Kyrgyzstan considering legislation allowing government to shut down media outlets

Kyrgyzstan considering legislation allowing government to shut down media outlets

[JURIST] A spokesperson for the Kyrgyzstan government discussed [RFE/RL report] proposed legislation that would allow the Kyrgyz government to shut down media outlets without requiring a court decision with Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) [media website] Friday. Justice Ministry spokesman Emir Zulpuev told RFE/RL that the legislation would allow the government complete authority to close media outlets if the owner is pronounced dead and no legal successor has been appointed. The proposed legislation also allows the government to terminate media sites if the company has been liquidated or the owner’s legal status as an entrepreneur is annulled. Additional amendments require media outlets to inform the Justice Ministry about editor in chief changes. Media rights advocates warn that this increased government authority could be used to restrict independent and opposition media.

Journalists and citizens worldwide have faced laws and dangers limiting internet freedom [JURIST backgrounder]. In April the Kyrgyz parliament [official website, in Kyrgyz] approved amendments [JURIST report] to Kyrgyzstan’s Criminal Code that criminalize the spreading of false information through the media. In October the UN urged Kyrgyzstan to reject legislation [JURIST report] that would criminalize any expression which creates a “positive attitude” towards LGBT relations through the media or online. The US Embassy in Kyrgyzstan [official website] also condemned the proposed “gay propaganda” legislation [JURIST report]. The proposed “gay propaganda” ban is similar to a controversial law that went into effect [JURIST report] in Russia in 2013.