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Stakeholders Discuss the Inclusive Development of the Information Policy Concept

Stakeholders Discuss the Inclusive Development of the Information Policy Concept

On 17 and 18 February, within in the framework of the EU funded Media Dialogue project, the European Partnership for Democracy (EPD) is conducting a workshop to support the collective planning of the participatory dialogue process on information policy in the Kyrgyz Republic. Representatives of mass media, media organizations, nongovernmental sector, academics, the Ministry of Culture, Information, Sports and Youth Policy, the State Committee of National Security, the Ministry of Interior take part in the event as the main stakeholders of the dialogue process.

Building on the EPD experience of facilitating policy dialogue in fifteen countries through the INSPIRED method, first-hand insights are presented to the participants on how to deliver policy outcomes through dialogue. Moreover, dialogue participants are introduced to a set of tools to nurture trust dynamics and will establish a set of guiding principles for cooperation that will guide them throughout the next steps of the dialogue process.

The Ministry of Culture, Information, Sports and Youth Policy included the development and adoption of the Concept to its agenda for 2021. In this regard, the Media Dialogue project laying the foundations for the inclusive development of the Information Policy Concept of the Kyrgyz Republic through an inclusive policy dialogue.

Director of the Information and Mass Communications Department of the Ministry of Culture, Information, Sports and Youth Policy Salkyn Sarnogoeva noted that the development of the Information Policy Concept is in the agenda of the Ministry for this year and that the international experience and knowledge will be useful in this regard: “The experience of our colleagues from Europe is important for us because the institutions of democracy and freedom of speech have been successfully preserved and developed in Europe. I would like that Kyrgyzstan, a country that positions itself as an island of democracy, will successfully preserve and develop freedom of speech and democracy. It is important to elaborate the document on Information Policy. It will allow all of us – not only government bodies but also the media community to understand which direction we are moving. In the next few years, we will be able to move ahead in accordance with the Concept that will be elaborated.”

Expressing his expectations for the workshop, Semetey Amanbekov, Deputy Chairman of the Independent Union of Journalists, said: “Kyrgyzstanis are aware of the concepts of the principles of democracy, the rule of law, and freedom of speech. We can proudly say that we are learning the lessons of international democracy by leaps and bounds. Unfortunately, there is such a problem that a certain gap has formed between civil society, the media, the non-governmental sector, and state bodies – it is the absence of an adequate full-format dialogue. Therefore, at this workshop, I want to hear about practical actions – how in Europe and other countries of the world the issue of establishing a full-fledged dialogue between civil society and government bodies is being resolved.”

About INSPIRED: Developed by the EPD and co-financed by the European Union, INSPIRED is a method for constructive participation of civil society and other stakeholders in policy dialogue, contributing to building trust between them. More info: https://epd.eu/inspired/“.

 

News

The development of the Information Policy Concept started today

The development of the Information Policy Concept started today

The Media Dialogue project held a workshop today to lay the foundations for the inclusive development of the Information Policy Concept of the Kyrgyz Republic, with the participation of representatives of mass media, media organizations, nongovernmental sector, the Ministry of Culture Information and Tourism (MinCIT), the State Committee of National Security, the Ministry of Interior and the Media Dialogue project.

The event kicked off with a joint discussion on the current status of the implementation of information policy in the Kyrgyz Republic and of potential approaches to the development of such policy. The participants discussed the goal and priorities to be included in the Concept, its duration and structure, and made a mapping of the key stakeholders to be involved throughout the drafting process.

The Director of the Information and Mass Communication Department of the Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism, Salkyn Sarnogoyeva, noted that Kyrgyzstan does not have a conceptual document defining the country’s information policy and added:

” It is necessary to bring the national media legislation in line with international journalism standards and the opportunities offered by the digital age, and to strengthen the country’s information policy accordingly. Therefore, the MinCIT included the development of the Information Policy Concept into its plan of action for 2021 and we are glad to work together with media actors and stakeholder in the Concept elaboration process”.

