New York, November
30, 2010--Heads of state and high-ranking officials representing 55
participating states of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in
Europe (OSCE) must urge the current OSCE chair, Kazakhstan, to make good on its
press freedom commitments when they meet in Astana for a regional summit this
week, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. CPJ has
repeatedly asked the OSCE to ensure that
"The credibility of the OSCE is on the line. Ignoring
Despite promised democratic reforms, in exchange for which the OSCE granted Kazakhstan the 2010 chairmanship of the regional human rights and security group three years ago, the country has failed to live up to its obligations. Not only did the government renege on promises to decriminalize libel, President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed into law a restrictive 2009 measure governing the Internet, subjecting sites to the repressive regulations that have long governed the traditional press. Nazarbayev also ratified a law that expands privacy rights for government officials that carries penalties that include the closure of media outlets and imprisonment of up to five years for journalists.
Attacks on the press have continued
unabated in 2010, CPJ found during a weeklong fact-finding mission to Almaty in
In mid-October, a CPJ delegation travelled to OSCE's headquarters in Vienna and met with a top Kazakh diplomat, Ambassador Kairat Abdrakhmanov, who currently heads OSCE's permanent council. Abdrakhmanov told CPJ that Kazakhstan is ready to bring its press laws in line with international standards, but he did not commit to a specific timeframe for enacting the necessary reforms, including decriminalizing libel, placing caps on defamation awards, and enacting access-to-information legislation. Abdrakhmanov told CPJ that press freedom will be discussed in events held parallel to the OSCE summit rather than during the summit itself.
"Kazakhstan's press freedom record is too important an issue to be pushed to the margins of this historic gathering as if it were a warm-up act," Ognianova said.
On November 5, court officials in