You are here
Kazakhstan’s President Urged to Reject Repressive Internet Law
Freedom House is deeply troubled by the passage of repressive legislation on the Internet by the Kazakhstani parliament and urges President Nazarbayev to veto the bill.
Yesterday, the Kazakhstani parliament adopted a law that would severely restrict freedom of the Internet. The draft law broadly defines everything that appears on the Internet, including forums and blogs, as mass media and therefore liable to the types of harsh legal punishments to which traditional media are subject. The bill also gives virtually unlimited power to the government to block foreign websites from being viewed in Kazakhstan.
“If signed by President Nazarbayev in its current form, this law would be a major step backward for media freedom and citizens’ right to freely exchange information in an already restrictive environment,” said Jennifer Windsor, Freedom House Executive Director. “Moreover, the bill is in blatant contradiction to promises by the Kazakhstani government that it would increase media freedom before assuming chairmanship of the OSCE next year.”
At the November 2007 Ministerial Meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Kazakhstan’s foreign minister vowed to undertake far-reaching reforms to improve the country’s record on key human rights issues, including press freedom, prior to his country assuming the OSCE chairmanship in 2010.
In a country with few independent media outlets, the Internet has become one of the only platforms where people could openly discuss some of the most salient issues facing Kazakhstani society. If the bill is signed into law, anyone posting comments in public chat rooms or forums and blogs could be held legally liable for their comments. The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Miklós Haraszti, has called on President Nazarbayev to veto the law.
“We echo the views of Mr. Haraszti and urge OSCE member countries to weigh in with senior Kazakhstani officials to express their concern about this law,” said Freedom House Senior Program Manager Jeff Goldstein.
Kazakhstan is ranked Not Free in the 2009 edition of Freedom in the World, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Not Free in the 2009 version of Freedom of the Press.
Freedom House, an independent nongovernmental organization that supports the expansion of freedom in the world, has been monitoring political rights and civil liberties in Kazakhstan since 1991.
Freedom House makes a difference.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.