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Kyrgyz Republic (Kyrgyzstan): Proposed Amendment to Media Law

(Feb. 4, 2015) According to a January 30, 2015, report, Kyrgyzstan is considering amendments to its media legislation that would strengthen the ability of the government to take steps against media outlets. The news came in a statement by Emir Zulpuev, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Justice. The amendments would allow the government to close media businesses’ outlets in several situations, including after the death of the owner if there is no legal successor, if the company has been liquidated, or if the owner loses legal status as an entrepreneur. Media companies would have to report to the Ministry of Justice if they change their editors in chief. Zulpuev also noted that the proposed legislation would authorize the Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism to sue media outlets if there are public complaints about them. (Ashley Hogan, Kyrgyzstan Considering Legislation Allowing Government to Shut Down Media Outlets, PAPER CHASE (Jan. 30, 2015); Kyrgyzstan Seeks Stronger Power to Shut Media Outlets, RADIO FREE EUROPE RADIO LIBERTY (Jan. 30, 2015).)

Media rights advocates have expressed concern that the new legislation would be used to suppress opposition media. (Kyrgyzstan Seeks Stronger Power to Shut Media Outlets, supra.) Kyrgyzstan has already been criticized for restrictions on media. The U.S. State Department notes that current Kyrgyz law “places significant restrictions on television and radio broadcast companies and establishes Kyrgyz-language and local content requirements. … some anonymous media sources alleged that some news outlets received ‘requests’ from offices of the government to report in a particular way or to ignore news stories.” (Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013: Kyrgyz Republic, COUNTRY REPORTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS [select country from drop-down menu] (last visited Feb. 2, 2015).)