HRW urges European leaders to raise concerns over Kyrgyzstan

HRW urges European leaders to raise concerns over Kyrgyzstan

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Sunday urged [press release] EU leaders France, Germany and Switzerland to raise human rights concerns directly with Kyrgyzstan President Almazbek Atambaev [Russia Profile] about abuses occurring in his country. HRW has called on the leaders to “seek firm promises” that the country reject two bills [HRW press release] that they claim will violate human rights. Introduced in May 2014, one bill would criminalize homosexual propaganda efforts, and the other would introduce a harsh “foreign agents” law that would limit the capabilities of human rights workers and other nongovernmental groups. HRW also urged the leaders seek to have the imprisoned Azimjon Askarov immediately released. Askarov, a human rights defender focused on police abuse, was sentenced [HRW press release] to life in prison for having an alleged role in southern Kyrgyzstan violence that year. HRW claims that he did not receive a fair trial.

Kyrgyzstan has been under intense scrutiny for a variety of rights violations recently. In January a spokesperson for the Kyrgyzstan government discussed [JURIST 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. In October 2014 Ravina Shamdasani, a spokesperson for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) urged the Parliament of Kyrgyzstan to reject [JURIST report] proposed legislation institutionalizing discrimination against individuals who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Also in October 2014 the US Embassy in Kyrgyzstan issued a press release [JURIST report] condemning the proposed ban on homosexual propaganda legislation. In January 2014 HRW released a report [JURIST report] detailing abuses against gay and bisexual men at the hands of police in Kyrgyzstan. The report, entitled, “They Told Us We Deserved This: Police Violence against Gay and Bisexual Men in Kyrgyzstan,” found that gay and bisexual men have been subjected to abuses including physical, sexual and psychological violence, arbitrary detention and extortion under the threat of violence by police officers, despite the decriminalization of consensual sex between men in 1998.