Visit of Mr. Christopher Patten, Commissioner of Foreign Affairs of the European Commission, in Kyrgyzistan

16/03/2004
Press release

In the perspective of the visit to Kyrgyzstan on 17 March of Mr. Christopher Patten, Commissioner of Foreign Affairs of the European Commission, the FIDH would like to express its deep concern on the situation of democratic freedoms in this country: pressure against human rights defenders, obstacles and closure of independent newspapers are signs of severe restrictions of freedoms in the country and of an increasing grip of the executive power.

16th/03/2004

A new step was passed by the authorities in the implementation of this repressive strategy, through the adoption in 2003 of Constitutional provisions with the only purpose to strengthen and legitimise the power of the President of the Republic, as well as the power of local authorities.

The referendum of February 2003 on the constitutional reform leaded to the concentration of powers for the benefit of the President (multiplication of the possibilities of dissolution of the Parliament by the President, quasi-absolute right of veto over legislative activity) and restricted fundamental freedoms, such as the freedom of assembly. The President also enjoys immunity from prosecution for criminal offences after his mandate as well as his whole family.

The recurrent repression of the media still goes on. The multiplication of judicial proceedings, on the initiative of government members, tends to restrict the activities of the media, which express criticism against the government, and often leads to the closure of opposition newspapers. The newspaper Moya Stolitsa, one of the most important independent newspapers in Kyrgyzistan was closed in 2003. In the current context of pre-election, mass media faced new persecution. Osh TV is asked to stop broadcasting on Channel 5 at the end of March.

The increased repression against political opponents and human rights defenders on the basis of false charges or through the use of threats and acts of violence becomes a deplorable practice. Mr. Kulov, president of the opposition Party Ar-Army is still in detention serving a 10 years prison sentence pronounced in 2000. Human Rights associations are still subject of harassment as the Kyrgyz Committee for Human Rights (KCHR) (1) . For example, on February 12, 2003, while the European Parliament was in session, Mr. Ramazan Dyryldaev, president of the KCHR, criticised the President of the Kyrgyz Republic. Following his declarations, the pressure exerted on Mr. Dyryldaev and the KCHR increased significantly.

On August 13, in a letter signed by the Deputy Minister of Justice, Mr. Alymbaev, the Minister ordered the KCHR to file a new application for registration within ten days. On August 25, 2003, during press conference three former members of the Committee, announced Mr. Dyryldaev’s dismissal from his position as president of the KCHR despite the fact that Mr. Dyryldaev had been duly re-elected on May 11, 2003. This newly constituted KCHR was officially registered on November 28, 2003.

The situation concerning death penalty remains ambiguous. Despite the fact that the moratorium on executions, which came into force in 1998, was extended for on January 2005, the judicial authorities have continued to pass death sentences. Moreover, conditions of detention remain very precarious and allegations of torture and ill treatments have been reported.

The FIDH considers that Kyrgyzstan fails to comply with international human rights standards, especially the provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the UN Convention Against Torture and the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders. In particular, it violates Article 2 of the Partnership and Co-operation Agreement between the European Union and Kyrgyzistan, which states that “Respect for democracy, principles of international law and human rights [...] underpin the internal and external policies of the Parties and constitute an essential element of partnership and of the Agreement”.

Therefore and in view of the clear lack of political will by the Kyrgyz authorities to further strengthen democracy and the Rule of Law or even to show encouraging signs of progress, the FIDH calls Mr. Patten to exert all possible diplomatic and political pressure on Kyrgyzistan so that it complies with the international and regional human rights standards. [1]

[1] (1) See information published in the framework of the observatory for the protection of human rights defenders (joint programme of the FIDH and the OMCT).

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