Kazakhstan - Articles
Independent editor Igor Vinyavsky, who was jailed on politically motivated charges of inciting hatred in Kazakhstan, has been released - in large part due to the efforts of IFEX members, reports the International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech in Kazakhstan (Adil Soz).
Igor Vinyavsky, the editor-in-chief of one of the last remaining independent national newspapers in Kazakhstan, has a long history of being a thorn in the side of the Kazakh government. So IFEX members called his detention last month by Kazakhstan's security services "politically motivated." Adil Soz and 28 other IFEX members are rallying together for his release - and to draw attention to the growing trend of silencing those critical of the government in the wake of violent protests in Zhanaozen last December.
Kazakhstan is planning to make good on improving the country's free expression situation - a promise it made to secure the 2010 chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation (OSCE), an OSCE politician told a delegation from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) last week. But with free expression having actually deteriorated in the past few years, the outlook is bleak, say CPJ and the International Press Institute (IPI).
IFEX members in Central Asia marked the International Day for Solidarity of Journalists on 8 September with a variety of events, including a sports competition, a report on press freedom and a candle-lighting ceremony to honour fallen journalists. In Kazakhstan, Adil Soz, the International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech, attempted to unite government and opposition journalists and challenge public officials with a report of attacks on the press. And in Kyrgyzstan, Public Association "Journalists" (PAJ) also focused on strengthening ties between government and opposition journalists to counter divisions created by the newspapers that are linked to different political parties.
A Kazakh newspaper routinely harassed for its coverage of government policies, human rights abuses and corruption has been fined US$400,000 and handed a distribution ban, report the Almaty-based Adil Soz - International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech, the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-IFRA) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
Kazakhstan's parliament has passed amendments to its communications law that would make it possible for bloggers to be jailed for their work and online media to be shuttered, report Adil Soz, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and other concerned organisations.
Twenty-two IFEX members led by Kazakh member Adil Soz have written to Kazakhstan's Parliamentarians urging them to decriminalise libel and adopt other amendments to the country's media laws.
How do the media in Central Asia cover acts of terrorism? There's a widespread belief that they act as a "dangerous liaison", spreading fear by publicising terrorists' demands, and making gains in circulation by reporting in a sensational manner. But this is not the case, says a pioneering study by the International Media Support (IMS) and its partners, the International Foundation for the Protection of the Freedom of Speech in Kazakhstan (Adil Soz) and the Public Association "Journalists" in Kyrgyzstan.
Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan have agreed to a media exchange that may prompt the Turkmen authorities to relax tight media controls, reports News Briefing (NB) Central Asia, as service of the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR).
A lack of professional training and a fear of being punished for their writing remain serious problems for journalists in multicultural Kazakhstan, says Adil Soz in a new book.
The President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, has signed into law a bill that gives the government vast powers to shut down independent and opposition media outlets, a move harshly criticised by Adil Soz, ARTICLE 19, the World Association of Newspapers (WAN), Freedom House, the International Press Institute (IPI), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ).
Prospects for free and fair presidential elections in Kazakhstan in December are waning amid moves by authorities to quash freedom of expression and silence independent media and civil society groups, warns Human Rights Watch.
Journalists and press freedom advocates in Kazakhstan who face legal harassment because of their work now have access to an important reference tool, thanks to the International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech (Adil Soz).
Reporters Without Borders (Reporters sans frontierès, RSF) has urged the government of Kazakhstan to launch an investigation into the death of Askhat Sharipzhanov, a journalist for an independent online news publication who was hit by a car on 16 July 2004.
Amidst deteriorating press-freedom conditions in Kazakhstan, four IFEX members are warning that a draft media law being considered by the country's Senate will give the government greater powers to clamp down on the independent media.
A proposed media law introduced by the Kazakhstani government contains provisions that stray so far from international standards on press freedom that it is difficult not to see it as an attempt to control and intimidate the media, warns the International Press Institute (IPI). In a report released on 14 July, IPI says the "Law Concerning Mass Media" is flawed and should be reviewed in an open process involving local journalists and international organisations.
A jailed Kazakhstani journalist was among five individuals honoured last month by the International League for Human Rights (ILHR) for reporting in the face of danger. At an awards ceremony on 9 December, ILHR saluted the individuals "who day-in and day-out choose to do the right thing against all odds."
The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe's (OSCE) Media Representative, Freimut Duve, is calling on the government of Kazakhstan to investigate attacks on the media and ensure journalists' safety, amidst an increasing number of violent incidents against the press in recent months. In a special report delivered at a conference on press freedom in Almaty last week, the OSCE representative said conditions had "consistently deteriorated" in the last few months. He highlighted a series of incidents in which media and journalists have been attacked, and media outlets shut down [See IFEX "Communiqu%26#233;" #11-21
]. ">http://communique.ifex.org/articles.cfm?system_id=4579">"Communiqué" #11-21].
Concerns over press-freedom conditions in Kazakhstan have been raised following attacks against two opposition newspapers and an independent television station in the city of Almaty. On 22 May, individuals threw Molotov cocktails into the offices of "Delovoye Obozreniye Respublika" setting fire to the premises and destroying the newspaper's technical equipment, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reports. No one was injured in the attack.
On 5 October, Human Rights Watch (HRW) charged that the Kazakh government employed tactics