The Media Dialogue project Manager, Cholpon Nogoibaeva, noted: “We will organize wide-scale consultations with the entire media sector and representatives and the civil society. Today we are discussing the Concept as a document and as a process that will take several months to develop. What is the aim of the information policy, how it should be regulated, what are its priorities, what are the basic principles of the information policy – these all are important topics to be addressed.”

News

Monitoring Online Hate Speech in the Kyrgyzstan Election

Monitoring Online Hate Speech in the Kyrgyzstan Election

With contributions from the Westminster Foundation for Democracy’s team, Ben Graham Jones – a freelance consultant on elections and an expert in social media monitoring methodologies – sheds lights on the innovative approaches to monitor instances of hate speech online pioneered in the framework of the Media Dialogue project by Kloop media and the Independent Union of Journalists of Kyrgyzstan. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the digitisation of election campaigns. This has accelerated challenge facing election analysts to effectively monitor the online environment. Yet in parallel with ongoing digitisation, pioneers within the field of election observation are developing innovative new methodologies to observe these campaigns. We are fortunate to be able to build upon the strong foundations laid in recent years by organisations such as NDI/IFES, the EU and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy.

Yet whilst methodological reformers have long explored innovative approaches to examining phenomena such as online ads or digital media, one area that has received less attention within the elections field is the usage of innovative online tools to analyse hate speech on social networks. Perhaps as a result of the assumption that it is innately more subjective than dimensions such as online ad expenditure, comparatively few attempts have thus far been made to use innovative means to systematically track online hate speech within the domain of election observation.

Often, methodological inspiration can be found by looking at particular innovators operating within a single country, and then reflecting on how these methodologies might be applied in other contexts. It is in this context that it is a great pleasure to have been involved in supporting two innovative organisations in Kyrgyzstan, the Independent Union of Journalists and Kloop. As part of a consortium led by the European Partnership for Democracy with funding from ALDA – the European Association for Local Democracy, both implemented new approaches that challenge the boundaries of what has been achieved so far within the realm of election observation. In doing so, both combined innovative approaches with robust definitional frameworks inspired by the tried-and-tested approach of Article 19.

This has not been without challenges. Such is the nature of pioneering methodologies. For Kloop, one of the unique strengths of their approach has been how they have sought to deploy embeddings to observe Kyrgyz-language content. Yet the fact that Google Universal Sentence Encoder does not yet support the Kyrgyz language has meant that innovative alternatives had to be explored. For the Independent Union of Journalists, one challenge was how to present the results of an analytic methodology that has so far assessed more than 7000 articles. Yet a user-friendly interface, still a work in progress but already clear and well-defined, is making their work readily accessible.

In addressing these challenges, both organisations have made real progress that will have meaningful lessons for methodological reformers within election observation. The challenge, once the projects are finished, will be to connect their experiences with the wider debate on ways forward for both international election observation and domestic election observation in other countries. Indeed, finding ways to make the connection between CSO innovation and wider knowledge-sharing is a challenge that presents itself right across the field of democracy support.

The results of the project highlight the ongoing challenge hate speech poses in the democratic process. For example, impressively, IUJ’s methodology included the development of the first (to our knowledge) dictionary of terms associated with hate speech in the history of Kyrgyzstan. Developed in collaboration with an expert linguist, this helped the process of automation, thereby allowing the project to analyse a quantity of data that would have been unimaginable through manual means. It gave a sense of just how prevalent hate speech can be at election time.

In presenting such innovative new approaches, it is important to ensure analysts who will in time make use of the IUJ work can exclude legitimate political debate and critique from the dataset amassed through the methodology. To facilitate this, their work separated the incidences of hate speech by category groupings. IUJ analysts found that each of eight distinct types of hate speech were present in their sample, including incitement to violence. As other organisations look to their work, the challenge of ensuring that legitimate political discourse is not conflated with hate speech within automated analyses will be a major consideration, and emphasises the importance of pairing the power of automated data collection with human analytic interpretation who can verify and interpret the findings.

