Kyrgyzstan: Parliament must reject discriminatory bill targeting NGOs

Press release
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© Natalia Seliverstova / RIA NOVOSTI

Paris-Geneva, April 13, 2016 – The new version of a draft law on NGOs to be examined by Parliament in second reading tomorrow could restrain Kyrgyz civil society activities if adopted, the Observatory (FIDH-OMCT) warned today. The authorities must create the best possible enabling environment for civil society, including for civil society actors engaged in the promotion and protection of human rights.

On April 14, 2016, the Parliament will discuss in second reading a draft law amending several provisions of the Law on Non-Commercial Organisations. A revised text was adopted in less than a minute by the Human Rights and Constitutional Legislation Committee at its weekly hearing on April 12.

The draft law was first proposed in 2013 by three former Members of Parliament and initially attempted to impose the label of “foreign agent” on all NGOs receiving funding from abroad and engaging in any deemed to be “political activities” - a broad term with negative connotations. A similar legislation was adopted in Russia in 2012 and led to the designation of more than 120 organisations in the country as “foreign agents” and to the closure of a dozen of them.

While, the new version of the law has been scrapped from most of repressive and discriminatory content, the new provisions still place onerous reporting obligations on non-commercial organisations. Such provisions fail to meet States’ obligation to create the best possible enabling environment for civil society. First, they are discriminatory as they impose restrictions on associations that are stricter than those applying for businesses [1]. Second, they are also contrary to international human rights standards, which require that any restrictions be “necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, public order, the protection of public health or morals or the protection of the rights and freedoms of others” (Article 22.2 of ICCPR).

“These new provisions seem to consider NGOs as a special source of concern for national security, thus again creating an environment of suspicion towards the NGO community. As a member of the UN Human Rights Council, Kyrgyzstan must demonstrate its genuine commitment towards the promotion and protection of human rights by creating a more enabling environment for civil society organisations”.

FIDH President Karim Lahidji

“Such differential treatment between non-commercial and commercial entities is not legitimate, as it only aims at shrinking the space for civil society to peacefully carry out its work in defense of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Our organisations urge the Kyrgyz Parliament to reject the current draft and create the best possible enabling environment for civil society, by removing all existing restrictive legislation”.

OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock


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