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Missing Kazakh journalist found safe

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - 8 January 2013 - ARTICLE 19 is pleased to hear the news that Kazakh journalist Tokbergen Abiyev is safe and well after raising concerns about his disappearance on 20 December.

The journalist has claimed that he staged his own disappearance, ahead of a planned press conference about corruption in Kazakhstan, in order to raise awareness about the issue both within the country and internationally.

ARTICLE 19 is concerned that Abiyev unnecessarily caused great alarm among media workers in the country and international human rights campaigners, and that his staged disappearance could undermine future actions on behalf of journalists or activists who are confronting genuine threats on their safety.

Under the current climate in Kazakhstan, the media has come under fierce and politically motivated attacks, intended to silence legitimate criticism of the authorities and restrict the fundamental human right to freedom of expression.

ARTICLE 19 urges the authorities in Kazakhstan to ensure investigations are carried out quickly and thoroughly in all cases where journalists and human rights defenders go missing , are threatened or attacked.

“Crimes against those people, who speak out on issues of public importance, are crimes against freedom of expression – such crimes are a direct threat to the health of a nation. Where these crimes are not investigated, and those responsible are not brought to justice, a dangerous climate of impunity is created. This can fuel further abuses against free speech by those who seek to silence. It also creates a climate of fear and self-censorship among those carrying out vital work to speak truth and raise matters of genuine public importance” said Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19's Executive Director.

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