This election has also seen work undertaken not just to monitor, but to actively prevent hate speech. In parallel with the Media Dialogue project, project partner WFD collaborated with both the Central Electoral Commission of Kyrgyzstan and Civic Platform, a civil society organisation that supports the electoral process in Kyrgyzstan, to set defined standards against hate. This project saw the development of a memorandum of understanding and online consultations with political parties. The Memorandum outlines principles guiding the parties’ behaviour during the campaign ahead of the 4 October parliamentary election. A key element of the Memorandum was a commitment to avoid Hate Speech during the electoral campaign.

The Head of Central Election Commission of Kyrgyzstan, Nurzhan Shaildabekova Karmabekovna said: “… by signing the memorandum, political parties agree to multiply efforts to make elections fair and transparent. They also agreed not to use social media to denigrate opponents, and not to use Hate Speech”. It shows that important steps are being taken forward in both understanding the issue, but also in acting on it.

Whilst the projects are more pioneering steps forward rather than long-established finished products, significant progress has been undertaken. Whilst work is ongoing in the preparations for the rescheduled elections and in exploring how best to present the work undertaken so far, the steps forward in such a short space of time is impressive indeed.  It is a reminder how in the ongoing debate on how best to monitor not just hate speech, but the whole array of online phenomena in elections, international NGOs can seek ideas and inspiration by looking at the work of civil society organisations. Keeping that conversation moving forward with fresh energy in both directions is key for continued progress on observation methodologies for the online dimension of elections.

 

News

Presidential Candidates are encouraged to sign the Agreement on Rights and Freedoms

Press Release
Presidential Candidates are encouraged to sign the Agreement on Rights and Freedoms

Candidates for the presidency of the Kyrgyz Republic are invited to meet with a coalition of representatives of the media sector, civil society, and professional communities to discuss the key role that the protection and promotion of civic rights and freedoms, freedom of expression and pluralism of opinions play for the democratic development of the country. Representatives will introduce the “Agreements on Rights and Freedoms”, which includes a set of principles for the promotion of civic rights and freedoms they would like to be upheld and promoted by the forthcoming President.

The Agreement was jointly drafted by the coalition of representatives themselves, which currently include more than 30 actors, from media outlets, digital activists, civil society, professional communities, andNGOs. All candidates running for the presidential elections have been invited to take place to the discussion and are encouraged to join the “Agreement on Rights and Freedoms” and commit to uphold civic rights and freedoms in Kyrgyzstan.

Signing the Agreement testifies the support for the promotion of an inclusive and transparent decision-making process by the candidate for President of the Kyrgyz Republic; observance of the rule of law, and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of speech; preserving freedom of speech as a fundamental right of citizens and the primary condition for the activities of the media, including on the Internet.

The meeting and potential signature of the “Agreement on Rights and Freedoms” with the Kyrgyz Republic’s presidential candidates will take place on 23 December at 15:30 at the Park Hotel in Bishkek. The event will be held with the support of the Media Dialogue project.

News

PRESS ANNOUNCEMENT “Elechekke Kelechek” Forum (Future for the Women)

PRESS ANNOUNCEMENT
“Elechekke Kelechek” Forum (Future for the Women)
December 16, 2020

Bishkek, 15 December, 2020 –  A Forum “Elechekke Kelechek” will take place tomorrow in Bishkek with the participation of women – representatives of the government, parliament, local councils, professional communities, civil society, as well as business and media spheres.  The Forum aims to give a voice to women in Kyrgyzstan currently active in protecting and promoting democratic institutions, civil rights, and freedoms. The Forum is initiated by the informal coalition media sector, civil society organizations, professional communities, bloggers / digital activists, and will be conducted with the support of the “Media Dialogue” project funded by the European Union.

Lawyers and Members of Parliament will present a legal assessment of the current situation and discuss risks and threats in relation to citizens’ rights and freedoms. Representatives of the government, local councils, and civil society will speak about the prospects of the political rights and accessibility of the system of public administration and local self-government for women.  Speakers from the media sector will talk about the freedom of expression as an essential condition for protecting women’s rights. Also, participants of the Forum will discuss topics related to women in business and the protection and implementation of citizens’ social rights.

