Last Updated: Thursday, 02 October 2014, 12:19 GMT

Parliament adopts bill curbing online freedom

Publisher Reporters Without Borders
Publication Date 25 June 2009
Cite as Reporters Without Borders, Parliament adopts bill curbing online freedom, 25 June 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4a449191c.html [accessed 2 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Reporters Without Borders and the Kazakh organization "Journalist in danger" condemn the Internet bill that Kazakh legislators passed today. The bill, which had been before parliament since 29 April, will drastically curb online freedom by making it possible to bring criminal prosecutions against bloggers over what they write. President Nursultan Nazarbayev has not yet signed it into law.

"There was a need for a law to regulate online media but this bill endangers freedom of expression," both prganizations said. "It will just enable the authorities to punish those who express too much opposition to the government. This bodes ill for Kazakhstan's presidency of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2010."

The press freedom organisation added: "We call for the revision of this bill, which violates the constitution and which would lead to the bloggers being jailed and online media being closed down." The bill would give blogs, chat rooms and other websites such as online retail outlets the same legal status as the Kazakh news media and would thereby expose them to the possibility of criminal prosecution. Press offences are still punishable by imprisonment in Kazakhstan. The authorities would also be able to block websites that cover elections, strikes, demonstrations and ethnic issues.

The Russian-language blog platform LiveJournal, the most popular one in the region, has meanwhile been inaccessible in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan (which uses the Kazakh network) since 10 October.

No explanation has been given although article 20 of the Kazakh constitution says: "Press freedom is guaranteed. Censorship is forbidden (...) Everyone has the right to freely receive and send information in accordance with the law."

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