Activists hope OSCE chairmanship will help improve freedom of speech in Kazakhstan

The Adil Soz freedom of speech foundation has said it hopes the situation with freedom of speech in Kazakhstan will improve after the country takes over the OSCE chairmanship next year.

 

 

"The laws that regulate the work of the media and journalists do not meet international standards to a considerable extent. Today, the republic's Criminal Code includes seven articles on the basis of which journalists can be sent to prison for their professional activities. Insult and libel have not been decriminalized. But the OSCE has an uncompromising principle in this area - journalists cannot be put behind bars for their professional activities," Adil Soz head Tamara Kaleyeva said at a news conference in Almaty on Wednesday.

 

Commenting on the situation within the journalist community, Kaleyeva said that 40 instances of criminal prosecution for publications in the media were registered in January-November 2009, as compared with 20 over the same period last year.

 

"Moreover, the number of civil and legal requirements facing the media and journalists has grown to 146, one-third more than last year," she said.

 

"This statistics is not encouraging and it is getting worse," she added.

 

Kaleyeva said she hoped "earlier convicted journalists will be acquitted or at least amnestied" when Kazakhstan becomes the OSCE chairing country next year.

 

"Four journalists and one writer have recently received prison sentences" in Kazakhstan, she said.

 

Interfax-Kazakhstan

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