The Forum will also include the award ceremony of the “Honor of the Nation” (Улут абийири) and “Model of the Nation” (Улут үлгүсү) awards.  As a culmination of the Forum, participants will adopt an Appeal of the Forum “Elechekke Kelechek” to the citizens of Kyrgyzstan.

 

Illustration by Kasiet Usenova / @kasietusen

 

For more information about the event, please contact Asylgul Akimjanova, Communication Officer at +996504222405 or asylgulakimjanova@epd.eu.

The Media Dialogue project is funded by the European Union and runs until end of 2021. Its objective is to harness the power of the media in safeguarding conflict-free elections. We have been delivering training and capacity-building activities to help media actors supply accurate and trustworthy election-related content to the citizens of Kyrgyzstan so that they can make informed choices.

News

Article 19: Draft Constitution threatens freedom of expression and freedom of the media

ARTICLE 19 calls on authorities in Kyrgyzstan to refrain from adopting constitutional changes infringing on freedom of expression and media freedom. The proposed changes would accelerate further deterioration of the freedom of expression and media freedom situation in Kyrgyzstan and provide additional basis for targeting independent media both online and offline. The constitutional reform process, the legitimacy of which is widely questioned, should be halted.

 Over the last months, Kyrgyzstan has been undergoing political turmoil. The results of the parliamentary elections, that took place on 4 October, were annulled by the Central Election Commission on 21 October following allegations of vote-buying and abuse of administrative resources, with new elections being scheduled for 20 December 2020. The following day, however, the Parliament passed urgent amendments, with all three readings occurring in a single day, postponing subsequent parliamentary elections until summer 2021, citing the need to first amend the Constitution. On 17 November 2020, former prime minister and acting president, Sadyr Japarov announced draft amendments to the Constitution. He also called for a return to a “presidential system of governance” where more powers would be concentrated in hands of the President. The constitutional amendments proposed by Japarov may be voted on in a referendum which could take place on the same day as presidential elections scheduled for 10 January 2021.

ARTICLE 19 is gravely concerned about the proposed amendments as well as continuous deterioration of freedom of expression in Kyrgyzstan. In particular, we highlight the following key issues:

Problematic process and threats to the legitimacy of governance 

The process and substantive decisions to initiate amendments to the Kyrgyz Constitution have been already heavily criticised as illegitimate by local and international experts. Also, the Venice Commission has stated that “when the mandate of parliament is prolonged beyond the constitutional duration because the elections are postponed, parliament has only diminished powers and does not have the legitimacy to carry out constitutional reforms.”

ARTICLE 19 believes that the legitimacy of the process confers legitimacy on the outcome and thus, is the strongest guarantee of societal stability and sustainable democratic development. The apparent lack of legitimacy of the constitutional process undermines the legitimacy of any subsequent government and will erode the basis of broader public consensus regarding what should be the fundamental principles of legal, social and economic order in the country.

Excessive restrictions to freedom of expression on the basis of public morals

In an evident attempt to establish a form of censorship, Article 23 of the Draft Constitution proscribes publications (including electronic) and public events which are “contrary to generally recognised moral values, traditions of the peoples of Kyrgyzstan and international standards”.  This Article further provides for the possibility to limit or to ban dissemination in media of the information and content which can harm the “morals and culture” of the people of Kyrgyzstan.

ARTICLE 19 notes that under Article 19 (3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), freedom of expression can be restricted only if conditions of so called “three-part test” are met. While protection of public morals constitutes a generally permissible ground for restrictions, any restriction must be prescribed by law e.g. inter alia formulated with sufficient precision and necessary in a democratic society. Further, the Human Rights Committee, a body tasked with interpreting the ICCPR, has observed that “the concept of morals derives from many social, philosophical and religious traditions; consequently, limitations… for the purpose of protecting morals must be based on principles not deriving exclusively from a single tradition.” Any such limitations must be understood in the light of universality of human rights and the principle of non-discrimination.

International human rights law does not recognise as a legitimate purpose of restricting freedom of expression the protection of “traditions” or “culture of the people(s)” unless they can be considered as constitutive elements of “public morals” (and if they indeed are covered by the concept of “public morals”, then mentioning them in this legal provision is redundant).

