Kyrgyzstan: Human rights defenders, independent media targeted in defamation case

Washington

In response to defamation charges filed by the Prosecutor General of the Kyrgyz Republic against human rights defender Cholpon Dzhakupova and two independent media outlets, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“We are alarmed by a surge of politically-motivated defamation lawsuits against independent media and individuals for criticizing President of Atambayev,” said Marc Behrendt, director for Europe and Eurasia programs. “The government of Kyrgyzstan is directly attacking the very institutions necessary for the country’s democratic development. Freedom House urges the authorities of Kyrgyzstan to cease persecution of independent media and human rights defenders who express dissenting views.”

Background:

On March 30, 2017, online media outlet Zanoza.kg published remarks by Cholpon Dzhakupova, head of the legal clinic Adilet, critical of President Atambayev, based on statements made at a roundtable discussion hosted by the Office of the Ombudsman. 

The Prosecutor General of the Kyrgyzstan filed defamation charges against Dzhakupova in response. On April 20, a court ordered a lien on Dzhakupova’s property and issued a travel ban.  Defamation charges were also filed against the editor-in-chief of Zanoza.kg, and Pro-Media’s founder and journalists, seeking nearly $180,000 in damages. 

Kyrgyzstan is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2017, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2017, Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2016, and receives a democracy score of 6.0 on a scale of 1 to 7, with 7 as the worst possible score, in Nations in Transit 2017.

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.

Join us on Facebook and Twitter (freedomhousedc). Stay up to date with Freedom House’s latest news and events by signing up for our newsletter and our blog.