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Twenty-two IFEX members sign on to letter to Parliamentarians urging them to consider NGO proposals on media reform

(Adil Soz/IFEX) - The following is a joint letter to the Deputies of Parliament by twenty-two IFEX members:

Deputies of Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Astana 010000
Left coast, The Parliament House
Almaty, Kazakhstan

Dear Deputies,

We, the undersigned heads of Kazak mass media and public organisations as well as international free expression organisations, express dissatisfaction with the methods of reform of the national law on mass media, proposed by the government draft law "On amendments into some legislative acts of mass media of the Republic of Kazakhstan", developed by the Ministry of Culture and Information. The proposed amendments do not make any changes to the current legislation. The contributions of NGOs and media groups were totally overlooked.

We suggest the necessary inclusions be added to the new law:

1. Libel and defamation should be decriminalised. Under no circumstances should the law on offences against honour and dignity provide special protection for public officials, regardless of their status or position. The adjudication of offences against honour and dignity should be placed into the domain of civil law, not in the domain of criminal law as it is in Kazakhstan. We suggest that articles 129 and 130, stating criminal prosecution of mass media for offences against honour and dignity, be excluded from the Criminal Code of Kazakhstan.

2. The situation in Kazakhstan, where claims against editorial offices on offences against honour and dignity do not have a time limit and exorbitant fines are charged for "moral damage" to public officials, threatens the financial existence of mass media organisations and their responsibility to report the truth.

3. The articles on prevention of the circulation of mass media products, seizure of equipment or closure of mass media as a punishment for administrative infringements are unacceptable and should be excluded from the law. The closure of mass media should not be permitted without a court ruling.

4. The current system of registration of mass media in Kazakhstan does not meet the OSCE standards. The procedures and rules on the registration of mass media should be eased, simplified and managed independently from the government system.

We believe that the people of Kazakhstan are entitled to progressive laws according to the principles of free speech laid out in the Constitution. We consider that work on improving the legislation on mass media should be managed in an open and democratic manner.

Adil Soz, International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech, Kazakhstan
Arab Archives Institute (AAI), Jordan
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), Egypt
Associação Brasileira de Jornalismo Investigativo (ABRAJI), Brazil
Association of Independent Electronic Media (ANEM), Serbia
Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Bahrain
Cartoonists Rights Network, International (CRN), U.S.A.
Centre for Media Freedom and responsibility (CMFR), Philippines
Independent Journalism Center (IJC), Moldova
Federation of Nepali Journalists (FNJ), Nepal
Freedom House, U.S.A.
Free Media Movement (FMM), Sri Lanka
Institute of Mass Information (IMI), Ukraine
Institute for Reporters' Freedom and Safety (IRFS), Azerbaijan
Institut Studi Arus Informasi (ISAI), Indonesia
Maharat Foundation, Lebanon
Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA), Australia and New Zealand
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA), Namibia
Media Watch, Bangladesh
Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), Pakistan
Sindicato de Periodistas de Paraguay (SPP), Paraguay
World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC), U.S.A.

For further information on the proposed amendments to the media laws, see:

Adil Soz - International Foundation for Protection of Freedom of Speech

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