Article 23 is therefore in violation of these standards. It also conflicts with Article 11 of the Draft Constitution which claims to guarantee the right of the media to “freely publish, express and reflect different views”. This contradictory approach of granting rights with one hand and taking them away with the other is either the result of poor legislative drafting or a deliberate attempt to provide for the selective and arbitrary application of constitutional norms.

Opening way for criminal defamation

In another controversial move, the Draft Constitution drops the current constitutional guarantees of protection from criminal prosecution for defamation (Article 33 (5) of the Constitution). This is extremely concerning as criminal defamation provisions in earlier Kyrgyzstan legislation were used to target independent journalists and created a chilling effect on freedom of expression in the country.

In their recent assessment of the constitutional changes, experts from the Media Policy Institute, consider that the “miraculous” disappearance of the safeguard against criminal defamation may represent an attempt to return to previous practices. It is believed that this omission was not “by accident” and that those who are pushing for the adoption of the Draft Constitution will later seek to criminally prosecute journalists for defamation.

Restrictions on reporting under pretext of data protection

Article 28 aims to protect personal data. However, it states inter alia that “use and disseminate information” about the personal/private life of a person, “without their consent, is forbidden unless otherwise established by the law.” The vagueness of this formulation is problematic for the media whose job often involves disseminating information about the personal/private life of the politicians or other public persons in the public interest (e.g. it could help to prove existence of conflict of interests, cases of fraud or corruption).

Restrictions on ‘hate speech’

Article 32 (4) of the Draft Constitution which aims to prohibit certain types of ‘hate speech,’ including incitement, resembles the wording of Article 20(2) of ICCPR. However, apart from outlawing propaganda of national, ethnic, racial or religious hatred, it also proscribes propaganda of “gender and other social superiority”.

ARTICLE 19 notes that the concept of “social superiority” is an exceptionally broad and ambiguous and goes beyond permissible restrictions on freedom of expression. We are also concerned that the proposed ban of “propaganda of gender superiority” will be misused to attack anti-discrimination projects and initiatives as well as to take down media publications promoting gender equality and/or LGBTQI rights.

Restrictions on media freedom

Article 29 allows in exceptional cases (such exceptions should be further prescribed by law) to conduct searches of private accommodation, property and personal items without judicial decision/approval. Though such actions of the law enforcement could be further assessed by the courts in terms of their legality and justification, this provision can potentially ease persecution of dissidents and/or journalists and media by the authorities.

Threats to the system of checks-and-balances and legal uncertainty  

The proposed Draft Constitution distorts the system of checks-and-balances as a basic principle of democratic governance and entrusts the President with exceptionally broad powers. The resultant misbalance between the three branches of power makes the whole governance system fragile and open to gradual usurpation. It is worth noting that growing consolidation of power makes any State prone to conflicts, where regular and peaceful transition of state power becomes less and less feasible.

ARTICLE 19 is further concerned about legal uncertainty created by the transitional provisions of the constitutional amendments. In particular, these provisions prescribe that where necessary laws are absent to ensure implementation of the provisions of the amended Constitution, the President may adopt the respective interim decrees which will have the force of law up until the necessary laws are duly adopted by the Parliament. The transitional provisions also allow the President to form a Government of their own choosing until it can be formed in accordance with the Constitution. Thus, for the period between possible adoption of the new Constitution and election of the new Parliament, most of the state power will be consolidated in the President’s hands and the legal framework of the country will be dependent on their arbitrary will.

Additionally, the draft text of the Constitution establishes a 5-year term for the Presidency, however the President to be elected in January 2021 will be in power for 6 years.

