Kyrgyz President urged to scrap ‘foreign representatives’ bill

Human Rights Watch calls on Kyrgyz President to scrap ‘foreign representatives’ bill




President of Kyrgyzstan Sadyr Japarov should support the country’s non-governmental sector and withdraw an unlawful ‘foreign representatives’ bill aimed at silencing Kyrgyzstan’s active and vocal civil society, the international human rights organisation Human Rights Watch has claimed.

The bill calls for CSOs who receive foreign funding and engage in vaguely defined ‘political activities’ to be placed on a special register of ‘foreign representatives’, as well as to label all their publications as having been ‘produced and distributed by a non-profit organisation acting as a foreign representative’ or as having been ‘produced and distributed by a non-profit organisation acting for the benefit of its foreign sponsors’. The proposal is similar to the Russian law which has been condemned by the European Court of Human Rights as violating multiple rights, including those to freedom of association and freedom of speech.

‘The protection of vulnerable groups’ rights is a legitimate activity that the government should support, not hinder. Kyrgyzstan has signed numerous international and regional treaties which confirm that seeking resources from national, international and foreign sources is an integral part of the right to freedom of association’, claimed CEO of Human Rights Watch Tirana Hassan.


The bill defines ‘political activity’ as any activity relating to the organisation of public events or direct action, participation in electoral processes, agitation in state bodies or the dissemination of opinions via ‘modern information technologies’ which seek to influence the public’s social and political views.


According to Human Rights Watch, such an overly broad definition of political activity poses a serious threat to the right of non-governmental and non-profit organisations to freely pursue their legitimate activities, including protection of diverse populations, civic education and monitoring and expressing concerns about the civil and political situation in the country.

As human rights activists note, labelling non-governmental organisations in receipt of foreign funding as ‘foreign representatives’ further stigmatises Kyrgyzstan’s civil society and human rights activists.


“Kyrgyzstan’s government should consider civil society organisations, grassroots movements and human rights activists allies in the building of a prosperous and inclusive society, and provide an environment that facilitates and promotes diversity of opinion and freedom of association. President Japarov should withdraw the bill and guarantee continued freedom and openness to Kyrgyzstan’s diverse civil society,” added Tirana Hassan.


As reported, on 14 March, Kyrgyzstan’s Supreme Council adopted the ‘foreign agents’ bill in the third reading – ‘foreign representative’ being comparable to Russian legislation’s ‘foreign agent’. Officially, the bill is known as the draft law ‘On Amendments to the Law ‘On Non-Profit Organisations’.






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