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Kyrgyzstan parliament approves amendments on spreading false information

[JURIST] The Kyrgyz parliament [official website, in Kyrgyz] on Wednesday approved amendments to Kyrgyzstan's Criminal Code that criminalize the spreading of false information through the media. Under the new amendments, which lawmaker Eristina Kachkarova said are not meant to target journalists or media outlets [RFE/RL report], those found guilty of intentionally spreading false information through media outlets will face a fine of up to $4,000 or a jail sentence of up to five years. According to lawmaker Omurbek Abdrakhmanov, however, the bill could violate the rights of Kyrgyz journalists and needs to be revised, as he believes that parliament approved the bill without considering the impact it would have on the freedom of the press.

Journalists worldwide have faced laws and dangers limiting media freedom. In December Egyptian authorities detained [JURIST report] four journalists working for the Al Jazeera English news channel. The journalists have been accused [AFP report] of broadcasting illegally, spreading false information and information aimed at inciting the public, and meeting with members of the Muslim Brotherhood [party website, JURIST news archive], an Islamist group that was recently classified as a terrorist organization [JURIST report] by the Egyptian government. In November Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] released a report [JURIST report] urging the government of Chad to release prisoners held without charges or charge them with a recognizable criminal offense. The government is allegedly using charges such as "inciting racial hatred," "defamation" and "endangering national security" to justify the arrests of journalists, human rights defenders, trade-unionists and students.

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