ARTICLE 19’s recommendations

Taking into account the above and in light of applicable international standards and good practices, ARTICLE 19 calls on the authorities in Kyrgyzstan:

  • To halt the Constitutional amendment process as it is in violation of essential substantive and procedural norms of good governance;
  • To take all necessary actions to restore the legitimacy of state governance and to safeguard a democratic system of checks-and-balances, and for this purpose to engage in a constructive dialogue with civil society, media, academia, small and medium business;
  • To schedule and organise parliamentary elections as soon as is reasonably possible;
  • To refrain from introducing either in the Draft Constitution, or in any other law, provisions undermining freedom of expression and freedom of the media in the country.
This material belongs to Article 19: https://www.article19.org/resources/kyrgyzstan-draft-constitution-threatens-freedom-of-expression-and-freedom-of-the-media/
News

Chief Editors and members of the Coalition of media and civil society representatives discussed how the new draft of the Constitution could harm Freedom of Speech

On November 24, the Media Dialogue project facilitated a meeting with media chief editors, civil society representatives, bloggers / digital activists and the expert community consisting of lawyers, economists, political and socio-economic experts in Bishkek to discuss avenues for strengthening the independent information space and to safeguard freedom of speech in the Kyrgyz Republic. The meeting was called after the draft of a proposed new Constitution was posted on the website of Zhogorku Kenesh, which includes elements that could seriously harm freedom of speech in the country. The participants emphasized the need to join forces and produce quality content to raise awareness on these potential harmful elements. Semetey Amanbekov, one of the participants and a Deputy Head of the Independent Union of Journalists, emphasized that “Article 23 of the draft Constitution threatens freedom of speech. It is important to have a platform where we [representatives of media and civil society] can all communicate, share information and raise awareness on this threat, in an effort to prevent any infringement of freedom of speech and attacks on journalists”.

Speaking about the increasing attacks on journalists and bloggers, mainly from fake accounts, the media representatives emphasized that they are out of politics and will continue to do their job of covering the situation and calling for the safeguarding of freedom of speech in the Kyrgyz Republic.

Participants agreed to regularly hold periodic meetings to discuss avenues to safeguard freedom of speech with participation of the wider circles of journalists and editors. Most of the invitees are the members of informal Coalition, which was recently formed and consists of representatives of the media sector, civil society organizations, civil society activists, professional communities, bloggers / digital activists, lawyers, economists, political and socio-economic experts. The coalition was formed at the initiative of the media sector in November, after an increase in attacks on journalists, media, digital activists and civil society organizations. In connection with the current situation, the coalition has intensified its work and created conditions for the exchange of information with the media to provide quality content to explain to the wider public the threats that the new draft Constitution contains, both for human and civil rights and for freedom of speech.

News

Media Dialogue participates in the Annual Partnership Media Conference devoted to Information and Press Day

On 13 November 2020, the Ministry of Culture, Information and Tourism of the Kyrgyz Republic in close collaboration with the Media Dialogue Project will hold the Annual Partnership Media Conference, devoted to the Information and Press Day. The Conference focuses on topics such as Information and digital security under COVID-19 and post-pandemic period, the Concept of the Information Policy of the Kyrgyz Republic till 2025, security of journalists and media outlets, influence of the social networks on the elections, including hate speech.

The Concept of Information Policy till 2025 was elaborated with the support of the Media Dialogue project in  close partnership with representatives of the media sector. The draft of the Concept will be presented at the Media Conference by the Minister of Culture, Information and Tourism of the Kyrgyz Republic Nurzhigit Kadyrbekov.

A member of the Media Dialogue project’s Initiative group Nurdin Duishenbekov will also intervene to present a report on the lessons learned for media sector, where he will focus on physical attacks to journalists and to the bloggers on social networks as well as on violation of the freedom of speech and expression. Moreover, a report on the role of social networks on the elections will be presented, with a focus on instances of hate speech during the electoral campaign for the 2020 parliamentary elections.

__________________________________________________

“Media Dialogue” project is funded by the European Union through the Instrument contributing to Stability and Peace and runs until late spring 2021. “Media Dialogue”. The project is implemented by a consortium of five organisations: European Partnership for Democracy, European Association for Local Democracy (ALDA Europe), ARTICLE 19, Westminster Foundation for Democracy and the Media Policy Institute. Detailed information about the Project is available here: https://mediadialogue.kg/en/about-the-project/

In order to get additional information about the Project or the current and future opportunities please call Asel Moldokmatova, Program and Logistics Assistance, at +996504222408 or aselmoldokmatova@epd.eu; or with Cholpon Nogoibaeva, Project Manager, at +996504222407 or cholponnogoibaeva@epd.eu

News

Media Dialogue update on activities in response to post-election developments

Since the annulment of the results of the October 4 elections, developments have underlined the importance of adhering to democratic principles, fundamental freedoms and legal certainty in these uncertain times. Adherence is incumbent upon every sector of Kyrgyz society if stable foundations for a constructive and inclusive dialogue are to be laid in preparation for new, free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections in line with international standards.

