Kazakh authorities to withdraw the proposed Law from consideration and, instead, to put in place a process for reform of existing laws restricting freedom of expression.
1. The analysis is available on the ARTICLE 19 website at: http://www.article19.org/docimages/1723.doc
2. The September analysis is available at: http://www.article19.org/docimages/1669.zip