The Media Dialogue continues to engage democratic actors in a constructive dialogue on the challenges affecting the media sector and to promote quality standards and good practices for media activity and media freedom during the electoral period and beyond.

Amidst recent threats to freedom of speech, Media Dialogue is making steps to boost the safety of independent media outlets and their resilience during continuing instability after the annulled parliamentary election.

Media Dialogue partners keep on protecting journalists’ rights in the courts through legal support. The project will offer safety and risk assessment training to reporters and journalists involved in covering public events involving crowds and gatherings, as well as trainings on digital safety and cyber security, in order to provide interested journalists with technological and behavioural mitigation tools relevant to trolling attacks.

Media Dialogue also continues to strengthen the skills of journalists, editors, and mediators on conflict-sensitive journalism, thereby equipping them with knowledge for conflict analysis and conflict-sensitive approach to journalism and reporting.

Media Dialogue continues to protect health safety of media staff by providing personal protective equipment to limit exposure to COVID-19 infection while conducting their work.

 

_______________

Article 19, “Kyrgyzstan: Attacks on journalists and access to information following disputed election

Media Dialogue, “Statement from representatives of the media sector: freedom of speech is in danger

Media Policy Institute, “Media organizations in Kyrgyzstan are concerned about attacks and threats against journalists and media editors”.

News

Political Parties Have Signed the Freedom of Speech Agreement

On 24 September, representatives of the media sector organized a meeting with the political parties that are running for the election to Jogorku Kenesh of the Kyrgyz Republic (the Parliament).

Initiated by the representatives of the media sector, the event presented the Freedom of Speech Agreement, encouraging the political parties to endorse the initiative and the sector’s vision of the reforms in the media sphere.

In his address Bolot Temirov, Editor of “Factcheck.kg” Internet Portal, stressed that he was “Glad to note that the society in general and representatives of the media sector have consolidated to defend the freedom of speech by openly expressing their discontent with the draft laws that infringe the rights of journalists, bloggers and regular users of social networks”.

The participants also shared the problems that are faced by the media sphere and the respective solutions.

The Parliament should adopt such new laws and by-laws that will encourage and promote freedom of speech. Elected figures, state and municipal servants should be exposed to fair criticism for their actions or inactions”, said Semetei Amanbekov, Editor of “Elgezit.kg” Online Newspaper, in his presentation.

Anna Timofeenko, an independent journalist, made the following suggestion: “It is important to ensure legal protection of mass media, state agencies and citizens, so as to defend them from cyber-attacks and cyber- threats. It is equally important to introduce norms that stipulate the shortest possible time span for state agencies, local self-government and other organizations to which the Government is a party to review media’s requests for access to information”.

Invitations to participate in the meeting were sent to all 16 political parties that are participating in the parliamentary elections. 15 parties have joined the Agreement, including “BIRIMDIK (UNITY) Democratic Party”, “Mekenchil”, “YIMAN NURY Political Party of Justice and Development”, “Mekenim Kyrgyzstan”, “Reforma”, “Ata Meken”, “Zamandash”, “Butun Kyrgyzstan”, “Social Democrats of Kyrgyzstan”, “Meken Yntymagy”, Political Party of Afgan War Veterans and Participants of Other Localized Armed Conflicts, “Ordo”, “Bir Bol”, “Respublica” and “Chon Kazat”. Thereby, the future parliament members have demonstrated their commitment to the ideas, as specified in the Freedom of Speech Agreement. Representatives of the media sector decided to monitor the political parties that will be elected to Jogorku Kenesh (7th Convocation), and to implement norms that promote freedom of speech.

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